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Twenty ways to find an elusive name including using competing indexes, initials, abbreviations, middle names, nicknames, IGI standardized names, translations, letter substitutes, finding relatives, and searching the record without an index.
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[[How to Guess Where to Start|How to Guess Where to Start]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] [[Guessing_a_Name_Variation|Guessing a Name Variation]] <br>
  
:Just because an ancestor always spelled his name the same way, that does '''NOT GUARANTEE''' it was always spelled that way by a clerk or by an indexer. If your first search fails to find an ancestor, consider the possibility the name is spelled differently than you expect. In fact, experienced genealogists worry their skills are slipping if they are not finding several documents with unexpected spellings of the name.
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[[Image:Question Dice.jpg|thumb|right|Question Dice.jpg]]Twenty ways to find an elusive name including using competing indexes, initials, abbreviations, middle names, nicknames, IGI standardized names, translations, letter substitutes, finding relatives, and searching the record without an index. <br><br>
:Be prepared to hunt for elusive ancestors in a variety of ways and under a variety of name spellings.
+
  
==20 ways to find an elusive name.==
+
Just because an ancestor always spelled his name the same way, that does '''NOT GUARANTEE''' it was always spelled that way by a clerk or by an indexer. If your first search fails to find an ancestor, consider the possibility the name is spelled differently than you expect. In fact, experienced genealogists worry their skills are slipping if they are not finding several documents with unexpected spellings of the name. <br>
  
Here are some steps to help find names that seem to be missing from an index (or record):
+
Be prepared to hunt for elusive ancestors in a variety of ways and under a variety of name spellings.
  
===Competing indexes.===
+
== 20 ways to find an elusive name. ==
Look for the elusive name in a competing index by another company, if one is available. For example, many United States federal censuses have more than one index. A list of online U.S. census indexes is on the Internet at [http://www.warnes.net/Teslacorp/GenealogyLinks/index_html?Tab=4-US%20Census Census Genealogy Links]
+
  
===Neighboring entries===
+
Here are some steps to help find names that seem to be missing from an index (or record):<ref>This List has been modified from G. David Dilts, “Guidelines for Finding Misplaced Names in Census Indexes” in the “Censuses and Tax Lists” chapter of Kory L. Meyerink, [http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/38206986referer=brief_results ''Printed Sources: A Guide to Publish Genealogical Records''] (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1998), 339. [FHL Book 016.9293 P96m].</ref>
in book indexes. Find the place in a book index where the name should be, and search at least one index page preceding and one index page following that place for similar names. Look for slightly different spellings of the name.
+
  
===Initials or abbreviations.===
+
=== Competing indexes. ===
Look for the surname with the given or middle names as initials or [[Abbreviations Lists for Personal Names (English)|abbreviations]]. For example, look for the name Green, James William, under such variations as Green, J; Green, J. W.; Green, Jas W.: Green Jas. Wm.; or Green, James W.
+
  
===Middle name.===
+
Look for the elusive name in a competing index by another company, if one is available. For example, many United States federal censuses have more than one index. A list of online U.S. census indexes is on the Internet at [https://familysearch.org/techtips/2012/05/online-united-state-census-records On Line United States Census Records]
Look for the middle instead of the given name. For example, instead of the name Walker, George Herbert, try Walker, Herbert.
+
  
===Nicknames.===
+
=== Neighboring entries  ===
Look for the ancestor by any known or guessed nickname. For example, look for William under Bill. For ideas see [[Traditional Nicknames in Old Documents - A Wiki List|''Traditional Nicknames in Old Documents – A Wiki List'']].
+
  
=== Soundex vs. exact spelling search. ===
+
in book indexes. Find the place in a book index where the name should be, and search at least one index page preceding and one index page following that place for similar names. Look for slightly different spellings of the name.  
  
