“Death Records from the Numerical Identification System” for Genealogical Research (2017 March 23)


>>Andrea: Welcome to today’s National Archives
Know Your Records Program. We are broadcasting live from the National
Archives building in Washington, D.C. Thank you for joining us. For those of you who are here on site, I’d
like to give you a few tips. Hopefully you picked up the handouts that
I left outside on the table. If not, let me know if you did not get a copy. There are three handouts today. Also, we will take your questions at the end
of the presentation. We just ask that because we are live broadcasting,
we want to capture your voice and if you could come to either microphone in the aisle when
you have your questions, at the end of the presentation. For those of you who are watching online,
welcome. You can also find the presentation handouts
and hyperlinks underneath the video screen. Just go to those links and it will take you
right there. You will also find a hyperlink to live captioning. Also, you can participate in the question
and answer period by typing in your questions in the chat feature on the YouTube web page. You just first have to log in. Today’s program is entitled, “Dead Men and
Women Sometimes Do Tell Tales: Death Records from the Numerical Identification System,
for Genealogical Research” by John LeGloahec. This highlights the Numerical Identification
System and discusses the use in genealogical research. John will also draw parallels to other records
in our Access to Archival Databases as well as other files which will be available soon. About our presenter, John LeGloahec, he joined
the National Archives in June 2006 as an Archives Specialist in the Electronic Records Division. Since 2013, he has been a fulltime member
of the branch. He holds a Masters in library since from the
University of Albany and a Masters in Social Studies education from Long Island University. Prior to joining us, John worked at the International
Monetary Fund Archives and the Rockefeller Archives Center. Where he was a supervisor at the Nelson
A. Rockefeller project. John is very active professionally served as Treasurer and Chair of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference. He has also served as President and Treasurer
at the National Archives Assembly. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome — let
me start again. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming
our presenter, John LeGloahec.>>[Applause]
>>John LeGloahec: Thank you, Andrea. Good afternoon to both the people here in
the room as well as people joining us online. Welcome to this Know Your Records presentation
on the Numerical Identification Files or NUMIDENT, which are available from the National
Archives and Records Administration online portal Access to Archival Database or AAD. I’m very pleased to be here with you today
to discuss the new series which we’ve been able to make available to researchers, hoping
to fill in some holes in their genealogical research. Now, the Electronic Records Division of the
National Archives has been accessioning, preserving and providing access to the records of the
federal government for nearly 50 years. The records maintained by the Electronic Records
Division range from raw data files to item level records, PDF documents, emails, and
electronic cables. The majority of the records are from the latter
half of the 20th Century with some records dating back to the World War II era. In most cases, electronic records are transferred
to the National Archives because of their risk of technological obsolescence. If the raw data is relatively clean, the records
can be processed and made available within a short period of time. For example, just within a few years of the
end of the Vietnam War, the National Archives had accessioned many of the operational and
casualty records of that conflict. Also, the Electronic Records Division has
in its custody records that are just a few years old, which benefits researchers working
on contemporary research topics. The division was very pleased to receive the
NUMIDENT from the Social Security Administration because these records contain names, births,
and death dates of deceased Social Security holders. Our unit was equally excited to make the NUMIDENT
records available through AAD as there are a lot of genealogists out there who really
like looking for people, both dead and alive. Now, NARA’s Access to Archival Databases is
an essential tool for researchers, especially genealogists, to locate information in archival
databases about their ancestors. AAD contains more than 172 million individual
records across 65 different series. Now, if you’re a fan of my work and you’ve
seen my other NARA YouTube presentations, you’ll note the uptick in the number of records
available through AAD, which is reflective of the addition of nearly 50 million records
from the NUMIDENT system. AAD covers subjects ranging from genealogy
and personal history topics like immigration and military casualty and service records
to government spending and international relations, to name just a couple of examples. The greatest feature of AAD, though I might
be biased, is it takes the raw data and presents it in a user-friendly format to search and
view individual records. The system is used millions of times each
year, more than 2.6 million hits in the previous fiscal year, and thousands of times per month,
