07 June 2008

Steve Morse: New One-Step features

There's nothing Steve Morse likes better than a challenge. The newest additions to his One-Step website include phonetic name matching, searching naturalization records, searching reference books, New Orleans ship records, two new calendar converters, and a new Arabic transliterater.

I couldn't resist trying the last one first.

Arabic Transliterator

Arabic has been added to transliterators for Hebrew, Cyrillic and Greek. I couldn't resist checking it out with Farsi which more or less (there are differences) uses the same alphabet as Arabic. Results:

Dardashti produced DRDSHTY, DRDSHTI.

be zabon-e-farsi ("in the Farsi language"), produced BH ZBN FRSY.

entezar ta entekhabat, "waiting until the election"), produced a list of possibilities from ANTZR T ANTKHBT to the more correct NTZAR TA NTKHABAT, where the initial N ("en") is more correct than an initial A ("an") sound. I'll check it out with longer phrases and report back later. (Foreign Language section)

New Calendar Converters:
French Revolutionary, Muslim Calendar

The One-Step site already had a Jewish Calendar Converter. French Revolutionary Calendar and Muslim Calendar converters have been added. The French calendar is a decimal construction that is fascinating and it nearly caused another revolution on its own when people believed their weekends had been taken away. If you are searching Napoleanic-era records, this may be useful. The Muslim calendar is purely lunar, which means any holiday may fall at anytime without regard to season.

However, the Persian calendar is not yet included and is a completely different construct. I'll have to ask Steve about adding that one, which would be very useful for Persian researchers. (Calendar section)

Phonetic Name Matching

Steve Morse, with Alexander Beider, has developed a method of phonetic name matching with advantages over soundex name matching. Soundex considers the way the name is spelled, but phonetic matching considers the way the name is pronounced.

Pronunciation is language-specific; a determination of the language is made from the spelling. Consequently, a soundex search will result in a large number of false hits to examine, but a phonetic search will return relatively few false hits.

Phonetic name matching has been or is about to be included on several existing One-Step forms. These include the gold form for searching for passengers in the Ellis Island database (coming soon) as well as the One-Step Dachau Concentration Camp search form. It is also included in two new forms described below (Searching Naturalization Records and Searching Reference Books).

Following each description is the category in which the new form is found.

Searching Naturalization Records

FootNote.com (subscription), has collections of naturalization records (some 2 million) for several states. However, the search facility for finding people in these collections is limited. One-Step now offers flexible searching of these records. (Vital Records section)

Searching Reference Books

Several reference books with Jewish surnames have been published; most by Alexander Beider, one by Lars Menk. A new One-Step form has been added for searching names in these books. Results show which books contain the name, but not the full entry.(Holocaust and Eastern Europe section)

New Orleans Ship Records

Ancestry.com (subscription) has the ship records for major US ports (New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Galveston and San Francisco). One-Step had a trio of search forms for each port (simplify the passenger search, provide direct access to manifest microfilms if roll and frame number are known, or to determine roll and frame number for any ship arrival). One-Step now has these tools for New Orleans. (Other Ports section)


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