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Guidelines For Entry of Problem Names
Many times, names have been difficult to decipher. Other times, the document
itself has been damaged in various ways that impacted our ability to read the
information. Several methods have been employed to indicate to the reader when
we had difficulty. They are as follows:
- When a surname has been difficult to determine and could be read alternately,
we have indicated this by using two and sometimes three possibilities. For
example, Rud or Ried. For your convenience we have made separate entries
for each possibility: Rud or Ried and Ried or Rud. We encourage individuals
to go to the original source and make a determination for themselves if the
name is important for their research. For given names, we will also indicate
more than one possibility, but will not make separate entries for each one.
- When an undetermined number of letters were unreadable, we used the ellipsis “.
. .” in place of the letters we could not decipher, while we included
those characters we could read. For example: Cr . . . [surname] and . . .
seph [given name]. It would be difficult to determine the surname with confidence,
but the given name is most likely “Joseph”.
- When a known number of characters could not be read, an asterisk “*” was
used in place of each letter we could not decipher. Often the name can be
determined based on where the asterisk is placed. For example, with Brow*
one can readily determine the name is most likely Brown. However, when one
or more asterisks are placed at the beginning of a name, the possibilities
become more numerous and therefore difficult to determine.
- When we were unsure about the reading, we would include a question mark “?” after
- Sometimes we could not read the name because the writing was too faint,
it was covered with ink blotches, portions of the document was damaged/missing,
or for many other reasons. We tried to indicate this when we felt a name
was there by using “[Unreadable]”, “[Missing]”, “[Illegible]”, “[Name
crossed out]”, etc., in place of the name. In some cases, a name might
be read by examining carefully the original document. If individuals are
successful in deciphering the name, the compilers would appreciate receiving
feedback from them indicating what the name should be. If there is agreement,
a change could be made to the entry that is on our website: www.censustrail.com which
will benefit everyone.
- When the first letter was obviously wrong and would interfere in a researcher’s
ability to readily see the name, we have placed in brackets what we thought
the name should be along with the spelling of the name in the original. One
can use the search feature on the Internet to find these names. An example
is Knewkurk [Newkirk], Richard. A researcher might never know to look under
the spelling Knewkurk and therefore miss potentially vital information. By
searching for the name Newkirk, one would find this entry.
- Sometimes it is difficult to tell which is the given name and which is
the surname. When there has been doubt about the proper order of given name/surname,
we have made an entry such as: Everet or Jones, [surname], and Jones or Everet
[given name]. Then we have made another entry with the names reversed such
as Jones or Everet [surname], and Everet or Jones [given name].
When deciphering entries, we have always tried to err on the side of reasonable,
known, practical, and possible names rather than unreasonable, impossible,
or impractical spellings.