Looking for lists of names to help people index and find their ancestors

Issues related to FamilySearch Indexing
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Looking for lists of names to help people index and find their ancestors

Postby mark_h_dewey » Sun Sep 16, 2018 8:47 pm

I've been wanting an online service out there that allows regular expression searches for given names (of each sex) and for surnames, and place names—for use with family history and indexing (to help find names that match certain criteria when you know part of the name, but not the whole thing, and are looking at an image of a hand-written document).

I realized today that this can be accomplished without an online service. I don't know how I didn't realize this before. All you need is the lists of names. Then you can do the regular expression searches yourself in a text editor. I tried this with the 1990 USA census and it worked fairly well (and helped me identify names with more certainty).

Does anyone know where I can get massive lists of real names (lists of given names for each sex, lists of surnames, and lists of place names)? Ideally, we would have multiple lists for each country (since some names are more common in some countries than others), and even different lists for different time periods (with combined lists, too, of course).

So, creating such an online service would be incredibly easy, as long as you had the lists. I'm surprised no one has done it (that I'm aware of). I might do it myself if I get enough lists to make it worthwhile (not that I have a server to host the site, currently).

If you don't know what regular expressions are, they're a way to search for more specific things than a regular search will allow (and a lot more than wildcards allow for). No, Google doesn't allow regular expressions, unfortunately.

Anyway, besides those from the 1990 census, does anyone know of any massive public domain lists of names? I'd love to extend my repertoire of lists.

Finding the lists of place names should be easy enough, considering Wikipedia has a lot of lists (e.g. search for list of townlands for county such and such—if you want names of places in Ireland). But, most of the name databases (for given and surnames) out there are probably proprietary.

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Re: Looking for lists of names to help people index and find their ancestors

Postby sbradshaw » Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:56 pm

The desktop FamilySearch Indexing program had a built-in lookup function for looking up names:

Unfortunately, it hasn't been transitioned to Web Indexing yet, but according to this article it's on its way:
Samuel Bradshaw • If you desire to serve God, you are called to the work.

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