Shown below is the "Soundex" system used to group names that have the same or a similar pronunciation but may have variant spellings. The "Soundex" system is a combination of the first letter of the last name of a person and a three digit numeric code for the consonants (excluding h, w, and y) in the next few letters of the person's surname.

Soundex Coding Guide

Do NOT code these letters: a, e, h, i, o, u, w, y

To work out the "Soundex" code for a particular name (using "Kuhne" as an example), begin with the first letter of the last name (K), skip over the letter "u" because it is a vowel and the letter "h" because it is not coded, use the number "5" in place of the letter "n", and skip over the "e" because it is a vowel. Every "Soundex" code must be a three-digit number. If, as is the case with the name "Kuhne" there is only a letter followed by one digit, add two zeros to complete the code (Kuhne= K-500). If a name contains double letters or two letters next to each other that fall within the same equivalent grouping, use the code number once and follow it with a zero. For example, for a name like "Hammerschmidt", the code would be "H-506" ("H" is the first letter of the surname, the "a" is ignored because it is a vowel, only the first "m" of the pair is coded with a number "5", a zero is substituted for the second "m", the "e" is skipped over because it is a vowel, and the "r" is coded as the number "6"). Once you have three digits in the code, STOP.


If several surnames have the same code, they are arranged alphabetically by given name.

Prefixes to surnames such as "van", "Von", "Di", "de", "le", "D" and others are sometimes disregarded in alphabetizing and coding.

Request Soundex indexes on microfilm by asking for:

Sources For Renting Microfilm:

Libraries act as intermediaries in renting federal census microfilm for patrons from the:

Census Microfilm Rental Program
P.O. 2940
Hyattsville, MD 20784
(301) 604-3699

Microfilm is rented to libraries for a thirty-day period at a cost of $3 per roll for 1-4 rolls, $2.50 per roll for 5-9 rolls, and $2 per roll for ten or more rolls. Return postage is not included in the rental cost. Prices are subject to change Microfilm order numbers are obtained from catalogs published by the National Archives: FEDERAL POPULATION CENSUSES 1790-1890, 1900 FEDERAL POPULATION CENSUS, and 1910 FEDERAL POPULATION CENSUS.

A source of federal census, selected state census, military and ship passenger lists, vital records, family and county histories, and other information of interest to genealogists that patrons can access directly or through libraries is the:

American Genealogical Lending Library
P.O. Box 244, Dept. M
Bountiful, UT 84010
(801) 298-5358

Microfilm can be rented directly by patrons who have paid a first-year membership fee of $45 or indirectly through a library - the membership fee is waived for libraries. The rental cost is $2.50 per roll for 1-9 rolls or $2 for ten or more rolls. An additional postage and handling charge of $1 for orders of $10 or less and $2 for orders between $10-$25 is assessed for outgoing orders. Return postage is not included in this. Microfilm can be kept for one month. Special catalogs are needed to identify the correct order numbers for rolls of microfilm. Prices are subject to change.

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This page was updated December 8, 2003.