Some computer indexes such as Ancestry.com allow a [[Soundex|Soundex]] spelling search. Switch to this option to find names with similar but slightly different spellings.
+
=== Initials or abbreviations. ===
  
===Surname only search===
+
Look for the surname with the given or middle names as initials or [[Abbreviations Lists for Personal Names (English)|abbreviations]]. For example, look for the name Green, James William, under such variations as Green, J; Green, J. W.; Green, Jas W.: Green Jas. Wm.; or Green, James W.  
in computer indexes. Sometimes it pays to search for the family surname in a specified state or county without a given name. Browse through the results list looking for your ancestor with an unexpected given name variation. Pay special attention to the shape of the name if letters are above or below the line but indexed incorrectly. For example, a capital B and R or lower case g and y could be misread. See the misread names chart below.
+
  
===Given name only search===
+
=== Middle name===
in computer indexes. In a specified state or county, search for your ancestor’s given name without a surname. Browse through the results list looking for your ancestor with an unexpected surname variation.
+
  
===Unusual occupation search.===
+
Look for the middle instead of the given name. For example, instead of the name Walker, George Herbert, try Walker, Herbert.  
A few computer indexes (usually CDs) allow a search for occupations. If a hard-to-find ancestor has an unusual occupation, search the index for the occupation without a surname or given name. Browse through the results list for your ancestor.
+
  
===International Genealogical Index (IGI) standardized surnames.===
+
=== Nicknames. ===
Look for your ancestor in the [http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Search/frameset_search.asp?PAGE=igi/search_IGI.asp&clear_form=true International Genealogical Index]. Notice the various "standardized" surname spellings grouped with your ancestor's surname to learn possible variations to use in '''''other''''' indexes and records.
+
  
===Translated immigrant surname.===
+
Look for the ancestor by any known or guessed nickname. For example, look for William under Bill. For ideas see [[Traditional Nicknames in Old Documents - A Wiki List|''Traditional Nicknames in Old Documents – A Wiki List'']].  
Some immigrants translate their surname into English. For example, ''Schneider'' means ''Tailor''. If your ancestor was born in a foreign-language speaking nation, look for him under '''''both''''' the English and foreign-language version of the surname. Use dictionaries (such as German-English) to find possible name translations. For lists of such dictionaries use the [http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=subjecthitlist&columns=*,0,0&subject=language&presubject=language Family History Library Catalog '''Subject Search''' for "language]."
+
  
===Translated immigrant given name.===
+
=== Soundex vs. exact spelling search. ===
Look for '''''both''''' foreign language and English versions of given names, for example, ''Andrew''&nbsp;<nowiki>=</nowiki> ''Andreas''. Get help from the given name dictionary in 25 languages: Wanda Janowowa, et. al.,''[http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titledetails&titleno=103656&disp=Słownik+imion&columns=*,0,0 Słownik Imion]'' (Wrocław [Poland]: Narodowy Imienia Ossolińskich Wydawnictwo, 1975.) [FHL INTL Reference 940 D4si; Fiche 6000839]
+
  
===Vowels.===
+
Some computer indexes such as Ancestry.com allow a [[Soundex|Soundex]] spelling search. Switch to this option to find names with similar but slightly different spellings.  
Look for the name spelled with different vowels. For example, look for GILLESPIE under GALLESPIE.
+
  
===Double letters.===
+
=== Surname only search  ===
Search the index for the name with double letters added or deleted. For example, for the name FULLER, try FULER. For the name BAKER, try BAKKER.
+
  
===Transposed Letters.===
+
in computer indexes. Sometimes it pays to search for the family surname in a specified state or county without a given name. Browse through the results list looking for your ancestor with an unexpected given name variation. Pay special attention to the shape of the name if letters are above or below the line but indexed incorrectly. For example, a capital B and R or lower case g and y could be misread. See the misread names chart below.  
Look for the elusive name under spellings with each of the first four letters transposed. For example, look for WIGHT under IWGHT, WGIHT, WIHGT, AND WIGTH.
+
  
===Misread letters.===
+
=== Given name only search  ===
Use the [[Spelling Substitution Tables for the United States and Canada|''Commonly Misread Letters Table'']] to find letters which were possibly substituted in the spelling of the name. Using this table, the name CARTER might be under GARTER, EARTER, OARTER, CEARTER, CEIRTER, CAETER, CASTER and so forth.
+
  
===Phonetic substitutes.===
+
in computer indexes. In a specified state or county, search for your ancestor’s given name without a surname. Browse through the results list looking for your ancestor with an unexpected surname variation.  
Use the [[Spelling Substitution Tables for the United States and Canada|''Phonetic Substitutes Table'']] to find ways the name may have been misspelled using letters which sound similar. Using the table, RADCLIFFE might be searched for under RHADCLIFFE, RATCLIFFE, RADDCLIFFE, RADKLIFFE, RADGLIFFE, RADCLIVE, or RADCLIPHE.
+
  
