|Genealogy Tip of the Day|
|Using the SSDI to Find Maiden Names|
As I'm sure most of you have discovered, female ancestors can be especially hard to trace because they change their names through marriage, sometimes several times. It can be pretty tough to find a person when you don't know their last name! Certain types of genealogical records often prove useful for locating these maiden names, including marriage certificates, cemetery records, census records and land records. These records can take time and sometimes travel to explore, however. For you impatient types, the Social Security Death Index ( SSDI ) is another powerful tool for locating possible maiden names for these hard-to-find women in your family tree.
Several free online SSDI databases allow you to perform searches without requiring a surname. Therefore, you could search for a woman with the same given name and birth date, or death date as the ancestor you seek. For example, you could perform a search for women named Henrietta born on March 26, 1963 or for women named Henrietta who died in Pennsylvania. Either of these searches might yield a new clue.
This type of search will produce too many hits to be effective for maiden name searches with common given names such as Elizabeth or Ann, but can provide you with a good list of possibilities for more unusual names. It can be especially useful when trying to locate birth mothers. If you don't know the exact birth date, you can also limit your results by birth year or state of death.
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