Weekly Planner: Create a Search “Cheat Sheet”

When we’re searching databases for those hard-to-find ancestors, we often find ourselves rotating in any number of variations for that surname, and it’s easy to lose track. Create a list of surname variations, along with the Soundex codes for each. Keep the list handy by your computer and then just go down the list to get a more complete search than just entering names at random. It serves as a reminder so you don’t miss anything and also makes it easier to log what names and variations you’ve searched for.

11 thoughts on “Weekly Planner: Create a Search “Cheat Sheet”

  1. This idea seems taken from something that would have been used 10+ years ago. The suggestion about Soundex codes has no place on Ancestry. It does if you are taking those names and variations to a library and looking in census indexes there (the Soundex codes don’t apply to any other kind of index–you simply have to plow through all the names in those)–but why would you, with Ancestry available?

  2. Actually the soundex idea is still useful in this age of ancestry indexes too. If I’m searching for a name, and there are 12 variations in the spelling, and 11 of those have the same soundex code, I can type in ONE of them to get all the results that would include those 11 names, and then just have to type in the other name that has a different soundex code. That way I’m typing in TWO searches instead of TWELVE searches. If I didn’t use this method, I would probably get results for the eleven names, but might miss the 12th.

  3. In practice, I don’t use Soundex at all any more – but in theory it can be useful.

    My experience with a one name census survey of my surname showed that very few of the spelling variations used in the census index (due to enumerator spelling or bad handwriting, or indexer/transcriber error) ended up with the same Soundex code. I only found most of the surname variations by searching for given names in a known place – for example: if I had 1850, 1860 and 1880 census data for a family in the same locality, but was missing 1870, I searched for them in that locality by given name (of any family member) and some times using no name (using age, birthplace, etc).

    Most of the erroneous Seaver entries were due to misreading the enumerator’s handwriting: Leaver, Seaner, Searer, Seaven, Seaves, Scaver, Slaver, Scover, Seriver, etc.

    There were some “how did they mangle Seaver that way” entries too – it was the right family, but the name was completely wrong. Stevens, Deaver come to mind, as I recall – perhaps the enumerator heard it wrong or got it from a neighbor.

    I finally decided to map out the surname by looking carefully at each script letter in the name and finding “look-alike” letters or “sound-alike” letters to come up with the variations.

  4. Dear Too Bad — RE your posting on 25 April @ 12:16 AM, I most heartily agree. I don’t know whose idea it was to go from the Daily Newsletter to this once a week Newsletter (with the blog), but they should have consulted their readership before making such a drastic change. I also agree ancestry.com’s commitment to keeping us informed has evaporated. What was wrong with the Daily Newsletter that had to be “fixed” by making it an inferior weekly?

  5. I agree with above. Isn’t it wonderful how Ancestry is downsizing? What are we paying for-getting less for our money? What happened to the world of competion?
    Thats why I’m searching for better genealogy programs.

  6. I like the new format! Less stuff to sort thru & if something catches your eye, then go off to look at it. Not slide on down till it’s over with if you don’t want to read it. Very efficient !! Easier on the old eyes for sure !!

  7. I agree with Judy; I like this new format! I can go through the items when I feel like it, not when it hits my crowded inbox. Some of the pieces are quite good, others a little provocative. Others dull and easy to skip over. The pictures, though charming to glance at I could do without.

    I just wish there were more comments by readers and that it was easier to find new comments on old pieces. Now one has to trawl around too much, not really worth it.

  8. I am amazed how “Far OFF ” the soundex is NOW – - about a year & half ago, it was MUCH better !!
    - – Plus : I understand reading – viewing the census is not easy work … but, how about taking another second to REALLY look at the name (s) !!
    - – I also miss the daily newsletter :: WHY, all this blog ‘area’ ?… another place to ‘click’ to ….: ITs the thing to do – - come on, we’re researchers, not ‘nothing else to do, but click ‘… Thanks.

  9. For the most part, I do not like the new format. I thought I would give a chance before I made comments. Now that some time has passed, Ancestry should take a poll of its’ subscribers on what they like about the previous format and the current and come up with a format that is the best of what they have offered. I do like the blog idea for the tips area. The rest leaves alot to be desired.

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