Soundex is a system that has been used by the US Census Bureau to encode last names based on their sounds. It's very useful to find variations in spelling of the same name, a very common occurence in the censuses of northern Aroostook county and Madawaska County, where anglophone census takers were not necessarily familiar with a standardized spelling of names. It's also useful in searching the Ste Luce parish records, because there was not always one standard way to spell French names, and English names were often misspelled. (For more information and a detailed explanation of the soundex system, see the US National Archives explanation of The Soundex Indexing System. See also Rootsweb's page on Soundex.)

A few examples. The name "Daigle" is sometimes spelled in different ways. If you search for "Daigle" in the 1860 US census, you will not get the entries where the census taker spelled the name "Dagle". However, if you search by Soundex code -- the code for Daigle is D240 -- you will get entries not only for Daigle but also for Dagle. Likewise, Vaillancourt's soundex code is V452. if you search in the 1860 census for "Vaillancourt", you come up with nothing. Searching by the soundex code, you discover that the census taker had written that name as "Villeancourt", and we find 25 individuals with that name. If there had been any entries correctly spelled, they too would have come up in this search result.

On French names: In addition to entering the soundex code for the name as it is spelled, you may want also to determine the soundex code for how the name is pronounced in French. For example, the name Boucher, is pronounced Bushay. Entering Bushay into the soundex box gives us soundex code B200. Searching by that code in the 1860 census, we get Bosse, but also Bushy, one of the misspellings of the name Boucher.

You can also use the online name index for the censuses, in which I have included the corrections to census entries' misspelled; and check the French names in the 1860 census for common misspellings of names in that census; or French and English names in the Ste Luce parish register, for those names.

To use the soundex field in the search forms on the Upper St.John valley website, you first need to determine the soundex value of the name you are searching. You can do that using the "get soundex code" box on the search form itself, or by using the box below.

Enter the name for which you want a soundex code. Click on the "get soundex code button." You will be brought to a page at the Rootsweb website. The soundex code will be in red, consisting of a letter followed by 3 numbers.

Once you have the Soundex code, copy it and paste it into the Soundex box search form.


Return to the 1860 US census search form
Return to the Ste Luce Baptisms search form

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Last revised 6 Feb 2006
©2005-2006, C.Gagnon