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Rhonda's Tips: Genealogy Questions Answered
by Rhonda R. McClure

February 14, 2002
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Passport Indexes

Q: I checked carefully after reading the article about the passport application index at Family History Library. Their catalog listed indexes for 1860 to 1923. I ordered two films only to find out that the index only goes to 1880. What am I doing wrong? Is there an index from 1880 to 1923? It would be out of the question to go through all applications in the time span. Trip was taken August 1914. -- Henry

A: There are times when the way in which an entry in the Family History Library Catalog has been prepared causes confusion. I have noticed that such confusion comes when the catalog entry deals with a large collection of microfilmed records, such is the case with these passport applications.

The entry, for those who have not found it yet, is listed under the subject search of "Passports - United States." Typing in "Passports" brings up about five subject entries, only one of which has to do with the United States. When you open that entry and look at the total number of microfilms, you will find that this entry catalogs 2,095 reels of microfilm.

I think where your problem came is that you ordered the microfilm based on the first alphabetized entries you saw. However, if you look back at the catalog entry, you will discover that the second film listed in the catalog entry gives the years up to 1880. It will be necessary to look further in the catalog entry. You may need to look at each film entry so that you get the correct set of index films. You are looking for those alphabetical films that come after the listing "Card Index to Passport Applications, 1906-1923." You will find this entry about 35 reels into the catalog entry. Specifically, the alphabetical cards begin on film 1429905.

Each of these index cards have many names written on them. You will need to pay attention to the dates, especially if you are dealing with a common surname. However, once you go through the index, you will then return to this same FHLC entry to locate the application films.

Finding a Tree in World Family Tree

Q: I ran a new Family Finder Report in Family Tree Maker and got a new, 4-star match on someone I've been trying to get info on for a very long time. I was told that this person was found in World Family Tree Volume 68, Tree 592, but when I searched for that tree on the site, that Tree is not available in Volume 68. Is this a typical problem with this site? I'm assuming that if this tree was located online by Family Tree Maker then it is somewhere on this site. Can you offer any helpful hints or tips? -- Kathy

A: It is always possible that the link to that tree was just not making the complete connection. When we access a site on the Internet, we are not making a direct connection from our computer to the computer hosting the site. Instead there are a number of different machines that we travel through, referred to as hops.

However, all of the online databases available through offer you the ability to go to a specific section of the database. For instance, with the 1900 census I can select first the state, and then either search for a certain person, with both the given and surname, or I can begin to scan the names by going to a given surname and then looking at the list of people.

A similar method is available in the World Family Tree. At the home page, place your cursor over the "My" button. Select the "My Online Data Library" from the menu that appears. This will take you to the list of online data subscriptions, where you can click on the "World Family Tree" link (keep in mind, you must subscribe to the World Family in order to view its contents). Here you will be presented with a page that allows you to search for a particular individual or go to a particular tree. Through the pull down menu for the particular trees, you can find select the volume in question, then the link to the appropriate group of trees where your tree number falls. Finally you will see a page that lists those trees in numerical order, so you need only to scroll down until you see the link to the tree in question.

Through my subscription, I was able to find Tree 592 in Volume 68 but did notice that for that particular tree there is no "View Tree" option, just the ability to download the GEDCOM file. This might explain why you could not view it online.

Numident vs. SS-5

Q: I came across one of your columns in my research into what exactly a Social Security Numident printout is. Does it include the same information as the Social Security Administration form (date of original application, parents, etc.)? What exactly is on the printout? There are several ancestors I need to order Social Security information on, and if the Numident printout includes what I need to work my way back through their life, then it would be just as good to me, and less expensive. -- Sheri

A: There are noticeable differences between the Numident card and the SS-5 form. And while some information can be found on both, each has some distinctive information as well.

The SS-5, which currently costs $27.00, includes the following information

  • Full name of applicant
  • Place of residence (including street, city, and state)
  • Name and address of employer
  • Age of applicant
  • Date and place of birth
  • Name of parents (including maiden name of mother)
  • Gender and color
  • Signature

The Numident does not have all of this information, but it does have some information that is not found on the original SS-5

  • Full name of applicant
  • Date of birth
  • State or country of birth
  • Place of residence
  • Employer
  • Name changes for married women
  • Address changes (if the individual moved)

As you can see, the ideal situation would be to get both, but that isn't always financially possible.

Beginning Genealogist

Q: I am 70 years old and a beginning genealogist as well as a beginning computer operator. I need to find the most up to date information on how to approach and finish my project before I die. Any help will be appreciated. -- Cal

A: You'll be happy to learn that the Internet affords genealogists many exciting opportunities that were not possible just years ago. Before the Internet, traditional research required traveling to a variety of repositories. While most people still find it necessary to travel to court houses and libraries, researchers can use the information on the Internet as a great starter.

The first thing you want to do is to gather as much information as possible from home resources. That is, information you may have tucked away in photo albums, shoe boxes, or memory books. Ideally you want to be back a couple of generations because the bulk of the information found on the Internet is from the early 1900s on back. While some sites have information on those living today, experience has shown that you'll have more success when you know more about the family.

If you are brand new to genealogy, you may want to start here on the site with the many excellent free lessons and articles. Check out the menu items under the Learning Center. This will introduce you to many of the resources and record types that you will need to work with along with how to access records available on microfilm and get the most out of the Internet.

Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at

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