Saturday, September 17, 2005

Saturday Again?!

Wow, the week went fast! And it's been a rather exciting one spent corresponding with a cousin who's done some very significant work on the family history. At an appropriate future point, I'll talk more about that--but it's been great.

A Few Research and Tech Bits

I noticed that the National Archives has changed its home page. It's a leaner, cleaner look. Finding what one needs up front is easier now. Unfortunately, it's still a bit cumbersome to get to places useful to genealogical research. For example, it's about six confusing clicks from the front to the World War II enlistment records database, even though "World War II" has a link on the "Research" page. Because of the way the Archives site is set up, you can't bookmark specific online databases. But you can bookmark the search page for the Access to Archival Databases. has also updated its online appearance. While I was looking at that, I decided to check out the evaluation version of Personal Ancestral File Companion 5.2. Now I know there are a lot of programs out there and everybody has their favorites. I'm young and impressionable [there's at least one lie there!], and I liked PAF Companion [no lie!]. It prints various reports in diverse formats quickly and easily. The colors are perfect and navigation is a joy. I especially liked the swiftness with which the program produced a kinship report. I bought the licensed version for $8.25. . . .

Google has added a blog search to its portfolio. About time. . . .

Someone on a mail list I'm on asked recently how long it takes the Social Security Administration to respond to requests for copies of applications for Social Security
numbers. These applications are very valuable sources of genealogical information. The applications are available for deceased individuals under the Freedom of Information Act. The government charges $27.00 if the requestor provides the individual's Social Security Number or $29.00 if the SSN is not provided. My experience has been that it takes about four weeks to get a reply if the SSN is provided. Most people use one of the form letters available on Internet genealogy sites to request these applications. But today, as I was perusing the Web, it occurred to me that the SSA could easily allow folks to request and pay for Social Security records online. The records would still be mailed out, but how about it, SSA?

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