Soundex searches usually do not find spelling variants that begin with a different letter than the name for which you are searching. A soundex search for Cain will normally bring up Cane, Caine, Cone, etc. but will not locate Kain, Kane, Kaine, etc.

When working on a new name list all the variants of that name and remember that Soundex searches only bring up results with the same initial letter of the name entered.

A Soundex search for Night won’t usually locate Knight either.



5 Responses

  1. Hi Michael,

    I just tried my first Soundex search. It’s true. I just never saw the need what with phonetic and wildcard options available.

    But anyway, I tried it and then read your post “Initial Differences in Soundex” and how it usually doesn’t find variants that begin with a different letter than the name you’re searching for.

    But if that’s the case, then how come I get the following results with a Soundex search on Ancestry’s New York Passenger Lists 1820-1957?

    S660 (Schwoerer)- brings up
    Alaba Sk Abba
    Bannick Sk Abdel
    Sk Abdoole Sk Albe
    Jose B Alvarez S
    Maria Amodeo S
    Giovanni S Anna
    Mrs. L J Am??S
    Alburah Sk Barson

    S423 (Schlechtweg) brings up
    Alaba Sk Abba
    Bannick Sk Abdel
    Sk Abdul Hamid
    Giovanni S Anna
    Pedro S Anton

    If I add the year of arrival, the results are much more as you described – mostly all last names starting with the letter “S”.

    The results on Ancestry’s Atlantic Ports, Gulf Coasts, and Great Lakes Passenger Lists, Roll 1, 1820-1871 was even worse – names like Mary S. Trayton, Cabria S. Cattin, H. S. Newcomb, etc.

    What gives? Am I doing something wrong? Perhaps I just don’t understand Soundex and how to use it effectively. :o)

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