Monday, February 5, 2007 vs. databases

You would think that the indexes and data on and would be identical. You would be wrong, of ocurse!

For example:

I've been searching for data on Joseph Carr, who died 20 July 1987 in San Diego County for a correspondent. She knows that he is buried at La Vista Cemetery in National City. I went searching at Rootsweb for a death record in the California Death Index, and found him easily searching for GivenName="joseph" Surname="carr" and DeathDate="1987". Joseph was in the index. From that I found out that his birth date was 8 October 1920 in Texas, that his mother's maiden name was Matthews, he died in San Diego County, and his Social Security number was 457-22-6707.

I also checked the Social Security Death Index at Rootsweb. I input FirstName="joseph" LastName="carr" and DeathDate="1987" and got 8 hits, including one for Joseph. I learned that Joseph was born 8 October 1920, died Jul 1987 in CA, SS card issued in Texas, last benefits to San Diego CA 92113, and SSN = 457-22-6797. Hmmm - the SSN is different by one digit in the 8th number.

So I went to to see if the data was the same there. In the California Death Index on ancestry, I input GivenName="joseph" Surname+"carr" and DeathDate="1987". One match, but not the one I'm searching for. I used wild cards of "jos*" "car*" "1987" and got 38 matches, but not mine. I tried "joe*" "carr" "1987" and got 6 matches, but not mine. I input "carr" and "1987" and got 96 matches but not mine. I input the SSN = "457226797" and "457226707" and got no matches. Strange!

Finally, I searched the SSDI on and found him easily using the "joseph" "carr" "1987" criteria and the results were identical to the Rootsweb SSDI data.

So there are two anomalies uncovered here:

1) The Rootsweb CA Death Index finds Joseph Carr easily, but the Ancestry CA Death Index does not find him, even with an SSN-only search. I wonder why?

2) The SSN reported in the CA Death Index and SSDI are different - obviously an error in one of the entries. Which one should I use? Probably the SSDI number, since they MUST know what SSN he had!


Drew Smith said...

Randy, now that is definitely an interesting discovery! The California Death Records database on RootsWeb claims to have 9,366,786 records. The Ancestry database doesn't state how many records it has, but a search for females (with no other data) shows 3,812,744 records, and for males, 4,382,040, for a total of 8,194,784 records. This means that the RootsWeb version has more than 1 million more records than the Ancestry version.

OK, I'm going to ask someone at Ancestry what's going on.


Steve said...

Randy, I searched for Joseph Carr at to see if his death was listed there. Using the 1940-2000 California Death Index Summary, I found Joseph with the SSN 457-22-6707 and other data that matches the data you found in the California Death Index on Rootsweb, so the version of the database seems to be the lone man out.

Donna said...

Randy, you and your readers may be interested in knowing that even if your ancestor had a SS# they might not show up in the database. I don't know why. I have a copy of my great-grandfather's SS-5 application that clearly shows the number, and it is duplicated on his death certificate. But, he is not in the Rootsweb db. I thought it was because he died in 1944, which is relatively soon after SS started. But there are plenty of other deaths that early that are listed. Bottom line - just because you can find someone in the database does not mean they didn't apply for a Social Security card!