Every researcher finds that indexes are sometimes not straightforward. Sometimes you feel like you need an index to the index. This blog will share some of the situations I come across in my daily research for clients. Even with an index in front of you, there are still some major questions you must ask which have direct Irish implications.
The Indexing of “O” and “Mc” Names: Sometimes surnames such as O’Brien and McCurry have their own indexes. There’s no hard rules on this one. Assume that in a typical index, whether published or manuscript, you will have some “O” and “Mc” names. If you don’t see them, then look for a separate index within the index. Also, is Brien/Brian indexed with O’Brien or MacCurry/Curry indexed with McCurry?
Sorted Letters in the Surname: Some indexes, especially manuscript ones, are sorted by the first and third letter of the surname. Others are sorted by first letter after a “key letter.” This can be maddening, but once you figure out the system, then you have to figure out how they sorted the given names!
Is Every Name Indexed?: You need to always question to what degree the author has indexed a source in a published work. For example, on deeds is everybody mentioned in the deeds (buyer, seller, neighbors, witnesses) indexed, or just the buyer and seller? If you have questions, pick some random names from the witness list or from the neighbors and check it against the index. You already know the page these names are on, so it’s easy to tell if they are indexed or not. Manuscript sources, such as the microfilm of the original deed books will usually only list the buyer(s) and seller(s).
These are but a few of the tricks I use in my research. They do work, even if they are tedious. In order to do a thorough job on your genealogy, develop your own tricks of the trade to assure that you have covered all your bases.