Genealogy Search Tips

The Social Security Death Index and
the Search for Joseph Gill

We started with a Google Search (you can use other search engines) by keying in "Joseph Gill" Chicago. The third result was for "The Political Graveyard" which claims to be the Internet's most comprehensive source of U. S. political biography. According to this site there was a Joseph L. Gill who was born in Chicago in 1885 - he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1932, 1940, 1944, 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960 and 1964.

In one of the Google search results there was reference to Joseph Gill and Richard Daley, the former Mayor of Chicago. So we did another search by adding Daley to "Joseph Gill" Chicago - we found books and other references that discuss Joseph Gill and his relationship with Chicago's Mayor Daley.

We then went to the online Social Security Death Index to try and find out when Joseph Gill died. We selected the Advanced Search option and keyed in Joseph Gill and 1885 for birth year. Three Joseph Gills appeared in the results but only 1 was born in Illinois in 1885 and he died in January, 1972. To see if we could find other Joseph Gills born in the 1880s we did another advanced search and left the year of birth blank - but we added IL for Illinois as the last residence and then searched again.

Our search results from the Social Security Death Index indicated that there were 9 Joseph Gills whose last residence was Illinois but only one was born in the 1880s. At this point we believed that Joseph L. Gill was born in Chicago in 1885 and died there in January, 1972.

Since we now knew Joseph Gill's social security number we decided to order a photocopy of his application for a Social Security card (Form SS-5) from the Social Security Administration. When we received a copy of this application we learned that Joseph Gill applied for a Social Security Number on May 1, 1940 and that his wife was Bertha Fogarty, his father was Richard Gill and his mother was Bridget Sweeney. We also learned his place of birth, his home address and the name and address of his employer.

Genealogy Search Tip

Find a Birth Date

Funeral home memorial cards are a good source of birth dates. These are the small cards that the funeral home traditionally prints as a tribute to the deceased. They are usually available to everyone who attends the deceased's wake or funeral.

Sometimes these cards can be found online and in many cases they are in family possessions. They are also called Prayer Cards, Funeral Cards, Memorial Cards or Holy Cards.

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