JewishGen Home Page

Soundex Coding

NARA and Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex

NARA (Russell) Soundex
Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex

With Soundex, the “sound” of names — the phonetic sound to be exact — is coded.  This is of great help, since it avoids most problems of misspellings or alternate spellings.

For example: Scherman, Schurman, Sherman and Shireman and Shurman are indexed together as NARA Soundex Code "S655".  Surname soundex indexing is not alphabetical, but is listed by the letter-and-number code.  If several surnames have the same code, their index cards are arranged alphabetically by given name.  Example: S655 Arthur, S655 Betsy, S655 Charles.

To convert names to Soundex codes, use JewishGen's JOS Calculator... or you can manually encode a name using the following instructions and charts:

I.   Russell (NARA) Soundex Coding

The Russell Soundex system is used by many indexes at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, including indexes to Census Records, Passenger Lists, and Naturalization Records.

In the 1930s, the Work Projects Administration (WPA) did a complete Soundex index of the 1880, 1900, 1910 (partial), 1920, and 1930 (partial) censuses (for details, see the Census section of the JewishGen FAQ).  The census information was copied onto file cards, alphabetically coded, and filed by state.

NARA Soundex coding rules:

  1. Coding consists of a letter followed by three numerals.  Examples: L123, C472, S160.
  2. The first letter of a surname is not coded, it is retained as the initial letter.
  3. A, E, I, O, U, Y, W, and H are not coded.
  4. Double letters are coded as one letter (as in Lloyd).
  5. Prefixes to surnames like "van", "Von", "Di", "de", "le", "D", "dela" or "du" are sometimes disregarded in coding.
  6. Code the following letters to three digits, using 0 at the end if needed.

Letter Code
B P F V 1
C S K G J Q X Z 2
D T 3
L 4
M N 5
R 6

For additional Russell soundex information see The Source, A Guidebook of American Genealogy, by Arlene Eackle and Johni Cerny.


II.   Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex Coding

The Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System was created by Randy Daitch and Gary Mokotoff of the Jewish Genealogical Society (New York), because they concluded the system developed by Robert Russell in 1918 in use today by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) does not apply well to many Slavic and Yiddish surnames.  Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex also includes refinements that are independent of ethnic considerations.  The rules for converting surnames into D-M Code numbers are listed below.  They are followed by the coding chart.

  1. Names are coded to six digits, each digit representing a sound listed in the coding chart (below).
  2. When a name lacks enough coded sounds for six digits, use zeros to fill to six digits. GOLDEN which has only four coded sounds [G-L-D-N] is coded as 583600.
  3. The letters A, E, I, O, U, J, and Y are always coded at the beginning of a name as in Alpert 087930. In any other situation, they are ignored except when two of them form a pair and the pair comes before a vowel, as in Breuer 791900 but not Freud.
  4. The letter H is coded at the beginning of a name, as in Haber 579000, or preceding a vowel, as in Manheim 665600, otherwise it is not coded.
  5. When adjacent sounds can combine to form a larger sound, they are given the code number of the larger sound.  Mintz which is not coded MIN-T-Z but MIN-TZ 664000.
  6. When adjacent letters have the same code number, they are coded as one sound, as in TOPF, which is not coded TO-P-F 377000 but TO-PF 370000.  Exceptions to this rule are the letter combinations MN and NM, whose letters are coded separately, as in Kleinman, which is coded 586660 not 586600.
  7. When a surname consists or more than one word, it is coded as if one word, such as "Ben Aron", which is treated as "Benaron".
  8. Several letter and letter combinations pose the problem that they may sound in one of two ways.  The letter and letter combinations CH, CK, C, J, and RS are assigned two possible code numbers.

The Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex Coding Chart

Letter Alternate
Spelling
Start of
a name
Before
a vowel
Any other
situation
NC = not coded
AI AJ, AY 0 1 NC
AU   0 7 NC
Ą (Polish a-ogonek) NC NC 6 or NC
A   0 NC NC
B   7 7 7
CHS   5 54 54
CH Try KH (5) and TCH (4)
CK Try K (5) and TSK (45)
CZ CS, CSZ, CZS 4 4 4
C Try K (5) and TZ (4)
DRZ DRS 4 4 4
DS DSH, DSZ 4 4 4
DZ DZH, DZS 4 4 4
D DT 3 3 3
EI EJ, EY 0 1 NC
EU   1 1 NC
Ę (Polish e-ogonek) NC NC 6 or NC
E   0 NC NC
FB   7 7 7
F   7 7 7
G   5 5 5
H   5 5 NC
IA IE, IO, IU 1 NC NC
I   0 NC NC
J Try Y (1) and DZH (4)
KS   5 54 54
KH   5 5 5
K   5 5 5
L   8 8 8
MN     66 66
M   6 6 6
NM     66 66
N   6 6 6
OI OJ, OY 0 1 NC
O   0 NC NC
P PF, PH 7 7 7
Q   5 5 5
RZ, RS Try RTZ (94) and ZH (4)
R   9 9 9
SCHTSCH SCHTSH, SCHTCH 2 4 4
SCH   4 4 4
SHTCH SHCH, SHTSH 2 4 4
SHT SCHT, SCHD 2 43 43
SH   4 4 4
STCH STSCH, SC 2 4 4
STRZ STRS, STSH 2 4 4
ST   2 43 43
SZCZ SZCS 2 4 4
SZT SHD, SZD, SD 2 43 43
SZ   4 4 4
S   4 4 4
TCH TTCH, TTSCH 4 4 4
TH   3 3 3
TRZ TRS 4 4 4
TSCH TSH 4 4 4
TS TTS, TTSZ, TC 4 4 4
TZ TTZ, TZS, TSZ 4 4 4
Ţ (Romanian t-cedilla) 3 or 4 3 or 4 3 or 4
T   3 3 3
UI UJ, UY 0 1 NC
U UE 0 NC NC
V   7 7 7
W   7 7 7
X   5 54 54
Y   1 NC NC
ZDZ ZDZH, ZHDZH 2 4 4
ZD ZHD 2 43 43
ZH ZS, ZSCH, ZSH 4 4 4
Z   4 4 4
Letter Alternate
Spelling
Start of
a name
Before
a vowel
Any other
situation

Examples of Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex Coding:

AUERBACH = 097500

AUERBACH 
0NC97NC5Pad
0 97 500

OHRBACH = 097500

OHRBACH 
0NC97NC5Pad
0 97 500

LIPSHITZ = 874400

LIPSHITZ 
8NC74NC4Pad
8 74 400

LIPPSZYC = 874400

LIPPSZYC 
8NC7NC4NC4Pad
8 7 4 400

LEWINSKY = 876450

LEWINSKY 
8NC7NC645NCPad
8 7 645 0

LEVINSKI = 876450

LEVINSKI 
8NC7NC645NCPad
8 7 645 0

SZLAMAWICZ = 486740

SZLAMAWICZ 
48NC6NC7NC4Pad
48 6 7 40

SHLAMOVITZ = 486740

SHLAMOVITZ 
48NC6NC7NC4Pad
48 6 7 40

For additional Daitch-Mokotoff soundex information, see Where Once We Walked by Gary Mokotoff and Sallyann Amdur Sack (Avotaynu, 2002), pages 567-569;  or http://www.avotaynu.com/soundex.html.

To convert names to their corresponding Soundex codes, use JewishGen's JOS Calculator.


JewishGen InfoFile Index JewishGen Home Page
Edmond J. Safra Plaza | 36 Battery Place | New York, NY 10280
646.437.4326 | info@jewishgen.org | © 2014, JewishGen. All rights reserved.