Cyber Solutions: Wild Side

Cyber Solutions: Wild Side

Do any search engines support wildcards or Soundex?

Q. Do any search engines support wildcards or Soundex so I can find a name when it’s not spelled as I expect?

A. Some genealogy Web sites support wildcard and Soundex searching, which help you find similarly spelled names. On Ancestry.com <Ancestry.com >, a wildcard search for ste*en finds Steven, Stephen and Steffen. The site automatically includes Soundex matches (unless you choose Exact Matches), nabbing variations such as Hubbell, Hubbel and Hubbill.

My Heritage <www.myheritage.com/research> uses Soundex and its own Megadex search technology to find name variations in many genealogy databases. I’m unaware of any general-purpose search engine that supports wildcard or Soundex searching, but most search engines let you use OR to find alternatives, such as spelling variations of a name. Instead of doing two separate searches, try “Frederick Law Olmsted” OR “Frederick Law Olmstead,” or use Google’s Advanced Search for fill-in-the-blanks searching.

Although Google doesn’t support wildcard searching on parts of a word, an asterisk wildcard substitutes for one or more words. Search on “James Hall” “Mount Morris * New York” and matches include pages with James Hall and just the town and state (Mount Morris, New York) and the town, county and state (Mount Morris, Livingston County, New York and Mount Morris, Livingston, New York). An asterisk wildcard works the same way with some other search engines.

From the November 2008 Family Tree Magazine

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