Surname Shapes and Sounds: Circumnavigating Spelling Variations, Mistranscriptions, and Clerical Errors in Electronic Indexes


Most researchers are at least somewhat accustomed to thinking about surname spelling variations when conducting record searches. Thankfully, many search engine results automatically include some of the more basic spelling variations for us.

Augustus and Mary Ann (Michell) Chevalier were French immigrants who arrived in New York City about 1822. Surprisingly, only about a third of the census and vital records sought for the family were found by entering the standard spelling and basic known information into search engines, then viewing the results of that search. Discovering more about them, their ten children, and some of their grandchildren required a bit of trickery.

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