Recently, the genealib listserv included a few posts about the Social Security Death Index at Genealogy Bank. I am pretty much an Ancestry SSDI user so I hadn't given much thought to the Genealogy Bank(GB) index. In fact I don't give much thought to that index at all. I just use it when I need it without any consideration of possible intricacies. But the genealib posts were so intriguing that I had to give it try and now I am hooked on it.
Of course it has the same data as any other SSDI but there are a few "value added" features that make it special. If you want to follow along, my search was for Emery Estep who died November 21, 2009 in SC (the SSDI link is attached to the post title). At a very basic level,the first thing you will notice is that he is in the index. Ancestry has a three month delay so Estep is not in there. Genealogy Bank updates more frequently.
I also like GB because it gives the day of the week that the death occured on. Most of our patrons appreciate that info. But my biggest happy face is that it gives an estimated age at death. Now I don't have to engage the computer calculator to subtract the year of birth from the year of death to get an age. Maybe some of you can do that in your head but my head doesn't work that well.
Users do not have to subscribe to GB to access their SSDI. For Richland County Public Library card holders, however, the GB SSDI is available in Newsbank. Newsbank is a newspaper subscription service available to library card holders. It is our archive to many SC newspaper, including The State, as well as, newspapers nationwide. It is great having the SSDI available in Newsbank. In the past I would open Ancestry and use the SSDI to locate dates of death. Then I would open Newsbank to locate an obituary. Now I can do it all in the one database.
While doing some research about searching the SSDI for this post I came across Stephen Morse's research on searching in the SSDI. The site has not been updated since 2002 but Morse wouldn't leave it up if it wasn't still current information. He has done some amazing research on the differences between the different SSDI search engines. He also provides a search engine that will search at the SSDI's at one time. Here is the link to the FAQ: http://stevemorse.org/ssdi/faqi.htm.