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Indexing the MA Vital Records Project

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Indexing the MA Vital Records Project

Posted: 19 May 2011 6:33AM GMT
Classification: Query
Good morning, everyone.

It's been quite some time since I posted anything about the project. It's high time I did so. This is also going on the project forum and to the e-mail lists.

Over the last year and a half I have been working on two things with the vital records - 1. adding indexing information for the person's given name, the gender and date; 2. Reformatting each town as I complete its indexing.

I am working on the new surname index which wil look similar to the one at

I want to make the project even better. This means adding search capability that will allow searching for a person while specifying such things as parents, date, spouse. I believe I can make this search easier to use than anything else online. It will not change the way I have the site. It will only add more capability.

I would like some help with adding the indexing info for the parents' and spouse's names. This is VERY easy, albeit a bit tedious. You must have a PC or a Mac that can run PC programs. You enter the names exactly as you see them. No middle names or initials. Nothing entered for something that isn't in the record. You do not need to be on the internet. You do not need to check anything.

If you'd like to help, write me at

A bit more info on this. In the Bradford births to 1850 there are the following entries:

CAMPALL (Campbell)
Phebe, d. Elexander and Jonnah, Aug. 9, 1744.

CAMPBALL (Campbell)
Joannah, d. Elexeander and Joannah, Sept. 2, 1739.

CAMPBELL (Campall, Campball, Campell)
Elisebeth, d. Elicksander and Joanna, Sept. 17, 1732.
James, s. Elicksander and Joanna, Sept. 15, 1730.
Joanna, d. Elicksander and Joanna, Mar. 2, 1735.

CAMPELL (Campbell)
Sarah, d. Alexander and Jonnah, Apr. 11, 1742.

Notice all of the different spellings. I just checked on NEHGS. If I search only the surname CAMPBELL in the Bradford births, it gets only three hits - Elisebeth, James & Joanna. If I add the keyword Alexander, I get no hits. If Sarah's birth had been in an adjoining town, like Rowley, Georgetown, Boxford or Haverhill, you might not even find it. With the indexing I'm developing, you'll be able to search for Joannah, daughter of Alexander and Joanna, and you'll get both of the above births.

One of the things you won't get with my indexing will be a bunch of hits that are not what you wanted. If you are looking for Thomas HARDY, you'll get hits for Thomas HARDY/HARDIE/HARDEE/HARDEY. There will NOT be hit for Hardy THOMAS.

The new surname indexing will help you with alternate spellings. There are about 25 spellings for BACHELOR/BATCHELDER. (These were probably related early on. Perhaps the D was dropped and that's how BACHELOR came about.) Soundex works great for this set of names. But, what if you were researching CAIN? You wouldn't find KANE, McCAIN or McKANE using soundex. My new indexing will. With the addition of indexing given names using common spellings, your research should be far easier.

John Slaughter
In memory of our son, Brennan. 11/10/88-5/31/01 -
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