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Searching for names with special characters

 
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roger.pape
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Joined: 17 Mar 2009
Posts: 386
Location: Liverpool, NY

PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:30 am    Post subject: Searching for names with special characters Reply with quote

Have you ever wondered why you might be having trouble locating a particular name when doing a search on the Web? Perhaps the original spelling of the name had some special character with a diacritical mark, such as an umlaut in German names.

The key to finding historical records on the Web is the way in which they were indexed. If the index does not handle special characters, one must know how they were replaced in the index. For example, if the name contains the letter ‘ü’, as in Müller, the name was anglicized in one of two ways. Either the umlaut was dropped and the spelling became Muller or it was replaced with an ‘e’ and spelled as Mueller.

The original spelling in some documents may have still contained the umlaut, such as the early land patents for Conrad Stünkel. So it all depends on how the indexer entered the name in the file containing the list of these documents. If the index file does not handle these special characters, some indexers dropped the umlaut while others would add an ‘e’ after the letter. Note also that some families eventually changed the spelling of their surname.

You have one of three options. First of all, you can try using the special character in the search string. (This would require the use of a character or symbol map such as found in word processors to insert that letter into the search string.) Secondly, you can ignore the umlaut. (This will probably give the same results as the first case if the index does not handle special characters.) If these fail, you can try using the added ‘e’, like many of us are used to seeing in a name.
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