over 9,000 queries in the last fiscal quarter, and hundreds of times per day. I’ve used the analogy that AAD is sort of
the self-service gas pump of the National Archives. It’s a researcher can just pull up to the
portal and get whatever they are looking for with relative ease. Now, shortly I’ll use the NUMIDENT records
to demonstrate the way that you can easily find records of interest. Now Access to Archival Databases is very easy
to use with the records available in a variety of displays. You can conduct a free text search across
AAD by placing a search term in the green box on the AAD homepage. You can also narrow your search by clicking
on any of the categories that are listed in the red box or you can further identify records
arranged by subject matter by clicking on the browse all subjects to the right of the
red box — the lower righ-hand corner of the red box. You will note on the screen shot that we feature
a what’s new on AAD. And you can see there that the first item
there are the NUMIDENT files, which are the most recent set of files that we’ve made available. Now, if you need some assistance, you can
go back to school on searching in AAD by clicking on the Getting Started Guide with the icon
of the chalk board that will help you further navigate AAD. A handout was made available in advance of
the presentation, as Andrea mentioned, which is a quick guide to AAD searching. So, let’s have a closer look at the NUMIDENT
files. There are three types of NUMIDENT records:
death records, which is the focus of this presentation, application records, and claim
records. Now, there is overlap between the three sets
in that a record for an individual may appear in one, two, or all three sets of records. The series contains records for every Social
Security number assigned to individuals with a verified death or who would have been over
110 years old by December 31, 2007. So there are 49,459,293 death records in NUMIDENT
which covers the time period from 1936 through 2007. When the records were transferred to the National
Archives, there were 20 separate files which were merged into nine alphabetically arranged
files at the National Archives. At this time only the death records are available
for searching in AAD but we are in the process of making the other two sets of records available
in the near future. Information contained in the NUMIDENT death
records primarily includes the individual’s full name, their Social Security number, the
date of birth, the date of death, and their last zip code. It is noteworthy, as we will see in some of
the examples coming up, that the death records in NUMIDENT do not include any state-reported
deaths in accordance with Section 205(r) of the Social Security Act. Approximately 10 to 30% of all reported deaths
to the Social Security Administration are state-reported deaths. There are only records for individuals who
received a Social Security number. So you will not find records for individuals
who never received a Social Security number, for one reason or another. In addition, as a result of the Social Security
Administration beginning automated computer processing of the records in 1962, information
on deaths prior to 1962 may be incomplete or missing. Here’s the big disclaimer. The absence of a record for a person is not
proof that the person is alive, though I will illustrate shortly that one individual who
some think is still alive is really dead, according to NUMIDENT. Now, most people have heard of the Social
Security Death Index or SSDI, which is a database of death records created from the Social Security
Administration. So you may ask, well, what’s the big fuss
about NUMIDENT? Isn’t it the same thing? Actually, no. The NUMIDENT death records available on AAD
are output from the master file of the Social Security holders and Social Security number
applications also known as the enumeration system. The Social Security Death Index contains records
derived from the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File, which is an extract of
the death information in NUMIDENT. The NUMIDENT death records available on AAD
contain some of the information that is used to create the Social Security Death Index. In addition, the Social Security Death Index
usually includes fields of information for state Social Security numbers issued and a
lump sum payment. However, these are not fields in the NUMIDENT
death records. But this information may be in the NUMIDENT
SS5 application files or claim records which are not yet available. Now, as I mentioned, you can search the NUMIDENT
files on a variety of search terms, including the individual Social Security number, first
and/or last name, date of birth or death, as well as the last reported zip code of the
individual. Search terms can be placed in the free text
box under the green banner. And to search for an individual’s Social Security
number, enter the number without any dashes, simply the nine-digit number. You can search by an individual’s last name
or first name. You can also add a middle name and/or suffix,
though you would need to alter the search fields on the default screens. Search names are limited to 16 characters
and last names are 21 characters long. You may also use –utilize wild card searches
like the percent sign or the asterisk to help with search that may contain a spelling error. In most if not all, the middle name is only
an initial. And AAD ignores punctuation in names. So for Mr. O’Neal or your ancestor’s hyphenated
