Re: Need suggestions for how to search for misspelled family names #records

sharon yampell

It is quite interesting that this topic came up just as I was sharing with a distant cousin what I thought was her downfall when trying o find family members…


She is always getting stuck on how the last name looks, rather than how it may sound… For example, we have family members with the last name of TUroff,,,,she would get caught up on only thinking of Turoff and possibly Turofsky…instead of thinking with a thick accent, the last name could also have been Turovsky with a V…Michele is correct, it is not always a misspelled last name but an alternative spelling…also be on the look out for permutations…I have one last name on my tree with at least a dozen or more permuations…



Sharon F. Yampell

Voorhees, NJ



Sent from Mail for Windows 10


From: Michele Lock
Sent: Monday, September 28, 2020 4:37 PM
To: main@...
Subject: Re: [] Need suggestions for how to search for misspelled family names #records


By misspelled family names, I assume you mean misspelled surnames. 
Myself, I've stopped thinking of them as misspelled, and instead as alternative spellings of the same or similar name. My own simple one-syllable surname, I have found in various US, German, and Lithuanian records as Lak, Lack, Lok, Lakas, Liak, Lyak, Locke, and Lock, all based on the Yiddish surname 'Lamed-Alelph-Koph' (from grandfather's US tombstone). I do consider a misspelling to be when a US census record has the surname as 'Lech', though perhaps the census taker mis-heard it. 
Looking for ship passenger lists was the most challenging, until I realized that a clerk in a shipping company in Hamburg or Bremen would write down the name with German spelling, which would be Lak or Lack. I searched for both these spellings then, and also tried my luck with Lok. Was a lot more fruitful. 
Using the option of 'Starts with' was also helpful, for both first names and surnames, along with the approximate birthyear (+/- 5 years minimum) and year of arrival (+/- 3 years minimum). I have had more luck doing broad searches rather than focused ones, especially with immigrants mis-remembering their year of arrival, and having only the broadest idea of what year they were born.

Michelle Lock


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