23 February 2012

Variant Names Project

The purpose of this project is to create a comprehensive database of name variants that should be searched whenever a particular name is searched. As anyone who has done research knows, sometimes every document you find “spells” a surname and/or forename spelled differently?  Eventually your list of name variants can get pretty long!  When you are starting out, it can be hard to “know” what are all the different spellings that you need to be searching on are!  This project will help with that!

As stated on the project page ...

Currently, providers of genealogical records use algorithms like Soundex, or home-grown solutions to the problem of returning records with names that are spelled similarly and are likely matches for the searched-for name. A large part of genealogical expertise involves learning alternate spellings for the surnames in your tree. Why not share this knowledge with others?

The goal is to create a free resource that all genealogy websites use, so that genealogy searches are consistent across the Web.

Ancestry.com and WeRelate worked together to create an advanced algorithm for determining the level of similarity between two names. That algorithm was used to create the starting point for this database. The algorithm was used to find similarly-spelled names for the 200,000 most-frequent surnames and 70,000 most-frequent given names in Ancestry's database. This includes every name that appears more than once every 5,000,000 names in Ancestry's database. On average, 26 variants were found for each surname, and 32 variants were found for each given name...

In addition, BehindTheName.com has donated their excellent list of given name variants ... To the BehindTheName and Ancestry list of names ... additional variants from the WeRelate community, The New American Dictionary of Baby Names, and A Dictionary of Surnames [were included].

You can help! Review the database and provide your input!

Here is an example of what’s currently included for the surname FOUNTAIN, a name found in my family?

Were you able to add a name variant?  Or, were you helped by learning of one you hadn’t previously come across?  As always, please share with us!

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