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How to Search the Lithuania Given Names Database

There are two ways to search the Lithuania Given Names Database (GNDB):

  • Global Text Search of all fields, excluding delimiters
  • Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex

Each search method has different features. Generally speaking, you will want to do a number of related searches for each given name to insure you have found everything relevant in the database. The following explains more about how the data is organized and each search method so that you can develop an appropriate search strategy.

Example Data:

This example shows the fifteen fields in the Lithuania record for the Hebrew name Yehuda Leyb:

Gender: M
Legal/Hebrew Name: Yehuda haMechune Leyb\Leyba
Origin: Genesis 29:35
Yiddish Names: Ihuda/Yehida/Yehuda//Leb/Leyb
Yiddish Nicknames: Yidele/Yidl/Yodka/Yuda/Yude/Yudka/Yudl/Yudya/Yutka/Yutke/ Lebus/Lev/Levik/Levke/Levko/Levon/Leyba/Leybl/Leybela/ Leybele/Leybish/Leybka/Leybke/Leybush/Liba/Libe/Libele/Liva
Origin: Leb from Yiddish/German "lion"
Secular Names: Leo/Lyuba/Yulyus
Secular Nicknames:  
Origin:  
US Names: Isidore/Judah/Julius/Yidel//Leo/Leon/Leonard/Louis
US Nicknames: Sol
UK Names: Julius//Lewis/Louis
UK Nicknames:  
South Africa Names: Alfred/Israel/Judah/Julius/Levi/Louis//Leo/Leopold/Lewis
South Africa Nicknames: Udie

There are different types of fields in the database. The Name-Only Fields, like Yiddish Names, contain name variants delimited by a “/”. There are also free form Text Fields like Origin.

Search Features:

  1. Global Text Search looks for a string of text no matter where it appears in the database without regard to delimiters, and it does this for all fields – Name-Only and Text Fields.

    Global Text Search allows for the use of logical constructs like “AND” or “OR”. For example, if you search for “Moshe OR Alter” or “Alter OR Moshe” with Global Text Search, you will get the same seven results in both cases – two Alters, three Moshes, and an additional two Moshes found in text fields. In short, the search engine seeks the two names regardless of the fields they are found in.

    Global Text Search supports the wildcard “*” so that you can do searches on strings of three or more exact characters plus any variant thereafter. For example, consider the Yiddish name NOTL, as it is transcribed using the YIVO standard, but which you think could be Notel or Nottel or Notell. If you try "Notel", "Nottel", or "Notell" using Global Text Search in the Lithuania GNDB,you will find no hits because these spellings do not exist in the database. But if you try "Not*", you will find six hits --five for the Hebrew name Nasan (for which Notl is a kinui and one for the Legal/Hebrew name Note (for which Notl is a kinui).

  2. Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex (D-M Search) will find names which “sound like” the name which you have entered based on the D-M Soundex Code. D-M Search only works on the Names-Only Fields and does not search Text Fields. On the one hand, a D-M search can help overcome your lack of knowledge of the "correct" spelling of a name or how it might be spelled in the database using the GNDB standard. On the other hand, it may find lots of names in which you are not interested. DM Soundexing sometimes produces two different codes for one given name.

    The only possible modification with the D-M Search is the use of square brackets [ ] to require specific characters while letting others vary based on the soundex. For example, in the Lithuania GNDB, searching on "Moshe" will lead to 29 records retrieved, but using [Mo]she to search will yield only 16 records -- you are limiting the search to only those hits which begin with the exact letters "Mo", but which have the desired DM Soundex code for Moshe. You should experiment with this scheme and learn its advantages and limitations.

Search Strategies:

  1. For the case where you know one or two Yiddish names and want to find all the other Yiddish, Hebrew and European secular names which were linked to your one or two, the best initial approach is probably to use option Global Text Searching with the first few letters of the name, along with the asterisk, e.g., "Not*". However, it might be worthwhile to back this up with a second trial in which your input is "[Not]l" using the D-M Soundex Search. After trying the last one using the Lithuania GNDB, you might also have a go at the input "Notl" using D-M Soundex Search.

    The above case is probably the most popular use of the GNDBs. In general, a combination of the search options above would work the best and minimize the possibility of missing names of which you should be aware, but some of these trials may give you lots of false positives.

  2. For the case where you want to enter an English vernacular name (for US, UK, SA), e.g. Morris, Global Text Search would give twenty hits for the Lithuania GNDB. However, D-M Soundex Search with input Morris would yield 29 hits because it finds a number of names of females that have the same D-M Soundex as Morris.In general, for English vernacular names, D-M Soundex Search is NOT a good choice because it was not set up for English names and does not work well with them.

    Entering foreign vernacular names is useful when you want to find all of the possible vernacular names an immigrant might have used, or you are looking for all the Hebrew, Yiddish and European secular names from which the vernacular name might have come -- this could turn out to be a large number of possibilities because many different European Jewish names were translated into the same English vernacular foreign name.

Click here to search the Lithuania Given Names Database.