Sometimes it is faster to manually search a record set than it is to think of every possible way to query the database in order to search an index. It’s especially true when the name is spelled woefully incorrectly and written in a script that resembles scribbling more than it does writing. If the records being searched are a census record, do you have any idea where the person would be enumerated? Is that region or district fairly small? If so, manually searching may not take that long. Other records may be organized in such a way that a manual search is possible–just not as fast as “typing the name in.”
Manual searches may take longer but sometimes are necessary. They can sometimes result in locating additional individuals or entries that were not originally a part of the search.