Re: SS-5s for Free ?
Sorry, don't know of anything free from SS.
The SS Application will give you:
Date of birth
Name of Employer & Employer's address
Parents' names (also mother's maiden name).
There are many ways to obtain info cheaper:
A death certificate, which is cheaper than the SS, and sometimes free, may give all the above info, plus how long the person lived in the U.S., how long in IL, how long in the Ward, and not only the parents names (if the informant knew that info) but also where the parents were born, cause of death, funeral home, cemetery, and informant's name (who may also be related).
See this site for info on 'free' death certifs.
(If there is not enough info on your person's death certif, send for his or her brother or sister's death certif.)
After obtaining the death certif, check with the cemetery.The parents may be buried in the same plot.
Also, microfilm of old city directories will give you the persons occupation and address.
You can find a Family History Center Library by going to:
Click on "Library" then "Family History Centers."
Enter your city or town, to find a library in your area.If they don't already have the Chicago Directories on microfilm, they can order them for the cost of postage - usually about $3 or $4 per microfilm roll.
An IL census record which can be ordered online may provide more info:
Also, see if any family members have old funeral cards stashed away.The card may give you the name of a Church, where you can check for more records.It should also give a death date, then you can obtain an obit.It should also give the cemetery name.I have one that even gave the mother's maiden name.
Check all the databases at the IL State Archives site:
Also, if you get real lucky, the Chicago Public Library may already have records for the surname you are searching:
Search the advanced site at google.com to see if perhaps someone else is searching the same name.
I like to enter the name, plus an additional word, such as Genealogy, or Ancestry, to narrow down the hits.
I hope the above suggestions will help you to obtain info without spending a fortune.