Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - CENSUS SEARCHING -

Wild­cards are sym­bols that sub­sti­tute let­ters, and are par­tic­u­larly use­ful for names with a va­ri­ety of spellings. Each web­site op­er­ates its own unique wild­card pol­icy though, so check the small print first. On An­ces­try and Find­my­past an * rep­re­sents any num­ber of con­sec­u­tive char­ac­ters (so Johns* would find Johns, John­son, John­ston, John­stone and other de­riv­a­tives), while ? rep­re­sents a sin­gle char­ac­ter (so Br?an would find Brian and Bryan).

It’s quite nor­mal to find that some let­ters have been mis­taken for oth­ers when old hand­writ­ing has been tran­scribed to cre­ate the on­line in­dex. The let­ter n could be mis­taken for rr, the let­ters f,s, l, t and k are fre­quently con­fused, as are the let­ters a,e, o and s, so us­ing wild­cards in­stead of these let­ters might just help.

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