Column: Using Inappropriate Words in Search Engines

Between today and Wednesday, my genealogy column, Roots to the Past, is available in the following Atlantic Canada newspapers:

Saturday: The Citizen (Amherst)

Saturday: Times & Transcript (Moncton)

Wednesday: The Lunenburg County Progress Bulletin (Lunenburg County)

Title: Using Inappropriate Words in Search Engines

Snippet: The thought process of record keepers years ago sometimes baffles me. The simplest question can be completed incorrectly. For example, in my search of vital records, I have often found “Indian” noted in fields that were meant to record condition (widow/spinster/bachelor) and trade on marriage records. Stating their ethnic origin does nothing to indicate their pre-marital status or what they did for a living no more than if “Irish” was recorded.

The benefit of the note, however, aids researchers when seeking aboriginal ancestors in records that may not otherwise state such information. If these records had an automated search engine, researchers could easily find them if the correct key words were entered.

Terminology used today to describe individuals in official government documents, legal papers, newspapers, books and other written material differs from that in the past. These terms, however, cannot be erased and forgotten or genealogy research will be hindered.

Long-time genealogists understand automated search engines do not apply political correctness, so the original terms must be used or the results will be incomplete.

. . . To read more, pick up one of the above noted newspapers.

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