Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ben needs help, can you suggest a solution?

I had a phone call from Ben the other day, and met him today at the library.  Here is Ben's situation:

*  Ben needs to get California identification (driver's license).  He has an expired New Mexico driver's license.  He has a Social Security card.  In order to obtain the California driver's license, he apparently needs a birth certificate with his birth date, birth place, and parents names. 

*  Ben was born in Clark County, Nevada.  He has tried several times to obtain his own birth certificate by mail from Clark County.  They require his birth date, his birth place, his father's name, and his mother's maiden name.  They took his payment once, and have rejected his application for a birth certificate because he did not have the correct mother's maiden name. 

*  Ben has two brothers, both deceased.  One was born in Arizona, and died in Oregon, the other's birth place was Nevada but his death place is unknown.

*  His mother is deceased.  He thinks that she died in Iowa in the 1980s.  He received information from Social Security about his mother's maiden name, and there were six variations on it in the Social Security records.

*  His mother was born in New Mexico, and Ben knows the birth date and birth place.  He thought that obtaining a New Mexico birth certificate for his mother would help him solve his own birth certificate problem.  He knows about one brother of his mother, knows where he died (California) but doesn't know when he died. 

How can Ben obtain information that might help him find his mother's maiden name?  I've thought of:

*  Ben's own Social Security Application.  Ben could obtain this himself, I think, for a fee.

*  His brothers' birth certificates in Nevada and Arizona.  How can these be obtained?

*  His mother's birth certificate in 1931 in New Mexico.  How can this be obtained?

*  His mother's Social Security Application (I found the number in the SSDI).

*  His mother's death record (1987 in Ohio according to SSDI last residence).

*  His mother's marriage certificates (not sure how many, or where... perhaps New Mexico or Arizona).

* His uncle's death record or death certificate in California.

What advice do you have to obtain those records?  I recommended going through to order his own death birth certificate since the form there doesn't seem to require the mother's maiden name.   If you can help in one of those states (Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon), please email me  Thanks!

Updated 4 August: fixed last paragraph...I need a copy editor, I guess.

To clarify:  Ben told me his mother died in Iowa, but SSDI said Ohio (the town name Ben told me and the last residence are identical - I think Ben told me the wrong state).


Lynn Palermo said...

Sorry, being a Canadian I would be of no help to you, but I am intrigued, let us know how it works out. Good Luck.

Chris Staats said...

Randy, if you (or Ben himself) check Ancestry's Ohio Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-1944 It will (should) list the deceased's maiden name and would be faster than waiting for a certificate.

Other than that, your suggestions seem accurate, although I don't know the first thing about accessibility in those states. I also took a look at the CA DMV site, and there are some alternative documents: the list is here

Carol said...

Every state has its own rules, and requirements should always be checked, but, for the most part, birth certificates are not available unless you can prove you are the person, a parent of the person, or a descendant of the person and can prove that the person is dead, all those kinds of rules. The rules are enforced even more since 9/11/2001.

One could always try for a brother's birth certificate, but, I am not sure how that would help Ben get his driver's license, it won't prove his relationship to the brother without the mother's birth and death certificates, etc. Of course, it may, or may not, give his mother's maiden name correctly.

I am more than confused about the mother's death, first you say, Ben thinks she died in Iowa in the 1980's, then you say you found on the SSDI in Ohio in 1987. First thing, get that death certificate, no matter where she died. You need it to get her maiden name, maybe, hopefully, and/or you may need it to get her birth certificate.

I take it searches of GenealogyBank and other newspaper online data bases have not turned up an obituary for any of these people? Look for survivors and where they lived, follow up each survivor, they might have something to help you with.

You can order her Soc Sec app online, the last time I did some they came pretty quick, well, 3 out of 4 did! LOL

Double check for mom's marriages on

To me this situation is no different than any of our research, start from 2011 and work to 1900. Gather the death certs first, then go for obits, marriages, and then births.

Good luck Ben.

Anonymous said...

I also think you should attempt to locate an obituary for Ben's mother. I may give you the information you need as well as other family members if you need them.

Sharon said...

Joe Beine has two excellent up-to-date sites that have information on birth and death records:


MerRhosyn said...

Unless I'm mistaken, VitalCheck will require an unexpired form of photo ID like a valid driver's license or passport. If this is the case, that might pose problems.

MerRhosyn said...

Also, I don't know if you ever browse the FindAGrave forums, but there are some great troubleshooters and obituary finders there. Outlining the problem statement w/ relevant names and dates may prove very useful.