During each of my genealogy courses I describe the value of applications for Social Security, numbered by the Social Security Administration as a Form SS-5. There are places online where anyone can search the Social Security Death Index, including RootsWeb.com, and FamilySearch. These applications were completed by individuals and included such information as name, parents’ names, place of residence, and date and place of birth.
I was recently reminded that these may be ordered online through the Social Security Administration’s website, on the page labelled as “FOIA” (Freedom of Information Act). Here is a link to that page: http://www.ssa.gov/foia/html/foia_guide.htm#FOIARequests . Scroll about halfway down the page to a button, illustrated here in this view of that portion of the page.
Note that two of the options listed on the above page are for a Computer Extract, or Numident print-out. This print-out includes changes made to the individual’s Social Security record over time, which can help in following the name changes of females. The more expensive copy of the original application will provide your ancestor’s signature, and as in the case of any record, will be the original, not a derivative, record as is the computer extract.
For more detailed information about genealogy research using the SSDI (Social Security Death Index), the Railroad Retirement Board Records, and applying for SS-5’s, use this link to the RootsWeb.com’s Guide to Tracing Family Trees: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~rwguide/lesson10.htm.