How Do You Spell That?

Now, when you’re searching for a name – you always have to try alternatives for that name as it could have often been spelt a bunch of different ways. For example: Smith, Smyth, Smithe, Smythe. But highlighted from Vera on Twitter, that when she encountered someone had the surname Printer Friendly (yes, you read that right) on an obituary via. Ancestry she was curious how many results there were for that in total. And the answer to that is over 3.8 million results for the surname Printer Friendly.

For the purpose of writing, I thought I’d search for the same thing and see what appears for me. In the below image, you’ll notice I got 3.4 million results for the surname “Printer Friendly”.

As you see above I got 3,469,793 results for [firstname] [Printer Friendly] on Ancestry, 193,986 on MyHeritage and (surprisingly!) only 1 on FindMyPast. While this is what much less than what Vera got for Ancestry, it does beg the question: how on earth did this happen in the first place?

You may have heard of OCR before. To define it:

“(Optical Character Recognition) The machine recognition of printed characters. OCR systems can recognize many different fonts, including those designed specifically for optical recognition as well as typewriter and computer-printed characters.

From: [Accessed: August 15th 2021]

As the definition above mentions, it’s a machine recognising printed characters. And although I could be wrong – it is probably very difficult to try and teach the machine EVERY surname that has existed so it can recognise what is and isn’t a surname. But as a result of this, it’s possibly prevented you finding that missing record. So the lesson from this, please try this surname (as silly as the suggestion sounds) as it could help you. And if your ancestor/relation does happen to be one of them, please report the error. If you enjoyed this, please consider sharing this post! And as always – stay tuned for more…

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