Closson Press

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Complete Soundex Guide

Complete Soundex Guide

Author: Willis I. Else
The author brings together myriad examples surrounding the misunderstood and confusing Soundex and Miracode. The purpose of this guide is to provide genealogists and historians with a complete and accurate methodology for finding names in records indexed with the Russell Soundex encoding and filing system. He has accomplished this task and more. In the process he reveals that most genealogical texts offering instructions for the Russell system are neither complete nor consistent with coding established by the Census Bureau and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

Robert C. Russell invented his Soundex system in the early twentieth century. It was used to create indexes to the 1880-1930 U.S. population schedules, various INS customs and passenger lists, and naturalization records. Will’s quest to solve a puzzle of soundex systems began in 1998 when, in discussion with friends at a genealogical conference, it was noted that the Soundex rules displayed on the Clayton Library for Genealogical Researcher’s web site in Houston differed from those used by NARA in its publications and web site. After interviewing staff members at Clayton, NARA, the Census Bureau, and the INS, and after completing a series of independent tests, Else realized that Clayton’s rules yielded codes consistent with INS and Census Bureau indexes. He also realized that the coding was more accurate than that recommended by NARA and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Consequently, NARA agreed to drop its own rules and begin displaying the more accurate rules on its web site in February 2000.

The author not only fully discusses the various soundex systems, but also provides rule-testing examples, abundant illustrations, and extensive endnotes. He includes information for locating census and INS indexes and a list of abbreviations used in Soundex and Miracode indexes. His discussion also addresses the coding and special treatments for Spanish-language surnames, American Indian names, Asian names, compound and single-term names, and members of religious orders who have no surnames. Will intends for his publication to supplement various National Archives publications.

While certainly not light reading, this volume will adequately assist researchers in distinguishing between complete and incomplete Soundex rules, identifying indexes using Census Bureau and INS rules, and reliably locating someone in any soundex records. This is a fascinating case study of a “non-standard” genealogical problem with direct applications for researchers.

2002, 8.5" X 11", Softbound, 122 pages
ISBN 155856375X

Price: $16.00

SKU: CP-313

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