The Social Security Death Index No Death-Day Conundrum  

If you’ve been a genealogist for any length of time, you are aware that:

1.      The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is an extremely useful database.
2.      SSDI records omit day of death for some people.

This means that an SSDI record sometimes looks like this:

Name: Blow, Joseph Aloysius    Date of Death: Mar 1973

Social Security card
Social Security card

We are sometimes asked to help people figure out what that missing day is. I decided to try an experiment to see if a little persistence (and access to some electronic resources) can often solve this ongoing problem.

I selected ten people, all of whom are listed by the SSDI as having died in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA in March 1973. I searched for each of these people in the following electronic resources:

·         Catholic Cemeteries of St. Louis
·         Find a Grave
·         Nationwide Gravesite Locator
·         St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The first three are freely available on the Internet, and we subscribe to the electronic Post-Dispatch. We don’t subscribe to, but you can browse it and see a snippet of any relevant articles.

Here are the people I searched, and my results (death dates in parenthesis):

1.      Alberta Alyea— obit (March 8, 1973)
2.      David Alper—St.  Louis Post-Dispatch obit (March 26, 1973)
3.      William Bain—Find a Grave (March 16, 1973)
4.      Marie Blackwood—St. Louis Post-Dispatch obit (March 25, 1973)
5.      Leslie Brooks—St. Louis Post-Dispatch obit (March 24, 1973)
6.      Andy Brush—Catholic Cemeteries of St. Louis (March 5, 1973)
7.      Camille Bryan—Find a Grave & Nationwide Gravesite Locator (March 13, 1973)
8.      Woody Bryant—Not found
9.      Ruth Burke—St. Louis Post-Dispatch obit (March 23, 1973)
10.  Mary Carey—Find a Grave & St. Louis Post-Dispatch obit (March 4, 1973)

Conclusion: Given that these ten people were chosen at random, and that I found days of death for nine of them, I think we can safely conclude that a little persistence (and access to some electronic databases) can in fact often produce a day of death for an SSDI “no death-day” record.

Notes: SSDI and Find a Grave can be searched using Ancestry Library Edition, which is available at Central Library and our branches.

You can search the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at a Library location or from home (if you have a valid Library Card and PIN).

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