Tuesday, August 9, 2011

We May Need a Little Space

I’m sure you already know how fluid spelling can be when doing genealogy research but sometimes we get in a rut and don’t realize how little changes in what we are searching for can make a big difference.

Those of you who attend the Waccamaw Neck Genealogy SIG will remember the day that our revered chairman was demonstrating how to search for his Isle of Man ancestors. One of our members was doing the typing and he was telling her the surname he wanted. Well, when you are used to doing the typing you know where the spaces go. The typist was not familiar with the surnames and did not know there wasn’t a space between some of the letters: so she put in a space and clicked “Search.”

Our chairman was stunned! There on the screen were ten of his long lost relatives; people he’d been hunting down for years. He was speechless and that’s saying something. We spent the rest of the session playing with variations in the surnames we’d all been hunting for in our own families. Sometimes we put spaces in: sometimes we took spaces out. The same theory applies to names with punctuation: take out the punctuation and the space, leave the space but take out the punctuation, leave the punctuation but take out the space, you get the picture.

Most genealogy search engines do a great job searching for variant spellings of names but sometimes they need a little space.

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