Looking for next of kin, hit dead end. Need people sleuths.
May 5, 2011 3:47 PM   Subscribe

How can I use a name, a birth date, a town, a social security number and an approximate date of death (month/year) to find next of kin?

I'm playing amateur sleuth. I'm trying to track down the next of kin for someone who passed away in Hommonton, New Jersey in April 1977. I have an exact date of birth and a social security number, as well as the name from this person's birth certificate.

What am I missing? I've checked with NJ's vital records folks but can't order a death certificate until this person has been deceased for 40 years. I can't figure out where an obituary would be listed for someone in that area (the local newspapers don't seem to be much help here.) Is there another bureau, another resource, other places I could be checking with the information that I have?

I'm in Chicago and cannot physically travel to NJ, unfortunately.
posted by jeanmari to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Set up a free trial account with ancestry.com, then check their obituaries. Also do a general search with the person's name in their newspaper database.
posted by jgirl at 4:04 PM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

i think the first issue might be that you're searching in "hommonton", nj, which does not exist. perhaps try hammonton. the town hall may be able to give you information or possibly try a search of local cemeteries.
posted by ps_im_awesome at 4:24 PM on May 5, 2011

Best answer: Try searching for cemeteries in Hammonton and call them to see if they have any record of him. Failing that, you could try cemeteries somewhere else where you know the deceased had family ties, if they might have been buried elsewhere.

Furthermore, it looks like there's an exception to the 40 year rule if you don't need a certified copy of the death certificate, and you'd only need that if you planned to use it for legal or identity purposes. See this vital records page. You would need to provide the mother's maiden name and the father's name, but you might well have that already from the birth certificate. You'd also need the exact date of the death, not just month and year, which I'm not certain you have. But I bet you can get the exact death date from the Social Security Death Index. Anyway, it's worth trying to get the certificate if you can get this information.

You could try calling the Hammonton branch library to see if they have any thoughts on obituaries and other resources for you to try.

Do you have any idea what the deceased did for a living? Perhaps he had some connection to a professional or community organization of some kind that might have some information?
posted by zachlipton at 4:41 PM on May 5, 2011

Yep, just came here to say ancestry.com. It's very useful for this sort of thing.
posted by limeonaire at 5:09 PM on May 5, 2011

Have you tried Intelius? It accurately lists next of kin for my mother who passed away 15+ years ago. I imagine 34 years may be a bit of a stretch...

Next step, I would see what BlackBookOnline can do for you.
posted by hammerthyme at 5:38 PM on May 5, 2011

Totally Ancestry.com for this. Also check Find A Grave, on the chance that they might be locatable in a family plot, which would give you more leads to follow. Assuming it's Hammonton, NJ in Atlantic County, there are 83 cemeteries at least partially documented.
posted by mumkin at 7:07 PM on May 5, 2011

You should try to find a probate record, which, if you're lucky, will include a copy of the will. According to the NJ Dept of State, you can contact the Superior Court Public Information Center (if there was a will) or the county surrogate's office (if there wasn't).
posted by bokinney at 11:36 AM on May 6, 2011

Response by poster: I have a paid Ancestry.com account, but it isn't as helpful for finding people who are still alive, unfortunately. The vital records page, the SSI, and the library leads were great. Intelius and BlackBookOnline didn't have anything, nor did FindAGrave.

If anyone has research strategies, here are the holes I'm still trying to fill:

-Online obituaries for Hammonton, NJ (thanks for the correction on the name of the town) in April 1977
-Online obituaries for Richmond Hill, NY in 1968
-How to figure out next of kin in NYC/NJ when you a) aren't the next of kin and b) when 50 years hasn't passed since the date of death (which is when the records become historical in NY or NJ. Otherwise, only certain parties can request records.)
-Directories of addresses and people living at those addresses for Hammonton, NJ in the 1970's or Richmond Hill in the 1950's-1960's
-Other sources of information that would list everyone living in the house in the 1950's through 1970's in NY and NJ

posted by jeanmari at 2:33 PM on May 6, 2011

I grew up in Richmond Hill, NY. The most popular newspaper in the area in 1968 was The Long Island Press. It went out of business in 1977 according to Wikipedia but it is available on microfilm in the Long Island Division of the Queens Library and at the Levittown Public Library in Nassau County. Perhaps a kind-hearted Librarian could help?
posted by islandeady at 10:49 PM on May 28, 2011

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