Easy birth and death dates?
November 10, 2009 11:57 AM   Subscribe

Is there a simple, free way of searching the birth and death dates of a wide variety of people?

I'm editing an encyclopedia that has a mix of entries for historical figures (the venerable bede) and people alive today (jeff belanger, a writer/journalist who studies "the unexplained"). Only half the entries have birth and death dates, probably because the author wasn't able to locate a lot of them. What I'm looking for is a fairly quick way of finding this info--doesn't have to be just one source, but I want to come up with a reasonable methodology or checklist for per-person searching.

Suggestions for search engines/web sites/library books/etc. I can try?
posted by prior to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
If in the USA and within the last 100 years or so, then the Social Security Death Index would help.
posted by meadowlark lime at 12:01 PM on November 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also familysearch.org is a good site for people that have been dead for a while (it covers public records such as census, various indexes, and some death certificates).
posted by cinemafiend at 12:20 PM on November 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Since the people you are looking for have achieved some level of fame, I would suggest using wikipedia. There are even those nice little summary boxes on the sides of the entries, including birth and death (where applicable) dates. See Bede and Jeff Belanger entries, for example.
posted by freezer cake at 1:40 PM on November 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Another source for a broad swath of people is the Political Graveyard.
posted by yclipse at 1:45 PM on November 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

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