11 September 2009

A New Way to Search

I've been working on my elusive Ira Sargent lately for a "Casefile Clues" column and in the course of looking at census records, something came to me. The programming would be difficult, but it might really help those of us who are stuck.

We all know that in some families names are repeated and used, over and over. Wouldn't it be nice if there were a search interface that worked like that?

Say for example I have a family with the following structure in 1850?

Father Asa
Mother Mary
Children: Emma, Ira, Lucretia, Edwin, Martha, Permelia. Places of birth are in Illinois, New York, and Canada.

Lucretia marries--I don't know his last name. But I think that she might have used the names of some of her siblings for names of her children. Wouldn't it be nice if there were a way to enter as search terms Lucretia's place of birth and the names of her children and search for households with a Lucretia above a certain age and with say maybe half of the children having the name Emma, Ira, Edwin, Martha, or Permelia? It would not be proof that I had the right family, but it would at least give me some families to work on. This is one of the difficulties in locating women when their married name is unknown.

Does this make sense (is anyone even listening)? I might not have formulated my thought as precisely as I wanted.
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