BCG Skillbuilding at NGS 2013: David Ouimette on “Overcoming Spelling Problems and Unlocking the Power of Names”

David Ouimette has good reason to explore name variations. He can find his ancestors under the spelling Ouimette and Wemet. That’s not a variation that a soundex search could fix. We would expect, therefore, that name variations would plague his research.

What I learned in listening to David’s lecture on “Overcoming Spelling Problems and Unlocking the Power of Names” was that he has made lemonade from these lemons.

  • He developed comprehensive search strategies, targeting each method to the query tool he is using, whether Google or Ancestry or FamilySearch.
  • He focuses on communities where those names occur, creating his own one-name databases, or investigating clusters of pairs of names, in order to find the most likely localities to research.
  • He sees many naming traditions in different ethnic communities as hints for research strategies.

I enjoyed hearing David’s positive thinking in the face of transcription errors, intercultural spelling alterations, and other challenges. The lecture left me energized to target the difficult-to-research people once again.

This session has been recorded. During the conference you can buy it from the JAMB-INC booth in the main conference hall. After the conference, it will be available online at This is session T241 under the heading 2013 NGS Conference/Las Vegas, NV.

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