Thursday, February 25, 2010

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter: Update: Researching the Genealogy of the Simpsons

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter: Update: Researching the Genealogy of the Simpsons

I'm not sure I've ever watched an episode of The Simpsons before tonight, but after reading Dick Eastman's article, Researching the Genealogy of the Simpsons, yesterday, and then today's post, alerting readers to the episode's availability on Hulu, I was intrigued. And I have to say I found it an enjoyable episode (and it took up the half-hour between the local news and the Olympics). Not being a Simpsons watcher, I don't have a comparison point, but enjoyed Lisa's quest to find a heroic (or just plain respectable) ancestor.

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Soundex, or Better Late Than Never?

"He went to a shelf near the microfilm room and pulled out a thick book. 'This here's The Soundex Daitch-Mokotoff Reference Guide. Soundex is one of the finest systems ever invented.' He led Katharine toward a table, still talking. 'It's a method of indexing names phonetically rather than the way they're spelled, which makes it easier to find names which sound alike but are spelled entirely differently. This is very important in genealogical research, since a name may be spelled several ways by different generations. Even members of the same family may change the spelling of their name.' The lecture went oddly with his appearance, for he reeled the long words off his tongue like he used them often. 'Soundex groups consonants under six categories of key letters and equivalents and ignores vowels, so several names have the same code.' He opened the guide."--Death on the Family Tree, by Patricia Sprinkle (p. 43)

In my ongoing quest for decent genealogical fiction (preferably mysteries), I recently found this paragraph in Patricia Sprinkle's Death on the Family Tree. (Review at LibraryThing). I've been working on genealogy for several years now, but haven't had to use Soundex but once or twice. I'd essentially figured out what it was and why it made sense, but didn't feel a driving need to use it. But I was nevertheless thrilled to find this nice concise explanation in a work of fiction. Maybe it's the cataloger in me, but thinking about Soundex as an index in the form of a Cutter table intrigues me enough to try it more often to see how my search results differ (and hopefully improve).

A little more on Soundex:

Friday, February 5, 2010