Searching by Initials

I have tagged this message both as a feature request and as a tip.

The tip is that you can search men by their initials and you can search women by initials if you search by their maiden name. Actually, you can’t search that way using Search but you can search that way by filtering the Index sidebar or the People List view. For example, I can I can search for everybody named Bryan, W. H. no matter what their first name and middle name actually are by filtering as follows and where the % character serves as a wildcard in the filter.

bryan, w% h%

But I haven’t been able to find a way to do the same thing for a woman’s married name. In the first place, filtering doesn’t work for a woman’s married name. In the second place, Search supports searching for a woman’s married name but does not support the % character as a wildcard. So my wish is for there to be a way to search or filter for woman by her initials and her married name.

I do realize that I could solve the problem by adding an alternate name for every married women that includes her married name, but I don’t find that to be an acceptable solution.

RM9.0.5.0 and Windows 10.


Wildcard searching is not available on the Search page. I have reported the request to development to see if can be supported. In the search boxes on the People page you will need an alternate name fact with alternate names enabled to find them.

I’m interested,
do you assume that “a woman’s married name” is that of her husband’s?
And do you want software to make that assumption?

Thanks Jerry for the reminder about wildcard searching.

quick testing shows that the search modifier characters " _ % work in
People index
Places list
Sources list

Do not work in
Media list

I really don’t make those kinds of assumptions. For the most part, I go by the dictum that a woman’s name in genealogy is her birth name. I’m simply talking about being able to do searches when a woman’s surname in a record might be a husband’s surname.

Here’s a real example. I have a 1910 birth certificate for Fred Bryan which lists his parents as Silas Bryan and Mandy Slaton. This is just normal stuff and I already knew who Silas Bryan and Mandy Slaton were long before I ran across the Fred Bryan birth certificate. Silas was the brother of my great grandfather Harley Bryan. Mandy was a little more distant relative, But I do have Slaton ancestors and I spend a great deal of time researching the Slaton family. There were lots of marriages between Bryans and Slatons. The more interesting tidbit was that the midwife listed on the birth certificate was F. M. Slaton. Who on earth was F. M. Slaton?

The birth was in Sevier County, Tennessee. By the time I ran across the 1910 birth certificate for Fred Bryan, I surely had identified all the Slatons in Sevier County and all even remotely neighboring counties and had entered them into my database. But an exhaustive search of my database turned up no women who could have been F. M. Slaton.

The exhaustive search was also exhausting. I obviously looked for women whose birth name was Slaton and whose initials might have been F. M. or M. F. because first and middle names do get reversed from time to time. I also looked for women who married a Slaton and whose initials might have been F. M. or M. F.

I also looked for women such as Florence Miller who might have married a Slaton because married women often use their birth surname as a middle name after marriage. My mother and all three of her sisters did that. And to make it more confusing, all four of the sisters were middle name people. After marriage, their middle name became their first name and their birth surname became their middle name. So Eva Lucille Peters became Lucille Peters Wright after she married Audie Wright. And this was not just a casual usage. It was a legal usage - voter registration, driver’s license, social security card, etc. These sorts of common situations can make searching for women’s names very difficult.

My point being that my search really was exhaustive - taking all these kinds of things into account. And my search was exhausting because it’s not easy or sometimes even possible to do the needed searches from within RM other genealogy software. So most of my searching was really very manual, looking through all the Slatons in my database by hand. RM9 does make the situation much better, but I did this exhaustive search even before RM4.

Just to complete the story, I finally concluded that the midwife must have been Mandy Slaton’s father Frances Marion (Frank) Slaton who had many records which listed him as F. M. Slaton or Frank M. Slaton. I was suspicious of that possibility from the beginning, but I was reluctant to come to that conclusion without first exhausting all the other possibilities. The RM connection is that search by initials is important, and search for women by the surname of their husband is important. It seems that RM9 allows you to search by a woman’s initials or to search by the surname of a woman’s husband, but not both at the same time.

“Search supports searching for a woman’s married name”
How do you do this search?

Go to Search, Person Search and enter the given and married surname for the person.