Treasure Chest Thursday: My First SS-5

Ward genealogyI recently ordered my first SS-5, which is an application for a Social Security Card.  This document is available for deceased persons through the Freedom of Information Act.  I’ve put off ordering one until now, because it’s a more-expensive document – $27 if you provide the person’s social security number or $29 if you do not.  Ordering is an easy process and can be done online.  I placed my order on 6/12/10 and was told that I should receive a response within 20 business days.  The form arrived in the mail on 7/9/10 which was 19 business days later; they sent me two copies, which I thought was nice.

This document was not at all what I expected.  I don’t really know what I expected – something more old-fashioned, I think, since it originated in the 1930’s.  But this looks very much like today’s government documents and I’m sure that the current SS-5 application is very similar.

At first I was a little disappointed, as I envisioned the form asking for a work history, which it did not.  Upon further reflection, I’ve realized that it actually gave me several pieces of new information for my great-grandfather, Newton Coleman Ward.

So what did I learn?

His address at the time he filed (1939) was RFD #3, Chatsworth, GA.  This is significant for a couple of reasons.

  1. I didn’t have a specific address for him between 1930 (the last available census) and and 1974 (the year of his death).
  2. This narrows down the time that he and his family moved from Fannin County, Georgia to Murray County.  I knew that they moved soon after their son’s death and I fully expected to find them in Murray County when the 1940 census is released.  Their son, Worth, died July 9, 1939.  This form was completed December 12, 1939, so now I know that the family moved within months Worth’s death.

Newt was born in Newport, Georgia.  I knew he was born in Fannin County, but had never seen a specific city or town.  This is obviously secondary information, but still valuable, and I have no reason to disbelieve it.

He worked at the Cohutta Talc Company, which was based in Dalton, Georgia.  I actually knew this, because I have photos of him from the mine, but now I have documentation and I know when he started working there.  Well, approximately.  There is a stamp across the form obscuring that month – it says [unreadable]-8-1939.  However, he has clearly written Dec. 12, 1939 as the date he signed the form, so I think it is reasonable to assume that he started work on December 8.

All in all, I think this was worth $27.  However, I probably won’t order SS-5s very often, just because of the expense.

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