Default Last Name Settings

When you use default settings, we look through every last name we have recorded in our more than 29,000 data collections, and pull out any record where the last name is:

These records are also evaluated against the other criteria that you have given us, and are ordered based on how well all the elements in that record match your search. We no longer include Soundex matches on your default searches.

Last Name Search Options

Exact Matches: Records that contain a last name that is exactly what you typed in will appear in your results.

Soundex Variations: Soundex is a common algorithm used to generate alternative spellings of a surname. If you choose this option, any record that contains one of the Soundex variations for a surname might appear in your results.

Phonetic Variations: There are other name matching algorithms that we can use to help identify records to consider for your results. If you choose phonetic, we will identify appropriate algorithms that apply to specific data collections and if a record has one of those names, we will use it as a possible record for your results set. For example, if you are prioritizing Jewish Collections first, we would choose the Daitch-Mokotoff phonetic algorithm.

Similar Variations: There are alternatives and spelling variations that are commonly used such as Hashe for Hash. If you choose this option we will look for records with these alternatives and consider them as possible results for you to look at.

Other tips you might find useful

Wildcards: You can also use the wildcards * and ? in your name searches. * (or asterisk) will match any number of characters and ? will match only one character. You may use the * and ? anywhere in your search, but you must have at least 3 letters. So *own is a legal search, but *wn is not. You might try searching for Smith as Sm?th, which would match Smith or Smyth, or you might try Sm?th*, which would also match Smythe.

You can use wild cards with exact matches. If you choose the Soundex, phonetic or similar options and use wild cards, then we will only apply the wild cards to the exact matches.

If you are searching for the name Williams, and would like to use wildcards and some of the other search options, you could try: Wil*am*, Williams