===First letter===
+
=== Unusual occupation search.  ===
in book indexes. Look at all the surnames that begin with the same letter as the name you seek. For example, if you cannot find the surname KELLY, scan all the surnames that begin with "K" for garbled or misplaced spellings of Kelly.
+
  
===Relatives and neighbors.===
+
A few computer indexes (usually CDs) allow a search for occupations. If a hard-to-find ancestor has an unusual occupation, search the index for the occupation without a surname or given name. Browse through the results list for your ancestor.  
Look for the names of parents, children, brothers or sisters, uncles, aunts, or neighbors in the index. If you find relatives or neighbors in the index, look at the original record to see if the ancestor you want is nearby in the record.
+
  
===Original record.===
+
=== International Genealogical Index (IGI) standardized surnames.  ===
If an ancestor is not found in an index where you expect, search the original record anyway. If searching a census or land record, look at every name in the county, and if necessary, neighboring counties to find the ancestor.
+
 
 +
Look for your ancestor in the[https://familysearch.org/search/collection/list International Genealogical Index]. Notice the various "standardized" surname spellings grouped with your ancestor's surname to learn possible variations to use in '''''other''''' indexes and records.
 +
 
 +
=== Translated immigrant surname.  ===
 +
 
 +
Some immigrants translate their surname into English. For example, ''Schneider'' means ''Tailor''. If your ancestor was born in a foreign-language speaking nation, look for him under '''''both''''' the English and foreign-language version of the surname. Use dictionaries (such as German-English) to find possible name translations. For lists of such dictionaries use the [https://www.familysearch.org/#form=catalog&catSearchType=subject Family History Library Catalog '''Subject Search''' for "language]."
 +
 
 +
=== Translated immigrant given name.  ===
 +
 
 +
Look for '''''both''''' foreign language and English versions of given names, for example, ''Andrew''&nbsp;<nowiki>=</nowiki> ''Andreas''. Get help from the given name dictionary in 25 languages: Wanda Janowowa, et. al.,''[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/2376925&referer=brief_results Słownik Imion]'' (Wrocław [Poland]: Narodowy Imienia Ossolińskich Wydawnictwo, 1975.) [FHL INTL Reference 940 D4si; Fiche 6000839]
 +
 
 +
=== Vowels.  ===
 +
 
 +
Look for the name spelled with different vowels. For example, look for GILLESPIE under GALLESPIE.
 +
 
 +
=== Double letters.  ===
 +
 
 +
Search the index for the name with double letters added or deleted. For example, for the name FULLER, try FULER. For the name BAKER, try BAKKER.
 +
 
 +
=== Transposed Letters.  ===
 +
 
 +
Look for the elusive name under spellings with each of the first four letters transposed. For example, look for WIGHT under IWGHT, WGIHT, WIHGT, AND WIGTH.
 +
 
 +
=== Misread letters.  ===
 +
 
 +
Use the [[Spelling Substitution Tables for the United States and Canada|''Commonly Misread Letters Table'']]<ref>Spelling Substitution Tables for the United States and Canada</ref> to find letters which were possibly substituted in the spelling of the name. Using this table, the name CARTER might be under GARTER, EARTER, OARTER, CEARTER, CEIRTER, CAETER, CASTER and so forth.
 +
 
 +
=== Phonetic substitutes.  ===
 +
 
 +
Use the [[Spelling Substitution Tables for the United States and Canada#Phonetic_Substitutes_Table|''Phonetic Substitutes Table'']]<ref>Spelling Substitution Tables for the United States and Canada</ref> to find ways the name may have been misspelled using letters which sound similar. Using the table, RADCLIFFE might be searched for under RHADCLIFFE, RATCLIFFE, RADDCLIFFE, RADKLIFFE, RADGLIFFE, RADCLIVE, or RADCLIPHE.
 +
 
 +
=== First letter  ===
 +
 
 +
in book indexes. Look at all the surnames that begin with the same letter as the name you seek. For example, if you cannot find the surname KELLY, scan all the surnames that begin with "K" for garbled or misplaced spellings of Kelly.
 +
 
 +
=== Relatives and neighbors.  ===
 +
 
 +
Look for the names of parents, children, brothers or sisters, uncles, aunts, or neighbors in the index. If you find relatives or neighbors in the index, look at the original record to see if the ancestor you want is nearby in the record.
 +
 
