Ellis Island Search Engine Has Great Shortcomings #belarus

Gary Mokotoff <mokotoff@...>

If your name has many spelling variants, some unknown to you, don't
expect to find your ancestors in the Ellis Island database. The
search engine used to retrieve records has great shortcomings.
There is no soundex system but instead the Ellis Island Foundation
claims they use a "computational linguistic search filtering system
that is sensitive to ethnic linguistic patterns." Sunday morning,
at 3:00 a.m., I managed to access the system and discovered the
following as examples:

1. The most basic concept of soundexing--ignoring vowels--is not
part of the search mechanism. MOKOTOW gave different results than

2. If the search name ends in -SKY, there is no match if the
immigrant came as -SKI.

There are options for "Close Matches Only" and "Alternate Spellings
Only", but neither addressed the problems described above.

A complete report is in a special edition of Avotaynu's e-zine "Nu?
What's New?" which was sent to its subscribers Sunday afternoon. A
copy of the edition can be found at http://www.avotaynu.com/nu.htm

Gary Mokotoff

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