Whenever you discover a new branch on your family tree, you probably head straight to Google for a surname search. You may meet with success, but you could miss out on a discovery if you don’t carefully word your query and consider alternate surname spellings.
So Matt Combs, a North Carolina software developer and genealogy aficionado, has targeted both problems with a new free program for Windows called Surname Suggestion List.
I downloaded the program and typed in my last name—Crume—and then clicked Search. The program produced 45 name variations in three groups: excellent matches, such as Crume, Crum and Crome; close matches, like Crom, Krum and Groome; and longshots, including Croom and Krom.
I clicked on Crume and hit the Google Search button. The program searched Google for Crume and genealogy, producing 9,350 matches, several with extensive genealogical information. Adding more search terms, such as a first name or a place, whittles the matches to the most relevant sites. I added Bardstown, that family’s Kentucky hometown, and got 113 matches.
To broaden your Surname Suggestion List search, click the Wider Search button. Then the program searches on ~genealogy, which finds genealogy plus synonyms such as family tree. You also can search on a range of years, but I found that option less useful.
You could go directly to Google and search for a last name and genealogy, but the Surname Suggestion List comes up with alternate spellings you might not have thought to check. I’ve come across Crum and Croom in old documents, but I hadn’t considered variations such as Crom, Krum and Groome.
Of course, Surname Suggestion List doesn’t necessarily cover every possibility. (In this case, it didn’t suggest Croome or Groom.) And it’d be nice if you could search on more than one name at a time. Still, the program is a very handy tool for Googling your ancestors.