by Rocky Macy
A year or so ago this column ran information regarding the availability of social security records for genealogical research. At that time the process was hazy, but now more specifics are known. Please read on...
The application that your parents, grandparents, or other forebears filled out in order to become a part of the social security program may contain material that will add to your knowledge of their history. Social security records are protected, but once a person dies, his or her records may be obtained by a family member through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
If the social security number (SSN) or date of death is unknown, a good place to begin the search is to visit the Family History Center of the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Ask the librarian or person on duty for assistance in the computerized Social Security Death Index. After locating your deceased relative in the alphabetical listing, copy the social security number and any other information contained in the index, such as date of death and last residence.
The next step in the process is to obtain Form SSA-L997 (third party request) from the nearest Social Security Office. Send the completed form and a letter of request to: Office of Public Inquiries, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21235. Mention in your letter that the person whose records you are requesting is deceased and that you understand the records are no longer protected by the Privacy Act. Enclose a check for $7 if the social security number is known, and $16.50 if the number is not known. The search fee money will not be returned, even if the record is not found.
(Doesn't it seem like we spend a lot to time in genealogy just writing checks!)
If you are not familiar with the Family History Centers of the LDS Church, there are several in the Rootbound readership area. Just check your local phone book. Research in these facilities is free, and they can borrow specific items from the main library in Salt Lake City for just a nominal fee.
Joe CAMPBELL (22 Basildon Drive, Bella Vista, AR 72714) has been searching for seven years for just one link in his family lineage, but to no avail. This consistent lack of luck, that even included queries to Rootbound, has led Joe to remark in a recent letter that he follows Rootbound each week "sometimes with chagrin when I read all those glowing reports of someone finding a vital link in their lineage when digging through the litter in their cat box!"
Not wishing to leave a good reader upset, Rootbound will try again!
Joe CAMPBELL (address above) is seeking to learn the parentage of his g-g-grandfather, John CAMPBELL, who, according to the family Bible, was born in 1778 in Lincoln County, KY. Kentucky did not become a state until 1790, so Lincoln County at that time was actually Fincastle County, VA. He was married in Lincoln County in 1803. Do any of our readers have information that might help Joe CAMPBELL in his search?
Over the years we have had requests for information on the credibility of certain companies that do professional genealogical research. As far as we know, there is no consumer guide for such services. If you are solicited by any company through the mails and their product or service doesn't meet expectations, notify the U.S. Postal Service. And if you have good results from a research company. let Rootbound know. We'll be very happy to share the news!
Until next week...happy hunting!