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The Database of the Dead

Are you in it?

The Database of the Dead

Are you in it?

August 13, 2015

The Social Security Administration maintains a database containing a record of every U.S. citizen who has died since 1936. What could possibly go wrong? In “The Final File,” contributing editor Paul Ford discusses a few problems with what the government lovingly refers to as the Social Security Death Master File. Explore it for yourself.

To get started, choose a first and last name

What's Trending?

Here's how many people were born and died with this name over time.

How many times has a name died?

Total deaths: 265

First Last Date of Death Age
PAULFORD2013-05-28 71
PAULFORD2013-03-29 83
PAULFORD2013-02-15 71
PAULFORD2013-01-31 59
PAULFORD2012-12-01 61
PAULFORD2012-10-28 78
PAULFORD2012-06-13 88
PAULFORD2011-12-25 88
PAULFORD2011-12-24 82
PAULFORD2011-12-12 84

Only the ten most recent deaths with that name are shown.


How long does a name live?

Find out the average lifespan of people with these names.

First Name Age Last Name Age
Paul 69 Ford 71

Is death really just a popularity contest?

Ever wonder how your name stacks up against the most fashionable monikers of the deceased?

Rank Name Total Deaths
1st James Smith 20,836
2nd William Smith 20,532
3rd Mary Smith 18,923

Interactive by Jorge Lopez, Matt Unhjem, and Silas Burton.