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Guidelines for Performing An Effective Search
Please read the Introduction when using an application for the first time. It may provide you with information regarding the original data, as well as how it is organized within the database. In some cases you may be able to view information on geographic location, historical background, and microfilm as well as other information that may aid you in your research.
Entering as much information as you can will result in a faster, more effective search.
Illegal Characters: Using characters such as ! @ # $ % & + = \ / | ^ and other special characters in a search field will result in an error when performing a search. Characters such as - ' ( ) ? * may be used in some cases. Please refer to the introduction for information regarding the usage of special characters in the database.
Using Begins With, Exactly or Contains options:
Exactly: Using this option produces more accurate search results. This option is recommended when using Soundex to produce accurate results.
Begins With Example: Entering John and choosing Begins With will return names such as John, Johnson, Johnstone, etc.
Contains Example: Entering Donald and choosing Contains will return names such as McDonald, MacDonald, Donaldson, etc.
Wildcards You can use a question mark to represent a single character or you can use an asterick to represent one or more characters. Example: Entering All?n will return names such as Allan, Allen, etc., Entering Mc* will return names such as McBay, McBriarty, etc.
Variant Spellings: When searching for a name that may have variant spellings such as SMITH, SMITHE, or SMYTHE, it may be helpful to use the Soundex option, if available.
Dates: In applications requiring a range of dates to be entered, dates must be within the specified range shown on the search form. These fields will usually contain the default values of the minimum and maximum years in the database.
Unknown Years: If the "Include Unknown Years" option is available, check it to include records in your search for which no years have been entered in the database. In some cases, the official document may have been illegible or the information not entered.
County: Choosing a county will further limit your search.
Customizing Your Search Results: Use the drop-down boxes at the bottom of the search form to:
- Choose which field to sort the results by.
- Choose which order to list the results (ascending or descending).
- Choose the number of records per page to display. The default is 20 records per page which produces search results faster.
The results of your search may take a moment to download, please be patient.
Regarding Search Results:
Information in the database must appear as originally recorded -- Archives cannot make changes to Official records.
Search options available when viewing a record
When you are viewing a record you may notice the following icons . These icons allow you to search the Federated Database or Vital Statistics using the values from the name field adjacent to the icons.
Soundex is a means established by the US National Archives to index the US Census (beginning in 1880). It codes together surnames of the same and similar sounds but of variant spellings such as SMITH and SMYTH. Both of these names would have the same Soundex code. Thus, if you entered SMITH for a last name and used the Soundex option, your search would return all names that sound like SMITH even if they are spelled differently.
Limitations of Soundex:
Surname prefixes such as La, De and Van are generally not used in the Soundex. However, Mc, Mac and O generally are not considered prefixes and are coded for Soundex.
Names that sound alike do not always have the same Soundex code. For example, Lee and Leigh are pronounced identically, but have different Soundex codes because the silent g in Leigh is given a code.
Names that sound alike but start with a different first letter will always have a different Soundex code. Names such as Carr and Karr will have different codes.