My biggest genealogical frustration is the gap in records about my great-grandfather’s family from 1918 to 1924. Where were they? Not in the 1920 census, unfortunately for me.
But I did luck out, research-wise, in a number of ways. Maybe counting these blessings will bring on good genealogical karma:
- Ninety-eight percent of the deaths listed in the Social Security Death Index occurred after 1962, the year the index was computerized. By all rights, my great-grandfather, who died in 1949, shouldn’t be included. Yet he is!
Once I had his SSN, I sent off a request for his SS-5 (the SSN application) and learned his parents’ names and where he lived and worked at the time.
- The only WWII draft registration cards available for research are from the Fourth Registration or “Old Man’s Draft” of men who were 45 to 64 years old on April 27, 1942. (Privacy laws have closed registrations of younger men.) Eight states’ cards have been destroyed, and online databases (a free browseable one on FamilySearch and a searchable one on fee-based Ancestry.com) aren’t complete. Lucky for me, I found Great-grandpa’s card.
- My dad has a copy of his dad’s resume and a job application from the 1940s. In neat, square writing, my grandfather detailed his employment background. His answer to the criminal offense question tells of a fine he paid after a fender bender with a streetcar. “I was not intoxicated and I don’t drink,” he stated emphatically.
- My mom’s sister was way into genealogy, and before she passed away five years ago, she gave me copies of her microfilm printouts and family group sheets. The family’s home burned down not long after she died; I feel fortunate to have her papers.
- Once I found my great-grandfather’s obituary in the Cleveland Necrology File, I was able to track down the right funeral home and send an e-mail. Someone faxed his funeral record within days. With today’s privacy hyper-concerns—and the fact I’m not planning to be a customer of the home anytime soon—the response was unexpected.
Of course, I’m very lucky and very glad that it’s part of my job to keep learning about genealogy and stay up on new resources. Click Comments below to share your genealogical blessings.