I love happy endings. ProQuest CSA recently sent this story about a user's success with the company's online obituaries database. Obviously, this story is a bit self-serving for ProQuest CSA, but there is another moral here, too: don't look in the same places where everyone else looks. When stumped, get creative and trying looking in places you had not thought of earlier.
The following is an unsolicited letter received by ProQuest CSA from Carol Anderson, Adult Services Librarian from the Leesburg (Florida) Public Library, about a record she helped one of her patrons find:
Dear ProQuest CSA,
Last week a woman asked for my help in locating her father's record in the Social Security Death Index. She knew very little about her father except that her parents divorced, and that then her father died while she was very young. After her mother's recent death, she found a letter to her mother from SSA about a benefits request related to her father and providing his Social Security Number and year of his death. Unfortunately, we were unable to locate him in the SSDI. Of course, I provided her with information for writing to the SSA for a copy of his original application, but first I tried ProQuest Obituaries.
Using ProQuest, we located her father's obituary in the 1954 Chicago Tribune. It actually named his mother, his three sisters with their married names, and his two daughters (my patron and her sister). It also gave the name of the cemetery where he is buried. She held the printout in her hands and cried, and before I knew it I was crying, too! With the information from that obituary, we were able to trace the family back through the census for 1930, 1920, 1910, and 1900 and determine that her father's family had emigrated from Bohemia in 1891.
My patron now has several avenues to follow to pursue her family research and may even be able to contact living family members - all thanks to ProQuest Obituaries!