Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Social Security Death Index Now Has 80 Million Entries

The online Social Security Death Index (SSDI) at Genealogy Bank has surpassed 80 million entries. It has been updated to include some August 2007 entries. The SSDIs at FamilySearch, Ancestry and Rootsweb now include July 2007 entries. The Social Security Death Indexes at FamilySearch and Rootsweb are free to use. For links to all four of these SSDIs see: The Social Security Death Index - Online Searching

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Los Angeles Death Records Indexes and Obituaries

The online death indexes directory now has a new separate webpage for Los Angeles County, California. Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the United States with over 9.7 million residents, and includes Los Angeles, Long Beach, Glendale, Santa Clarita, Pasadena, Torrance and many other cities.

Online Los Angeles Death Records Indexes and Obituaries

There you will find listings for online death indexes, obituary indexes for the L.A. Times and other Los Angeles County newspapers, some cemetery burial indexes, and ordering information for California death certificates.

For other California cities and counties see: Online California Death Records Indexes and Obituaries

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New Online Death Records Indexes

Links to the items listed below were recently added to: Online Death Records Indexes, Obituaries and Cemetery Burials

Arkansas
- Catalog of Arkansas Resources and Archival Treasures (indexes some obituaries and other genealogy-related records)

California
- Santa Clara County Historical and Genealogical Society Website (includes a burial index for the Mission City Memorial Park Cemetery and 2 funeral home indexes)

Idaho
- Idaho Death Index 1911-1956 (update: the years 1952-1956 added)

Indiana
- Delaware County: Muncie Public Library Record Image Search and Obituary Index -- includes obituaries index 2002-July 2006, wills 1831-February 1975, and some funeral home and court records

Kansas
- Johnson County Obituaries Index 1977-present (work in progress; presently includes surnames A-C)

Missouri
- Ste. Genevieve County Cemeteries

Montana
- Montana Library Network Newspaper Index -- indexes various Montana newspapers; includes obituaries

New Mexico
- New Mexico Death Index Project 1941-1949 (1890-1940 also available)

New Jersey
- Burlington County Library Newspaper Notices Index -- includes birth & marriage announcements, death notices and obituaries

North Carolina
- Buncombe County Register of Deeds Index Search -- includes deaths 1913-recent (requires registration)

Ohio
- Jackson County: Fairmount Cemetery Burials, City of Jackson (PDF file)

South Carolina
- Colleton County: The Press and Standard Newspaper Index 1873-present (Walterboro, SC)
- Kershaw County: Camden Archives and Museum Obituary Index

Virginia
- Fauquier County Cemeteries
- Petersburg Public Library Newspaper Index 1797-1877 (includes obituaries)
- Richmond Funeral Home and Monuments Indexes (includes: L. T. Christian Funeral Home Records Database, and J. Henry Brown Monuments, Inc. Order Books Collection Index - partial)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

World War I Draft Registration Cards of Famous, Infamous, and Interesting People

While wandering around the National Archives website I came across several scanned World War I draft cards of a few famous and interesting people. I was fascinated by some of the details of the lives of these people, especially those who were not yet 20. Some were already well known. Some became famous much later.

The World War I draft card for legendary "Scarface" gangster Al Capone says the 19-year-old Alphonse Capone was a paper cutter for the United Paper Box Company in Brooklyn, New York in 1918.

World War I Draft Registration Card of George GerswhinGeorge Gerswhin's draft card, filed in New York City, gives his occupation as "actor - composor (sic)" at age 19. He would go on to write Rhapsody in Blue (1924) and Porgy and Bess (1935), among other great works. Another 19-year-old New York resident, Frederick Austerlitz Astaire, was already an actor. His place of employment in 1918 was "Winter Garden, Broadway & 50th St. NY." Today you can go see the Abba musical Mamma Mia at this theater. On the back of the famous dancer's draft card it says "legal name is Austerlitz but goes by name of Astaire." Fred Astaire would later star in George Gershwin's musical, Funny Face, in 1927, and the film version 30 years later with Audrey Hepburn.

The 19-year-old Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was a Federal government messenger in the War Dept. in Washington, DC. Unlike Gershwin, his 1918 draft card gives no indication of his future as one of the 20th Century's greatest composers.

On his June 5, 1917 World War I draft card, Joseph Patrick Kennedy, age 28, lists his dependents as "wife and 2 children." His wife was Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald (1890-1995). His children at the time were Joseph Patrick Kennedy Jr. (1915-1944), who died during World War II, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963), who was elected president of the United States in 1960. JFK was born just a week before his father registered for the draft.

My favorite one is for master magician and escape artist Harry Houdini (1874-1926). On his 1918 draft card he put his middle name as "Handcuff," likely because he had become known as the "handcuff king."

World War I Draft Registration Card of Harry Houdini (detail)
These World War One draft cards of notable people at the National Archives website were scanned from the original cards, not microfilm, so you can get an idea of what the draft cards actually look like - they have been scanned in color and are reproduced fairly well. You can find scans of the cards mentioned in this article, along with draft cards of a few more famous people at: Selected World War I Draft Registration Cards: Famous, Infamous, and Interesting at the National Archives Southeast Branch

For help finding draft cards of your relatives and ancestors see:
How to Find World War One Draft Registration Cards 1917-1918