17 May 2014

Ancestry.com Search Result Not in Alphabetical Order?

I'm confused again. [partial followup here]

I'm trying to find Sarah and Margarat Demar/Demarrah/Desmarais in the 1905 New York State Census on Ancestry.com. The sisters should be in somewhere in Clinton County, New York. That's not why I am confused.

Given the exponential number of spellings for the last name, I decided to perform first name searches in my attempt to locate the girls. The screen shot shown below was obtained when searching for individuals with the first name of Mar* born in 1888 (plus or minus 1 year) in Clinton County. It's not the search results that I'm confused about.

It's the way they are displayed that is confusing. I thought the listings were in alphabetical order by last name, but that does not appear to be the case. At least not this time. Mary Depre and Mary Deome are out of alphabetical order and Mary Phair is out of order as well (although admittedly "Phiar" is phonetically equivalent to "Fair" and may appear in the "F" section for that reason.) Even if one concedes that "ph" and "f" are equivalent, the names are still not in strict alphabetical order.

Why does it matter?

Because sometimes when performing first name only searches, I get more hit than I can ever review. But I will go to a section of the list that starts with a specific letter and manually review those searches. This is because Ancestry.com won't allow me to perform wildcard searches on last names with only one letter--so I use the alphabetical sort to essentially serve the same purpose.

But now I'm wondering just how alphabetical the sort is.

Now that I review the image above, I realize that Mary Chrystal is out of order also.

What am I missing? Or can Ancestry.com  not sort alphabetically?

And, as usual...the concern is: "if these are weird things that I notice, what other weird things are there with search that I am not noticing?"

[search results accurate as of 16 May 2014]
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