 +
=== Original record. ===
 +
 
 +
If an ancestor is not found in an index where you expect, search the original record anyway. If searching a census or land record, look at every name in the county, and if necessary, neighboring counties to find the ancestor.  
 +
 
 +
== Related Internet Site  ==
  
==Related Internet Site==
 
 
*[http://www.rootsweb.com/~rwguide/lesson8.htm Why U Can't Find Your Ancestor]
 
*[http://www.rootsweb.com/~rwguide/lesson8.htm Why U Can't Find Your Ancestor]
  
==Related Content==
+
== Related Content ==
[[How to Guess Where to Start|How to Guess Where to Start]]
+
 
 +
[[How to Guess Where to Start|How to Guess Where to Start]]
 +
 
 +
[[Abbreviations Lists for Personal Names (English)]]
 +
 
 +
[[Name Variations in United States Indexes and Records|Name Variations in United States Indexes and Records]]
 +
 
 +
[[Traditional Nicknames in Old Documents - A Wiki List|Traditional Nicknames in Old Documents – A Wiki List]]  
  
[[Abbreviations Lists for Personal Names (English)]]
+
[[Spelling Substitution Tables for the United States and Canada|Spelling Substitution Tables for the United States and Canada]]  
  
[[Name Variations in United States Indexes and Records|Name Variations in United States Indexes and Records]]
+
[[Rookie Mistakes|Rookie Mistakes]]  
  
[[Traditional Nicknames in Old Documents - A Wiki List|Traditional Nicknames in Old Documents – A Wiki List]]
+
[[Spelling Substitution Tables for the United States and Canada|Spelling Substitution Tables for the United States and Canada]]  
  
[[Spelling Substitution Tables for the United States and Canada|Spelling Substitution Tables for the United States and Canada]]
+
== Sources  ==
  
[[Rookie Mistakes|Rookie Mistakes]]
+
{{reflist}}
  
[[Spelling Substitution Tables for the United States and Canada|Spelling Substitution Tables for the United States and Canada]]
+
<references /> {{featured article}}
  
==Endnote==
+
{{H-langs|en=Guessing a Name Variation|es=Diferentes versiones de un mismo nombre}}
This List has been modified from G. David Dilts, “Guidelines for Finding Misplaced Names in Census Indexes” in the “Censuses and Tax Lists” chapter of Kory L. Meyerink, [http://www.worldcat.org/search?q=printed+sources%3A+a+guide&qt=results_page ''Printed Sources: A Guide to Publish Genealogical Records''] (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1998), 339. [FHL Book 016.9293 P96m].
+
  
 
[[Category:Beginners]]
 
[[Category:Beginners]]

Latest revision as of 22:08, 22 November 2013

How to Guess Where to Start Gotoarrow.png Guessing a Name Variation

Question Dice.jpg
Twenty ways to find an elusive name including using competing indexes, initials, abbreviations, middle names, nicknames, IGI standardized names, translations, letter substitutes, finding relatives, and searching the record without an index.

Just because an ancestor always spelled his name the same way, that does NOT GUARANTEE it was always spelled that way by a clerk or by an indexer. If your first search fails to find an ancestor, consider the possibility the name is spelled differently than you expect. In fact, experienced genealogists worry their skills are slipping if they are not finding several documents with unexpected spellings of the name.

Be prepared to hunt for elusive ancestors in a variety of ways and under a variety of name spellings.

Contents

20 ways to find an elusive name.

Here are some steps to help find names that seem to be missing from an index (or record):[1]

Competing indexes.

Look for the elusive name in a competing index by another company, if one is available. For example, many United States federal censuses have more than one index. A list of online U.S. census indexes is on the Internet at On Line United States Census Records

Neighboring entries

in book indexes. Find the place in a book index where the name should be, and search at least one index page preceding and one index page following that place for similar names. Look for slightly different spellings of the name.

Initials or abbreviations.

Look for the surname with the given or middle names as initials or abbreviations. For example, look for the name Green, James William, under such variations as Green, J; Green, J. W.; Green, Jas W.: Green Jas. Wm.; or Green, James W.

Middle name.

Look for the middle instead of the given name. For example, instead of the name Walker, George Herbert, try Walker, Herbert.

Nicknames.

