I am trying to locate information on my maternal grandmother Kathryn Connelly Chalmers Hearst for who I have this timeline:

  • born in Hennepin, Minneapolis, MN ON 3/27/1898 as Kathryn Eileen Connelly
  • My mother was born in 1926 and was told Kathryn had died in 1932.
  • No info known from 1931-1936 when she was re-admitted to Mendicino.
  • I have received a transfer notation and patient number from Mendicino State Hospital to Camarillo in 1943 as Kathryn Chalmers. I am in the process of requesting docs from the state of CA through the records center at Norwalk.
  • I once saw a letter indicating land ownership in Utah, dated sometime in the 1940's.
  • No info known from 1943 until her death.
  • died as Kathryn C. Hearst on 3/7/1988 in El Monte, CA (91738). I have found her SSN Death Certificate.

Until documents recently uncovered, I grew up believing she died in 1932. I am now 65 and would like to find other family of hers.

I am looking for anything after her discharge from Camarillo State Hospital in CA.(date unknown).

  • 1
    Hi, Pamela, welcome to G&FH.SE! We encourage all users to take the tour and review the material in the help center; you can find the links under help in the top nav bar. Note that for privacy reasons, we cannot help with finding identifiable living individuals, so we can only answer questions about finding other family in general terms. See genealogy.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic Can you tell us what documents you have already?
    – Jan Murphy
    Mar 29, 2017 at 21:48
  • 1
    You might find this related question of interest. genealogy.stackexchange.com/q/9545/1006
    – Jan Murphy
    Mar 29, 2017 at 21:48
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    I have found her SSN Death Certificate. I have received a transfer notation and patient number from Mendicino State Hospital to Camarillo in 1943 as Kathryn Chalmers. I am in the process of requesting docs from the state of CA through the records center @ Norwalk. I once saw a letter indicating land ownership in Utah, dated sometime in the 1940's. She died in El Monte, CA (91732) in the name of Kathryn C. Hearst. No info known from 1931-1936 when she was re-admitted to Mendicino. No info known from 1943 until her death. My mother was born in 1926 and was told she had died in 1932. Apr 1, 2017 at 0:43
  • 1
    Thanks for the update! If you don't feel comfortable editing with Markdown yet, we can add this information to your question. (To edit, use the edit link under your question.) Letting us know what you have is helpful -- that way we don't annoy you by suggesting that you look for things you already have.
    – Jan Murphy
    Apr 1, 2017 at 0:48
  • 1
    You said that there is a letter indicating that she might have owned land in Utah in the 1940s? That's an obvious choice for a separate question here. The Stack Exchange philosophy is to write focused, specific questions -- it's okay to write more than one question about the same person or family, and to link back to your previous questions.
    – Jan Murphy
    Apr 1, 2017 at 2:24

1 Answer 1


This may be tough because you may run up against privacy restrictions, but here are some things that I would try.

Start with a timeline, a plan, a source checklist, and a research log

This may sound stupid, but start by making a list of all the documents you have. Take all the information you have and put it in a timeline, in chronological order -- and make notes about where the information came from.

I'm not going to insist that you write a formal style source citation as you might for publication, but it is helpful to write things down just to get them organized and to review everything. Making a chronological timeline alerts you to research opportunities that you may have missed (holes in the timeline). Pay attention to the three elements that Jessica Hopkins, an archivist at the National Archives at Kansas City, calls the "three-legged stool":

  • Name -- Make a list of all known variants of her name. Include any variants that you find because names were mis-indexed or because of OCR errors and search for those "mistake" names, too.
  • Date -- Pay attention to the scope and content of record groups / collections / databases to see whether the collection has the coverage you need. This is especially crucial in newspaper research because most websites don't have continuous coverage -- often there are missing issues and gaps in the collections.
  • Place -- Be sure to search all known jurisdictions. For civil records, that might mean federal, state, county, town. For church records -- that could mean a local church, a diocese, a nation-wide archive belonging to that denomination.

Be aware that records often become archival and then, as the schedule allows, they become released to the public, by means of a schedule called a rolling window. For example, the US Federal Census is closed for 72 years after it is taken. The release of the 1950 Census is still 5 years away (release date is April 1st, 2022).

Document where you search, how you searched, and what you looked for as you go along, including negative search results (negative findings). The FamilySearch Wiki article Research Logs and the FamilySearch Learning Center Classes by G. David Dilts on Research Logs -- part 1, part 2, and Class Handout have a lot of useful advice. Think of your Research Log as your records wishlist and fill out what you want to look for before you begin to search. The articles Document as you go and Keeping a Research Log show how it's easier to keep on track and not miss things if you write things down as you go along.

Use whatever works for you -- a paper notebook, a document in a word processor, a spreadsheet, printed research log sheets, Evernote, or other software like Literature and Latte's writing studio software Scrivener -- whichever you choose, you want to write things down so when you stop researching, you can come back to it later and pick back up where you left off.

Some strategies you could try to find more information are below.

Investigate the Social Security Number

You may not be able to get much useful information from having her SSN, except as a confirmation that you have her records (and not someone else's) when you find other records that might have used her SSN as an identifier. See my answer to the question What uses are there for the Social Security Number (SSN) of a deceased ancestor?

But you could try searching the Social Security Death Index at different sites to compare the information you get from each site. See What fields are available from a Social Security Death Index (SSDI) search at different websites? Look at the field called "Last Residence" or "Last Benefit" -- these could be clues to where she lived late in life, or where someone received a survivor's benefit after she died.

You could also try looking for her in the NUMIDENT files at the US National Archives (NARA)'s Access to Archival Database (AAD), to see if you can find any information about claims or benefits she applied for -- if she falls within the scope of the database. Numerical Identification Files (NUMIDENT)

The AAD website says:

This series contains data from the Social Security Administration's Numerical Identification Files (NUMIDENT). The Death Files contain nearly 50 million records of individuals with a social security number with a verified death or who would have been over 110 years old by December 31, 2007. The records include information such as name, social security number, birth date, and death date.

Some cautions: I have had partial success searching these files by the Social Security number itself.

John LeGloahec's presentation “Death Records from the Numerical Identification System” for Genealogical Research (2017 March 23) gives an overview of the database and some of the problems in it. He advised users to search for people both in the alphabetical file which would hold their surname AND in the final file (Last names U through Z and non-alphabetic) because some entries have a typographical errors. The handout links for this presentation:

Watch out for an entry in the "Other number" field, which in some rare cases links the SSN to that of a spouse.

Look for obituaries

Obituaries sometimes give names of survivors along with their residences. These websites can help you find historical newspapers online:

What other records might have residence information?

When you're drawing a complete blank about what to look for, use a checklist or another prompt for record selection:

Descendancy Research

It is not site policy to answer questions about finding living relatives, but here are some links that might help.

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