Friday, May 18, 2007

Minnesota Vital Records Indexes and State Census Records Online

Minnesota State and Territorial Census Records
Ancestry has recently added a database for Minnesota Territorial and State Censuses. These censuses were generally taken between the Federal census years. Ancestry's database contains Minnesota territorial and state censuses for 1849-1850, 1853, 1855, 1857, 1865, 1875, 1885, and 1905. It is presently free to search with registration. See the Minnesota section at: Genealogy Research Guides - State Census Records

Minnesota Vital Records Indexes
The Minnesota Historical Society has an online death index that covers 1904-2001, and a recently updated online birth index from 1900-1934. Ancestry has an online Minnesota birth index that covers 1935-2002. They also have indexes for Minnesota marriages 1958-2001 (excluding 1996), divorces 1970-1995, and deaths 1908-2002. Ancestry's indexes are part of their subscription-based service. For links to all of these indexes see: Online Minnesota Vital Records Indexes

Monday, May 14, 2007

Gregory Peck in the Social Security Death Index and his SS-5 Form

In 2003 when I first heard that Gregory Peck had died, my reaction was, oh no, we've lost Atticus Finch. Harper Lee may have created the Atticus Finch character in her beloved novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, but Gregory Peck made him real in the equally beloved film version. It seemed as though he wasn't playing a role at all, but putting his own sincerity and feelings about racial inequality onto the screen. So when he died it wasn't that we had lost a great and popular actor. It felt like we had lost America's kind and noble grandfather. He was one of those rare Hollywood celebrities who you seemed to know and respect even if you had never met him.

Here is Gregory Peck's listing in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI):

Birth: 05 Apr 1916
Death: 12 Jun 2003 (V)
Last Residence: 90077 (Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA)
Last Benefit: (none specified)
Social Security Number: 547-16-9811
Issued: California

Using the information from an SSDI listing, a copy of the person's SS-5 form can be obtained from the Social Security Administration for a fee. The SS-5 is the form a person filled out when they applied for a Social Security Card. Here's a copy of Gregory Peck's SS-5 (click on it to see a larger view).

Gregory Peck - Social Security SS-5 formAs you can see it gives all sorts of information about the person that can be useful for further genealogy research. The SS-5 for Gregory Peck shows his full name (Eldred Gregory Peck), his date and place of birth (April 5, 1916 in San Diego, California), and the full names of his parents (Gregory Pearl Peck and Bernice Mae Ayres). Note that the maiden name of his mother is given. (There are restrictions regarding the release of the parents' names -- see the link below.) This SS-5 also shows the name and location of his employer, and his address in San Diego when he applied for his Social Security Card in 1937, which is about 6 years before he made his first film.

While putting this article together I asked my mother what her favorite Gregory Peck movies were. Here is her list: Keys of the Kingdom (1944, his second film), Duel in the Sun (1946), Gentleman's Agreement (1947), Twelve O'Clock High (1949), Roman Holiday (1953, with the great Audrey Hepburn, who became a lifelong friend), and To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). During his film career he received five best actor Academy Award nominations, and won the Oscar just once. That was for To Kill a Mockingbird. I think it's fitting that he will likely be remembered for the role of Atticus Finch. Gregory Peck may have died in 2003, but thanks to him and Harper Lee, Atticus Finch will live on in the film and novel.

Helpful Links
Social Security Death Index - Online Searching

How to order a copy of the Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5) of a deceased person Note the restrictions given there regarding proof of death and the release of parents' names.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Ancestry Adds Mexican Border Crossing Records 1903-1957

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, Ancestry has added a database of Mexican border crossing records (1903-1957) to their subscription-based U.S. genealogy records collection. This database contains more than 3.5 million entries and includes images from the National Archives microfilm of these records. Many of the later records include a photograph of the person.

See the Mexico Border Crossings section at US Ports of Arrival and their Available Passenger Lists 1820-1957

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Happy First Birthday, Genealogy Roots Blog!