last name, you won’t need that punctuation. You can find additional information on searches
in the FAQs that were distributed earlier along with additional details on searching
names with punctuation and/or spaces. It is worth noting that the nine death records
are arranged by last name. And for last names that erroneously begin
with a number or a punctuation mark for whatever reason, those records are available in the
ninth file, last names U through Z and non-alphabetic. By searching at the broadest level, you may
return more results than you are looking for. Using the specific search fields you will
likely have more refined results and a better likelihood of locating the individual or individuals
that you are seeking. One additional field in the death files that
can be searched is zip code, including the last –indicating the last-known zip code
for the individual. However, this field does contain inconsistencies
as the resident zip code is blank in 27% of the records. The zip code may be the five-digit number
or may include the plus four zip code suffix and there may be some X’s in the field. And it is worth noting that AAD only displays
the zip code and not the corresponding town or city. Zip code boundaries are changed over time. And so to identify the corresponding town
or city, researchers will need to locate the zip code at the time of death listed in the
record. Now, dates of birth and/or dates of death
may be searched specifically by a range. Some of the records are missing selected date
information, so it is better to start at the broadest level and then narrow your search. Searching by year first, then adding a month
and finally a day will help refine the search to find the records you may be seeking. For the month and day, you simply select a
number from the code list, for example, 12 for December and 25 for, well, Christmas day. And then for the year field, you can search
equals, between, less than, less than or equal to, or greater than, greater than or equal
to, in order to locate the range of years if you are unsure of the exact year of someone’s
birth or death. You may search by date of birth, date of death,
or both. You may search — you may select multiple
months from the code list. And if you’re unsure of the individual — what
month the individual you’re searching for, for example — didn’t grandma die in the winter? Boy, it was really hot when grandpa died. Wasn’t it? You know, summer, winter, pick a month. Please note that there are approximately 10
million records in NUMIDENT that have some inaccuracy in either the birth date field
or the death date field. To cite a few examples, there are more than
one record with individuals that show an individual, for instance, specifically who was born in
1808 and listed as having died in 1973. There’s a second individual who was listed
as being born in 1874 and died in 2001 at the ripe age of 127. There’s also a record for an individual who
is listed as having been born in 1984 yet died in 1956. So there is a need to verify the dates that
you are searching on. There are also several fields in the records
that are not populated at all. Several reasons for this. Some of the fields were populated on an exception
basis. What this means is that the default version
for the field was blank and it was only populated to indicate that there is an exception. This is the case with the special date of
birth exception indicator, special exception change indicator, master beneficiary record
exception field. For these fields, the code list only includes
the code that indicates the exception and does not include the default value of blank. Only 1% of the records have values in these
fields. Now, it appears that the agency created these
records with the flexibility to add more information in the future. The filler fields are blank fields that the
agency could use in the future. These fields are not populated currently and
the agency may not have needed to populate a field or lacked the information to do so. So let’s dive in and have a look at some specific
NUMIDENT records. There’s something to be said of fame and/or
notoriety. When you pass, your death garners a certain
level of interest. As you can see on this slide, here are the
NUMIDENT entries for three individuals: Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford. All of these named individuals were at one
point President of the United States, all three individuals are, indeed, deceased. But according to NUMIDENT, two of them, Richard
Nixon, on line four in the second image, and Gerald Ford, also on line four of the third
image, are recorded in the records. This is an indication that President Johnson’s
death was likely a state-reported death and not included in the NUMIDENT records that
were transferred to the National Archives. Noteworthy here is that Gerald Ford’s death
record indicates his name as Gerald Ford and not the name that he was born with, Leslie
King, as he had changed his name when he was adopted by the Ford family. President Ford’s application file does indicate
his birth name. And there’s an interesting parallel here in
that most of the records for married women, they are listed by their married names and
not their maiden names. Now, here’s another example that certain people
will find either affirming or greatly disappointing. There are many people out there who may wish
