08 January 2015

Using a wildcard to search

A couple of days ago I was doing some research on Samuel Christian Frederic Baumgarten and accidentally discovered an extra child!

It turns out that Samuel Frederick Baumgarten was Samuel and Mary Baumgarten's first child - they were married on June 6, 1751, and he was born on March 4, 1752. I cannot find any record for what happened to him, but neither can I for most of his siblings, and can only assume that they died young.

But why hadn't I found him before? I'm pretty thorough with my research after all.

Spelling. The surname was spelled differently.

I've found Baumgarten transcribed as Baumgarton before, as a result of how they wrote the letter "e" in those days - which can these days be misconstrued as an "o". In this case though, it was recorded with an incorrect spelling - "Baumgerten", which could well have been transcribed as Baumgorton but amazingly wasn't! You can see the way they wrote the letter "e" below.

I found him by using a wildcard when searching for Baumgarten references. A wildcard is a symbol used to represent one or more characters. Usually the symbol used is a "?" or a "*" or a "%". On the off-chance that there might have been different spellings I used "Baum*" in my search, though usually I have used "Baumgart*" as I never expected them to get the second "a" wrong! And I accidentally discovered Samuel Frederick Baumgarten as a result.

So, if you're up against a brick wall, can I suggest you use wildcards in your searches. You never know what surprises you might uncover!

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