If you have ever searched for an ancestor in a database, or browsed a book's index for their surname, you need this free software. Surname Suggestion List will generate a list of similar sounding surnames for any surname you are researching and potentially help you crush that brick wall.
Searching for a variety of similar sounding surnames, as well as similarly spelled surnames, is vitally important if you hope to find your ancestor. Have you ever searched for an ancestor in a database and the database returned no hits? It may be because you are only searching for the one surname that you are used to, or you have not thought of how the census taker may have interpreted and written the name.
For example, I recently looked for John McCall in an index of a book. He was not there under that spelling. Had I stopped my search with the McCall spelling, I would still be stuck. Digging deeper, the index listed the same person, but with a variety of spellings: MaCall, McCaul, and McHale.
If we are going to find our ancestors, we must develop creativity and imagination when trying to come up with variations for our ancestor's names. When we cannot think of all potential variations, a good resource to turn to is Surname Suggestion List. It is a very simple program - all you do is enter the surname and click search.
(Click on image for a larger view)
In this example, I entered the surname of McCall and it gave me dozens of other possibilities:
MaCall - Mackall - Mcall - McCalla - McCaul - McColl - etc.
Many of these results are ones that I did not think of on my own. With this new information, I should probably go back to the many databases and indexes and search again.
You never know how a census taker, indexer, or even your own ancestor will spell their name. I strongly recommend downloading Matthew Combs's free software:
- Surname Suggestion List - Clique Here
Posted on October 12, 2007 in Technology Tip Permalink