to believe that Elvis is still alive. There is the famous photo seen above that
misspells Presley’s name on a roadside historical marker, which led many to believe that Elvis
was, in fact, still alive, had faked his own death. In the other image of Elvis’ grave stone you
can see his name is spelled correctly. Now, to confirm all of this, we can go to
NUMIDENT and see that Elvis Presley, one of four found in the NUMIDENT files, was born
in January of 1935, died in August of 1977. The death was reported in NUMIDENT in December
of 1977. It’s on the internet. It must be true. Elvis is dead, folks. For our next example, it’s beyond dispute
that the Reverend Martin Luther King was killed by an assassin in April of 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. However, as you can see by Dr. King’s record
in NUMIDENT, the file was posted to the system in 1988, more than 20 years after his death. There is no explanation for this inconsistency,
though you can also see that the record is somewhat incomplete when you compare it to
other records in NUMIDENT as his date of birth is indicated as not captured or reported or
is the actual day of his death, which was April 12. Now, yesterday, March 22, would have been
my mother’s 87th birthday. But as you can see from this NUMIDENT record,
my mother died 11 years ago last month. When we started reviewing these files before
adding them to AAD, we tested the files by running queries against the records. And I searched for my mother’s record, which
I knew was in the Social Security Death Index, so I assumed it would be in these records
as well. I located the record for my mother and was
reminded that her last name is spelled incorrectly, though all of the other information contained
in record is correct, her date of birth, her date of death, and other information that
was entered into the system. I will add here that the National Archives
does not change records that have been accessioned into our custody, even for me. And I work here. The creating agency may change the record,
and if I really wanted the record to be corrected, I could file a request with the Social Security
Administration to correct the spelling of my mother’s last name. Now, despite whatever they might tell you,
computers are not perfect. As a result, and as we’ve just seen, there
are any number of reasons why you might not be able to locate the records in which you
are interested. As noted earlier, the NUMIDENT death files
do not include all deaths between 1936 and 2007. In particular, state-reported deaths are not
in NUMIDENT and reflect between 10% and 30% of all reported deaths. Also as previously mentioned, the files do
not include deaths for individuals who never had a Social Security number. Some individuals may not have ever applied
for a Social Security number nor received one. Also, sadly in some cases, children who died
in infancy may not have yet received a Social Security number at the time of their death. Thirdly, once the Social Security Administration
began maintaining death information using automated methods in 1962, it resulted in
some information on deaths prior to 1962 to be incomplete or missing. And also, as just noted with my mother’s record,
some of the records contain misspellings or other inaccuracies. You may have success with a variety of spellings
or names or broaden your search. There are a total of 63 records out of 50
million, pretty good, that contain some punctuation mark instead of a letter if an individual’s
name and is found in that last file, last names U through Z, and non-alphabetic. It’s important to also make sure that you
are searching in the correct file. There are nine NUMIDENT death files organized
alphabetically by last name. If you know the last name, be sure you are
searching in the correct file. Please note it’s possible that the last name
may be spelled with a different first letter. For example, a C instead of an S. So you need
to search — you may need to search in more than one file using different spellings. Now, once the nearly 50 million death records
were made available through AAD, staff at the Electronic Records Reference Branch began
working on the other two parts of the NUMIDENT system, the Application Files and the Claim
Records. The NUMIDENT Application Form SS5, is the
next set of records that will be made available alongside the death files. The records contain information extracted
from the SS5 form, application for a Social Security card or application for a Social
Security account number. Information found in the NUMIDENT application
entries include an applicant’s full name, parents’ names, sex, place of birth, and other
information about the application or subsequent changes to the applicant’s records. There are more than 72 million records from
the application files covering individuals with a verified death or who would have been
110 by December 31, 2007. Once the application files are completed,
NARA staff will work on adding the claim entries to AAD which contain information on the type
of claim, life or death, the individual’s full name, date of birth, sex, parents’ names,
and place of birth. The transfer of the claim records contains
more than 25 million records. Now, if you’re still stuck, as with most of
the series available through AAD, the National Archives has created a list of frequently
asked questions or FAQs to assist researchers with finding information in the files. If you’re interested in more information about
