I recently made a microfilm trip to the Montclair Public Library in Montclair, Essex County, New Jersey with success. A potential match for the wife of a cousin showed up in the Social Security Death Index, which is available through various websites, some offering more detailed search criteria for an additional fee. The information was:
Name: Elsie Uhl
Last Residence: 07043 Montclair, Essex, New Jersey, United States of America
Born: 29 Jan 1903
Died: Dec 1978
State (Year) SSN issued: New York (Before 1951)
I did not know that this particular branch lived in Montclair, so I could not be sure that I had the right person without additional checking. I am close enough to Montclair to make the trip. In the past, I would have ordered a copy of the application for the number, which was cheap enough- under $10. A few years ago, the fee jumped to $27. Ancestry.com used to generate the letter of request for you; now the link to order the record does not seem to offer this option, but rather directs you to VitalCheck to order a birth, marriage, or death certificate. (If you are going to be researching your family history to any great extent, I recommend learning how to obtain vital records directly from the state of interest. For an occasional record, VitalCheck can save you hassle- for a small fee.) The days of showing up at town hall for a copy of the death certificate are over, as the death was too recent and I cannot prove direct lineage.
So I headed over to the main Montclair Library and requested microfilm for the Montclair Times for December 1978. The local paper is published once per week, so I did not have much to search. Elsie may have died on the 1st through the 31st, as the index does not report day of death until more recently. No obit. I had to request the next reel for 1979 and there it was. Elsie Uhl died 30 December 1978; the obit appeared in the 4 January 1979 paper. And she was indeed the wife of my cousin. It felt great to make the confirmation. From here, I would usually visit the cemetery, but none was listed with this obituary.
|The Montclair Times, 4 January 1979, page 4.|