I've been doing this crazy genealogy blogging thing for a year now. I started this blog a year ago today. The original idea was to list updates to my various directories of online genealogy records. But then I started adding all sorts of unexpected things. And I made some new online friends from this.

So the Genealogy Roots Blog is now a toddler, just learning to walk...

I hope you've found some helpful genealogy sources from reading this blog. And thanks for stopping by.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Newly Added Online Military Records Indexes

Links to the items listed below were recently added to the Directory of Online Military Indexes, Records and Rosters of Soldiers

Revolutionary War
- Sons of the American Revolution - Revolutionary War Patriots Index and Graves Registry
- List of 8000 Prisoners on the Old Jersey Prison Ship
- Georgia: List of Loyalists Banished from Georgia - 1783
- New Jersey: Official Register of the Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Revolutionary War
- New York: Index to New York Revolutionary War Invalid Pension Records 1801-1815
- New York Revolutionary War Pension Lists of 1792-1795

Mexican War
- Pennsylvania Soldiers in the War with Mexico, 1846-1847

Civil War
- Kentucky: Records of Death and Interment at Camp Nelson, KY, 1864-1865
- Michigan Civil War Principals and Substitutes Index
- Mississippi: Beauvoir Soldiers Home Veterans
- Missouri: Index to Descriptive Recruitment Lists of Volunteers for the United States Colored Troops for the State of Missouri, 1863-1865
- Pennsylvania Civil War Era Newspapers - Digitized and Searchable - a project of Penn State University

World War One
- Colorado: Fallen Heroes of World War I from Denver, Colorado

World War Two
World War II Prisoners of the Japanese, Data File (AAD)

American Merchant Marine Databases:
- Names of WWII Merchant Marine Killed
- Names & Fates of WWII Merchant Marine POWs
- Names of U.S. Naval Armed Guard Killed and Wounded

Vietnam War
- Names of Vietnam War Merchant Marine Killed

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Illinois Genealogy: the Musical - Well, Sorta

Come on Feel the Illinoise!
Some thoughts on the great state of Illinois, having Illinois ancestors and an album called Illinois (this is actually a wacky CD review with a bit about genealogy - yeah, sneaky, I know)...

In 2005 a rather obscure musician/songwriter named Sufjan Stevens released an album called Illinois that is slowly making its way toward underground classic status. Apparently Mr. Stevens would like to make 50 such albums, one for each state, but he has quite a ways to go. In 2003 he released one for Michigan. And now just 48 states remain between him and immortality.

Illinois CD by Sufjan Stevens album coverThe first song on the Illinois album is called "Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois." And now you know that Highland is the Roswell of Illinois. My great great grandparents, Frank and Mary Appel, came (separately) from Germany and settled in Highland, Illinois in the middle of the 19th Century. Frank was briefly on the first Highland city council, but he didn't like it that pigs were roaming around everywhere, so he and the other councilmen passed a law banning livestock from the city limits. The local farmers didn't like this at all and Frank was not re-elected to the city council - he received a mere 6 votes in the election. Let this be a lesson to all you politicians out there who do stupid things. Instead he opened a saloon, which was probably frequented by space aliens and drunken pigs.

My favorite song on the Illinois CD is "Chicago" which is about the city where my brother was born. Ok, he was actually born in Cook County, in a place called Des Plaines, which is also where Ray Kroc started building his McDonald's restaurant chain.

The best thing about the album really, aside from all the melancholy songs and quirky arrangements, is the weird song titles. Here's one: "They are Night Zombies!! They are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahhhh!" That's really one of the titles. It's an Illinois thing. You'll understand if you once lived there or live there now. Or if you have saloon-keeping great great grandfathers from Highland, Illinois, who were not liked by zombie pig farmers.

And if you're going to rhyme "Decatur" with "alligator" like Mr. Stevens does, well, I'm going to think you're cool. And I'm going to write a non-sensical genealogy blog post that has nothing to do with genealogy, but actually kinda does...

-former Cook County resident, Joe B.

You might be interested in...