the nine-digit number that follows you throughout life, and in this particular presentation,
through death, you may wish to read the story of the Social Security number which was written
in 2009 by Carolyn Puckette who was an employee of the Office of Research Evaluation and Statistics,
Office of Retirement and Disability Policy in the Social Security Administration. She had a really big business card. Both of these documents were made available
prior to this presentation. So, thank you all for your attention on this
great topic, all be it a bit morbid. But if our ancestors weren’t able to tell
us anything, how would we learn from our past? The Electronic Records Reference Branch looks
forward to assisting you with your searches. We can be reached by email at the address
listed or individuals should feel free to contact me directly. I am happy to answer any questions that may
have come in during the presentation or that people may have in the room. Again, I just remind what Andrea pointed out. If you are in the room and have a question,
please come to one of the microphones at the end. But thank you very much.>>Andrea: Wonderful. Thank you, John. So if you have any questions, like John said,
come to the microphones if you’re here with us online. And if you are watching on YouTube, go ahead
and submit your questions to me via chat. And I do have several question that have come
online. So I’ll start with one of those and then we’ll
go to our audience here in this building. The first question, For the fields where the
default is blank and only exceptions are noted, is there a way to do a search for the records
that are not blank?>>John LeGloahec: As I pointed out, I think
it was only about 20% have some sort of exception. But what you could do —
when you pull up any particular of the file and you would go to show more fields. You can see this particular field, the default
code is B. So you could add that field to your search and then you could search, add
the letter B to that search, and it would show you any records in which that field has
been populated. Yes, sir?>>Two questions. One — you mentioned the Social Security card
and then a Social Security account number. What’s the difference between the two?>>John LeGloahec: Your Social Security card
contains your Social Security account on it which is your Social Security number.>>And when you do a search, I missed the
part — if I add, let’s say, a name and then I add a date of birth, is it going to be — is
it always going to be an “and” or can I designate an “and” and “or” for those fields?>>John LeGloahec: Did you have somebody specific
you’d like to look for?>>I guess we could.>>John LeGloahec: Sure.>>Last name is Bellaire.>>John LeGloahec: So B –
>>B-e-l-l-a-I-r-e.>>John LeGloahec: So you could put in whatever
information you want, start at the broadest level and narrow down. So you put in the person’s individual name,
Bellaire.>>John LeGloahec: And date of birth or date
of death?>>Date of death, 2015.>>John LeGloahec: Here’s an indication as
I was talking about. The ability to be able to search from a range. So you’re not exactly sure, you could say,
all right, well, we believe that it was between –
>>Yeah, say 2014 and 2016.>>John LeGloahec: That’s not going to be
in here. These files only go to 2007.>>Oh, 2007. Ok. Yeah, well go ahead and put in, then —
>>John LeGloahec: We’ll just say for argument’s sake —
>>You can put in — let me think for a second. You got me on the spot here.>>John LeGloahec: Sure.>>Let me think.>>John LeGloahec: Live searching in AAD,
folks.>>1980 through 1985. But my question is, Can I do an “and”or “or”? In other words, maybe I want to find all the
Bellaires but it might not be in that date range.>>John LeGloahec: This search we just plugged
in, this will bring back anything with the last name of Bellaire who died between 19
— what did we say? 1980 and 1985. And there is only one record in NUMIDENT,
and it is a Clara Bellaire, who was born August 22, 1919, and died in December of 1980.>>So it’s an “and” type of search. So both have to match.>>John LeGloahec: That is correct. Yeah.>>I couldn’t say I’m looking for a certain
person with this last name and do a search and say –or that was born in this date range. It would give me all the records for all of
those things.>>John LeGloahec: Right. And say you have the ability to plug in any
or all or none of the information. So say if you start with the last name, and
then you could say, all right, I found 100 Bellaires. You say, all right, now I want to see all
of those who died in this date range. Then you narrow down and drill down into the
results to be able to find what you’re looking for.>>Thank you.>>John LeGloahec: Mm-hmm.>>Andrea: We have more questions. again, if you could make your way to the microphone. In the meanwhile, I have at least five questions
online. So we’ll keep going. Great question. Let’s see. We’ve got a more general question. The person is not familiar with the term “state-reported
death.” So I was wondering if you could explain the
different types of reported deaths in that field.>>John LeGloahec: She’s not alone. The individual is not alone. What is a state-reported death? It is the mystery of the century. What we are saying is that section 205(r)
of the Social Security Act says state-reported deaths will be reported this way. So they were reported to the Social Security