Look for the ancestor by any known or guessed nickname. For example, look for William under Bill. For ideas see Traditional Nicknames in Old Documents – A Wiki List.

Soundex vs. exact spelling search.

Some computer indexes such as Ancestry.com allow a Soundex spelling search. Switch to this option to find names with similar but slightly different spellings.

Surname only search

in computer indexes. Sometimes it pays to search for the family surname in a specified state or county without a given name. Browse through the results list looking for your ancestor with an unexpected given name variation. Pay special attention to the shape of the name if letters are above or below the line but indexed incorrectly. For example, a capital B and R or lower case g and y could be misread. See the misread names chart below.

Given name only search

in computer indexes. In a specified state or county, search for your ancestor’s given name without a surname. Browse through the results list looking for your ancestor with an unexpected surname variation.

Unusual occupation search.

A few computer indexes (usually CDs) allow a search for occupations. If a hard-to-find ancestor has an unusual occupation, search the index for the occupation without a surname or given name. Browse through the results list for your ancestor.

International Genealogical Index (IGI) standardized surnames.

Look for your ancestor in theInternational Genealogical Index. Notice the various "standardized" surname spellings grouped with your ancestor's surname to learn possible variations to use in other indexes and records.

Translated immigrant surname.

Some immigrants translate their surname into English. For example, Schneider means Tailor. If your ancestor was born in a foreign-language speaking nation, look for him under both the English and foreign-language version of the surname. Use dictionaries (such as German-English) to find possible name translations. For lists of such dictionaries use the Family History Library Catalog Subject Search for "language."

Translated immigrant given name.

Look for both foreign language and English versions of given names, for example, Andrew = Andreas. Get help from the given name dictionary in 25 languages: Wanda Janowowa, et. al.,Słownik Imion (Wrocław [Poland]: Narodowy Imienia Ossolińskich Wydawnictwo, 1975.) [FHL INTL Reference 940 D4si; Fiche 6000839]

Vowels.

Look for the name spelled with different vowels. For example, look for GILLESPIE under GALLESPIE.

Double letters.

Search the index for the name with double letters added or deleted. For example, for the name FULLER, try FULER. For the name BAKER, try BAKKER.

Transposed Letters.

Look for the elusive name under spellings with each of the first four letters transposed. For example, look for WIGHT under IWGHT, WGIHT, WIHGT, AND WIGTH.

Misread letters.

Use the Commonly Misread Letters Table[2] to find letters which were possibly substituted in the spelling of the name. Using this table, the name CARTER might be under GARTER, EARTER, OARTER, CEARTER, CEIRTER, CAETER, CASTER and so forth.

Phonetic substitutes.

Use the Phonetic Substitutes Table[3] to find ways the name may have been misspelled using letters which sound similar. Using the table, RADCLIFFE might be searched for under RHADCLIFFE, RATCLIFFE, RADDCLIFFE, RADKLIFFE, RADGLIFFE, RADCLIVE, or RADCLIPHE.

First letter

in book indexes. Look at all the surnames that begin with the same letter as the name you seek. For example, if you cannot find the surname KELLY, scan all the surnames that begin with "K" for garbled or misplaced spellings of Kelly.

Relatives and neighbors.

Look for the names of parents, children, brothers or sisters, uncles, aunts, or neighbors in the index. If you find relatives or neighbors in the index, look at the original record to see if the ancestor you want is nearby in the record.

Original record.

If an ancestor is not found in an index where you expect, search the original record anyway. If searching a census or land record, look at every name in the county, and if necessary, neighboring counties to find the ancestor.

Related Internet Site

Related Content

How to Guess Where to Start

Abbreviations Lists for Personal Names (English)

Name Variations in United States Indexes and Records

Traditional Nicknames in Old Documents – A Wiki List

Spelling Substitution Tables for the United States and Canada

Rookie Mistakes

Spelling Substitution Tables for the United States and Canada

Sources

  1. This List has been modified from G. David Dilts, “Guidelines for Finding Misplaced Names in Census Indexes” in the “Censuses and Tax Lists” chapter of Kory L. Meyerink, Printed Sources: A Guide to Publish Genealogical Records (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1998), 339. [FHL Book 016.9293 P96m].
  2. Spelling Substitution Tables for the United States and Canada
  3. Spelling Substitution Tables for the United States and Canada

 

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  • This page was last modified on 22 November 2013, at 22:08.
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