Our access to the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), also called the Death Master File, is currently being threatened by four bills in Congress. Although genealogists are signing petitions and writing our representatives hoping to wake them up to the real basis of identity theft in this country, our efforts may be to no avail. Before we lose online access to this valuable resource, let's update our personal research. TMG should be able to give us a quick list of all the people in our database who might be found in the SSDI. Let's create that report.
Sometimes the choice of list reports is not as obvious as this example suggests. This PDF chart compares the options in the various TMG "List of ..." reports.
The image on the left shows the Report Definition Screen for this report. The report configuration name is "TVTMG_SSN_candidates." The subjects will be part of a filtered group, and the report will be saved to an Excel file. If you don't use Excel, save this report to a Comma Separated Values (CSV) file. You can then import it into your spreadsheet of choice.
Creating a filter takes a little practice, and we don't always get it right the first time. If you're unfamiliar with the concept of filters and Boolean logic, read the page entitled " Filters Made Simple -- Maybe". These points describe the results of this filter.
What information do you want in your report? You have nine columns available in TMG's Output Columns tab in the Report Options. In a List of People report, Name is a given bit of information. Birth and death dates help uniquely identify a person. Including the ID number of each person allows quick access to that person's Details window. Why did I include Sex in this report? It allowed me to go through the males on the list quickly; their surnames don't change with marriage. Finding women in the SSDI takes a little more work. Adding spouse names to the report output would help, but remember that TMG uses the last-viewed spouse in these list reports. That's not a problem if a woman was married only once, but what if she were married several times?
This report was generated with the Tri-Valley TMG Users Group's enhanced sample database. To increase the number of subjects, I changed the birth date to those born after 1 January 1880. It wouldn't take much time to search the SSDI for these few names. Unfortunately, my personal database yielded a much longer list of candidates!
You're not finished with this report. As you search the SSDI for every person on your list, annotate this report with your results, especially noting negative results with the date and description of the failed searches. Save the file and attach it as an Exhibit to your SSDI entry in the Master Source List. This is one way to keep track of your ongoing research in this source.
This report is fine if you've been adding information to the SSN tag. What if you haven't? What if you've been using the SSDI as a source for possible birth and death information, but you haven't been adding a separate SSN tag? That's the situation for one of our members. TMG should be able to generate a report to help her out, too, but it's not as simple as this one. Stay tuned!
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