Administration but for some reason they did not go into the NUMIDENT system. So just because if you are a state-reported
death, it didn’t mean you didn’t die. It just means your information is not in these
records.>>Andrea: Ok. Hopefully that helps.>>John LeGloahec: If she finds out more,
please have her tell us.>>Andrea: Right. Write us and tell us. A couple of questions that came in about SS5. First one is, Once information from SS5s are
uploaded, can interested parties still get a copy of the original SS5?>>John LeGloahec: These records — the SS5
records that we bring in –so this will be the entirety of the information. The actual paper application forms are, in
most cases, applications and forms like that, contracts, things like that, are not usually
considered permanent records. So those records probably will not be accessed
anymore.>>Andrea: Thank you. So once they’re in there, it’s a good chance
they are not available anymore.>>John LeGloahec: This will be the best representation
of that data.>>Andrea: Our next question about the SS5. Can John tell us about what fields might need
to be redacted when the SS5s are added to AAD? So what might be removed for personally identifiable
information?>>John LeGloahec: Well, the information that
is contained in those SS5 records, as I pointed out, some of the fields that are normally
available — everybody who is in those files, those SS5 records, they are deceased. Unless it is a very young child, it is more
than likely that their parents, which would have been listed in the SS5 record as well,
would have likely have been dead as well. Because unless you were younger than 110 years
old in 2007, that record will not be released as part of the SS5 records. A, are you dead? Or B, are you older than 110? If those two things were not satisfied, their
record would not be released.>>Andrea: Thank you. I’ll just note, the comments that I’m getting
online about why they wanted the original, it might be because they want to see a signature
of the person or if there was a strikethrough. That was what was behind those questions. Next question. Can John tell us more about the field which
refers to another SSN?>>John LeGloahec: This is the other number
field which contains, according to the agency — I just want to refer to my notes here. The other number is a claims account number
for Title II and black lung as well as the house under number for Title XVI. 13%
of the records in NUMIDENT are blank or have a null value for these fields. That’s what the agency reported to us when
they sent us the records, that that’s what they used that field for. So at this point that’s pretty much all we
know about it at this point.>>Andrea: Thank you. Do we have any more questions from our audience
here? If not, I’ll continue on. We have a very active online audience. I’m not sure which this goes back to. Someone asked, Are clone extensions added
to them, too? Clone extensions.>>John LeGloahec: I’m not familiar with what
a clone extension would be.>>Andrea: Here we go. They clarified. Advance directive giving extensions life would
make an extension of life to a previous end of life legislation — oh, wait a minute. This is odd. We’re going to skip that one. Let’s go on to something that’s more pertaining
to our actual records. There was some discussion about when you said
if there was a mistake in the record. I was wondering if you could go back and clarify
if it’s possible to make a correction and how if there’s some mistake in the record
or in AAD, how would one go about fixing that?>>John LeGloahec: Well, as I pointed out,
the first thing is that the National Archives doesn’t change records that have been accessioned
into our custody. If you locate an error in AAD or anywhere,
you would have to go back to the creating agency. So in the case of my mother’s record, which
is spelled incorrectly, I could petition the Social Security Administration and say, hey,
look, her name is spelled wrong here; I’d like it to be spelled right in the next set
of records. So what they could do is they could go in
and say, ok, well, we’re going to correct this spelling error and then they will send
a new set of records to replace the one that are incorrect. We get that a lot with people — veterans
who will say, you know, this is wrong, you know, I was wounded on this date and not this
date. My buddy was killed on this date and not this
date. Well, this is what we say. This is what the agency told us at the time. You can go back to whatever agency created
these records and say, you know — I think it varies by agency as to who, you know, you
go back to the agency and say this is wrong, how would you make it right.>>Andrea: Thank you. I’m going to step up here with you. We don’t have any more questions, actually. I think you did an excellent job of answering
all of our questions. I want to thank everybody who attended today’s
program. And if you have additional questions, our
presenter John LeGloahec very kindly offered his own email address or you can submit questions
to [email protected] Thank you, on behalf of the National Archives
and our presenter, John, for attending. And also, I’ll say that this presentation
will remain online. If you want to review it and if you are interested
in a transcript, I will get that about a month later. Just send a message to the Know Your Records
program, [email protected] Thank you for attending.

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