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Wildcards on GRO website

Posted: 23 Oct 2018 05:48
by Gowermick
As you may know, the normal wildcards like * and ? cannot be used in finding mis-spelt entries on the GRO website. I have just found out via another forum (whodoyouthinkyouare forum) that when they couldn’t decipher a surname, they entered ellipsis (...) instead. So try using ... for surname when searching, just in case they have done this to the entry you are looking for!

Warning- I’ve yet to try it for myself, but I do trust the source of this tip - so nothing ventured etc... :D

Re: Wildcards on GRO website

Posted: 23 Oct 2018 08:50
by tatewise
By "GRO website" do you mean this one: Knowledge Base > Service ~ UK GRO Online Index Search?

Re: Wildcards on GRO website

Posted: 23 Oct 2018 09:41
by Gowermick
Yes, it is the only GRO website I know of :D

Re: Wildcards on GRO website

Posted: 23 Oct 2018 11:12
by David2416
Gave this a quick try:
Gives results for
...
S...
M...
But not for
... R
... M...
Sm...

Re: Wildcards on GRO website

Posted: 23 Oct 2018 12:12
by AdrianBruce
David2416 wrote:Gave this a quick try:
Gives results for
...
S...
M...
But not for
... R
... M...
Sm...
Yes - I guess that simply means that the GRO indexers were able to read at least one name starting with a legible S, also at least one starting with a legible M, but not one starting with "Sm" - or if they did read it, they didn't index it. Remember, the "..." isn't a wild-card - it just indicates where the indexer gave up.

And I'd no idea that they might have indexed "S...", etc., - so that's useful, thanks.

But my frustration over this method, as expressed on WDYTYA forum, is - how on earth is anyone supposed to know this technique has been used? And how do we use the fact that some gave up totally and just wrote "..." while some might have indexed the first letter only ("S...") and - well, then what other variants?

Re: Wildcards on GRO website

Posted: 23 Oct 2018 22:52
by AnneEast
I search for birth and death entries elewhere (Free BMD, Ancestry, FMP) to see if the one I'm looking for is there and then try on the GRO website to pin them down. This is mostly successful but not always. I was told recently that the transcribing for the births and deaths was done from the actual certificate records and NOT from any of the various editions of indexes which exist.
Anne

Re: Wildcards on GRO website

Posted: 24 Oct 2018 06:31
by ColeValleyGirl
Ann, Yes, the GRO indices are completely new indices from the certificates, not a revamp of the existing indices. As such they can throw up different results from FreeBMD... for example, there's a whole set of births from volume 6 not indexed for one year (I can't remember which) because they seem to have missed that volume somehow, but freeBMD have them, as does the LocalBMD site for the West Midlands. And of course different indexers have adopted different conventions and read 'difficult' text differently.

Re: Wildcards on GRO website

Posted: 24 Oct 2018 06:40
by David2416
The indexes available at http://www.gro.gov.uk for births to 1916 and deaths to 1957 are new transcriptions from digital copies of the relevant certificates. The indexes available elsewhere are from transcriptions of the original indexes.

Re: Wildcards on GRO website

Posted: 24 Oct 2018 09:23
by tatewise
Yes, that is how they are able to include birth mother’s maiden name and age at death even when not in the usual GRO Index.

Re: Wildcards on GRO website

Posted: 24 Oct 2018 09:31
by ColeValleyGirl
And for births where the mother's maiden name is a common surname before 1850, the index is adding the mother's given name -- coverage is a bit patchy so I'm not sure about progress or scope.

Re: Wildcards on GRO website

Posted: 24 Oct 2018 19:43
by AdrianBruce
What perturbs me is the number of entries indexed as "..." (or "S..." or whatever) because the indexer couldn't read the certificate.

If the indexing was done from the originals, it seems quite a high error rate - if the surname can't be read with a reasonable degree of confidence, what does it say about the image of the certificate itself? Or was the indexing done from digital images that have been reduced to pure black-and-white, no gray-scale - a tactic that I detest as totally unnecessary and Kew (at least) still seem to be doing. Such images are more difficult to read.

To add to the puzzlement - take this sample

Code: Select all

..., GEORGE  FREDERICK   	SMITH   	
GRO Reference: 1860  J Quarter in BROMSGROVE  Volume 06C  Page 407  
The surname of the father can't be read it appears. Yet the child's 2 given names were, as was the mother's surname. Curious...

But this one does look like a serious legibility problem

Code: Select all

..., ...     	...  	
GRO Reference: 1860  D Quarter in DERBY  Volume 07B  Page 377 

Re: Wildcards on GRO website

Posted: 25 Oct 2018 10:39
by DavidNewton
That is very strange. I used FreeBMD to look up the reference and got a name. Putting that name into the GRO gives
GRO.JPG
GRO.JPG (23.23 KiB) Viewed 2229 times
so there must be two entries with the same index reference.

David

Re: Wildcards on GRO website

Posted: 25 Oct 2018 11:24
by tatewise
David, not sure how you searched, but in FreeBMD with Search for
Type Births
Date range Dec 1860 to Dec 1860
Volume/Page 7b / 377
FreeBMD found several entries all in Derby of which FOX, Sarah Ann is just one.
Entering any of them into GRO Search confirmed those entries.
There are typically about 10 entries per GRO page.
However, that still does not explain the GRO entries for ellipsis (...) which works for both Male and Female Gender on Page 377 but NOT adjacent Pages 376 and 378.

Has anyone followed up the invitation to report the problem:
Noticed a problem with a record in the GRO Indexes?
You can report it to GRO and help us improve the quality of information available.

Re: Wildcards on GRO website

Posted: 25 Oct 2018 12:18
by DavidNewton
tatewise wrote:David, not sure how you searched,
Clearly not well enough.

David

Re: Wildcards on GRO website

Posted: 25 Oct 2018 12:21
by LornaCraig
It's worth noting that Findmypast have the mother's maiden name in some, but not all, pre 1911 births, as I reported some time ago in this topic, FMP starting to add mother's maiden name to pre 1911 births (15644),

Taking David's example above, a search on FMP for Sarah Ann Fox with mother's name Sutton produces the result. I don't know if they are taking this from the GRO's new index or whether they have done their own indexing. (They also have some births indexed from the Derbyshire Registrar's birth index, but those don't have the mother's maiden name.)

Re: Wildcards on GRO website

Posted: 25 Oct 2018 13:18
by tatewise
Interesting!
Out of curiosity I searched FMP for Births in 1860 4th quarter in Derby, Derbyshire, England.
FMP found 474 Results many of which did have a Mother's maiden name listed, but some without.
Then set Mother's Maiden Name filter to ?* and it reduced to 368 Results all with a Mother's maiden name listed, and all despite the warning that it can only be used for births from 1911 onwards.