Archives for December 2013

Social Security Death Index access to change

Legislation signed by President Obama on Dec. 26, 2013 will restrict the general public’s access to the Social Security Death Master File, often referred to as the Social Security Death Index.

In Section 203 of H.J. Res. 59, the legislation directs the Secretary of Commerce to establish a program that will restrict access to the Social Security Death Index. This free database has been an emormous help to genealogists because it contains a person’s dates of birth and death, location where the Social Security card was issued and the state where the last benefit check was paid.

The legislation will restrict access to the death index for the three years following a person’s death. The program is intended to take effect within 90 days of enactment.

When a relative’s family did not place an obituary in the newspaper, this was the go-to source to find out a date of death. It is a shame that this will no longer be available as a resource for current death information.

NYS Health Department Death Index available online has recently incorporated the New York State Department of Health Death Index into its site.

The New York State Department of Health death index DOES NOT include New York City (but then again maybe it does — see last paragraph.) It covers the years 1957-1963. The index contains information on date of death, gender, age at death, place of death and the New York State file number that you can use if you wish to order a copy of the death certificate from the Department of Health in Albany.

The collection will be updated quarterly. Records must be on file for 50 years prior to their release on the website.

To access it from, go to:

Caution: If your search result only lists New York, United States as the place of death this means the person died outside of New York State. If this is the case, there is still a way to find the person’s place of death.

In order to determine the person’s place of death, you must use the Department of Health website at:

Search on the person’s name and then write down the numerical code that appears in the column Residence Code. On the right side of the page, click on the red “i about” symbol. Scroll down the About the Page box until you see the heading called Attachments. Click on the third attachment, “Out of State Codes.” You will see a one page document that lists the codes used for each state, Canada, Mexico, etc. and in the top right hand corner are the codes for each borough of New York City.

Yes it does seem contradictory that the collection description states that the index does not include New York City and yet there are codes for New York City included in the index! So check the index anyway even if you are sure your relative died in the city. They may still be in the index.

Queens, NY Probate Records available has recently added another record collection for New York State — Queens County Probate Records, 1785 -1950.

The collection is not complete at this time and records will be added as they become available.

Records cannot be searched by name but can be browsed by year.

Information available at this time includes:
Accounts – 1823 – 1899
Administrations – 1787 – 1899
Inventories of Accounting – 1814 – 1899
Mixed Proceedings – 1899 – 1932
Probates – 1830 – 1899
Probate Index cards – 1804 – 1899
Probate Records – only 1927
Sales of Real Estate – 1804 – 1899
Wills – 1787 – 1889

For more information, go to:

Computer genealogy group to meet Thursday

The Long Island Master Genealogist’s Users Group will meet tomorrow, Dec. 19, at 7:30 p.m. at the Family History Center of the Church of Latter Day Saints in Plainview.

The topic will be “Using SecondSite to Create a Family History CD or Web Site” and the speaker will be Mark Waldron.

For more information contact Walt, 516-921-0841 or Mark, 631- 724-4162.

Orange County, NY probate records available has recently added a new collection entited, “Orange County Probate Records, 1787-1938.”

There is no name index to this collection, you can only browse the images by year.

Included in the collection are: Estate Files 1834 – 1938; Original Wills, 1847 – 1914; Petitions for Administration, 1844 – 1938 and Probate of Wills, 1836 – 1933. More images will be added as they become available.

To look at the collection, go to:

New York Times interviews well known genealogist

The New York Times recently ran a four-part series entitled “Advice on How to Research Family History,” as part of its “Ask An Expert Column”.

The Times interviewed Elizabeth Shown Mills, a genealogist, historian and author. Ms. Mills is well known for her reference book “Evidence Explained,” which is considered the standard for analysis and citation of genealogical work. She is past president of the American Society of Genealogists and the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

The series was published on Nov. 6, 13, 20 and 27, 2013. Here are the links for each part of the series:

Part I –

Part 2 –

Part 3 –

Part 4 –

Jewish genealogy group to meet Sunday

The Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island will meet this Sunday, Dec. 15, at 2 p.m. at the Mid Island JCC-Y, 45 Manetto Hill Road in Plainview. A help session will take place at 1:30 p.m.

The topic will be “Jewish History of Lodz, Poland and Genealogical Research” and the speaker will be Roni Seibel Liebowtiz.

For more information, go to the website at:

Genealogy webinar to be presented Tuesday

Genealogy webinar to be presented Tuesday


The Illinois State Historical Society will present a webinar entitled “Miracles, Mysteries and Mayhem: Online Family Trees,” on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 9 p.m.

The webinar will discuss effective techniques to determine if the family tree you are seeing online is reliable or it it needs to be pruned!

To register for this free program, go to:

The Illinois State Historical Society presents free webinars the second Tuesday of each month. To see their schedule for the year, go to:

Online cemetery web sites continued

There are three of the popular websites that provide cemetery information submitted by volunteers. These sites are, and let’s you search for burial locations for both famous and not so famous people. It was founded in 1995 and has over 108 million grave records. You can search by name or by cemetery. Though the emphasis is on the U.S., Findagrave also includes cemeteries from 200 different countries.

When you sign up to be a contributor to you can post information about your family on the site and also add photos to your entries. In addition, you can volunteer to take photos for other people and post photos to their entries as well.

For more information, go to: began in 1997 and is a transcription website. There are no photos attached to any of the records. Contributions of cemetery transcriptions from the public can be sent by email. The staff prefers submissions of complete cemetery records but will accept partial cemetery submissions also. has burial information from all over the United States and from 18 countries. For more information, go to:

Billiongraves is a new site begun about 3 years ago. It has just reached the 6 million record mark and includes cemeteries from 37 countries. Satellite images are available for the cemeteries as well as the GPS coordinates.

Using a free app, contributors submit photos of grave markers from their cell phones and then can add the transcription details. You can search the site by name or cemetery.

For more information, go to:

Search New York City Cemeteries Online

There are some cemeteries in the New York City area that have online indexes searchable by name.

Maybe you will find a missing relative in one of these locations.

Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn – Click on Genealogy

The Evergreens Cemetery, Brooklyn – Click on Records

Fresh Pond Crematory, Queens

Hart Island Cemetery, The Bronx

Cypress Hills National Cemetery, Brooklyn – Select Cypress Hills from the pull down menu

Jewish Burial Registry – Click on Databases and then select Burial Registry. Limit the location to New York. Cemeteries include: Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn; Baron Hirsch and United Hebrew Cemeteries on Staten Island and Montefiore, Mount Carmel, Mount Hebron and Mount Zion Cemeteries in Queens.

Next time we will look at cemetery indexes that are created by volunteer contributions.