S1. How does this gray one-step search form differ from your original white one-step search form?
My white one-step search form is based on the search engine provided by the Ellis Island website. And that search engine has its limitations. Specifically it does not permit you to search by town name and does not permit you to do a soundex search (i.e., search for names that sound like the name you want). The best you can do is a simulated search-by-town using the advanced search option on my white search form and a simulated soundex search using Edward Rosenbaum's Name Permutations program.
To get around these limitations, we have set up an alternate search engine that provides a true search-by-town capability and a true soundex-search capability. The results generated by the alternate search engine are pointers directly into the Ellis Island database for the passengers you find.
This gray one-step search form uses the alternate search engine whereas the original white one-step search form goes directly to the Ellis Island search engine. It should be mentioned that there are certain things that the Ellis Island search engine provides that the alternate one does not. Namely the ability to search by ship, port, ethnicity, and gender. So this gray one-step form does not obsolete the white one, and you might find it beneficial to switch back and forth between the two when looking for passengers.
See also the overview page for a discussion
of the differences between the white form, the
form, and the gray form.
S2. Must I be running a Netscape browser on a PC in order to use the search-by-town feature?
That was true for my simulated search-by-town
facility on the white one-step form. But the true search-by-town
available through this gray one-step form does not have any limitations.
You can use it from the Internet Explorer browser, from a Macintosh computer,
and even from the Netscape 6 browser without having to do anything special.
S3. What exactly is a soundex search and doesn't the Ellis Island database have something similar?
There are several soundex systems and basically they involve the use of a list of names that are phonetically equivalent to the one you are interested in. A soundex search would return all names that exactly match the desired name as well as those that match any of the phonetically equivalents. Currently the Ellis Island search engine does not do a soundex search. However it does have the ability to generate a list of phonetic equivalents for you. According to Gary Mokotoff (co-developer of the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex code), this list is probably better than one based solely on soundex. However the Ellis Island search engine does not search on these equivalents for you automatically -- instead it gives you the ability to select equivalents (up to two at a time) and search on them.
In contrast, our alternate search engine does
a true soundex search. You enter one name on the gray search form
and it will find all names that are phonetically equivalent. It uses
the Daitch-Mokotoff soundex code which was developed specifically for dealing
with Eastern European names.
S4. Is it now possible to do a search to find all people who came from my grandparents' little village?
Yes it is!
S5. How can I generate a nice composite list of the matches that I found?
All too often people attempt to combine the final result into a spreadsheet,
and for the life of me I can't understand why. There are much better
ways to present such data. The best in my opinion would be in html
itself, which is the native language of the web. But this is not
for the novice, so the details are not presented here. If you are
interested, you can find the details at http://stevemorse.org/ellis/advanced.html.
S6. How can I import the list of matches that I obtain into a spreadsheet?
Again this fascination with spreadsheets! See my response to question S5 for my view on this subject.
However there are some valid reasons for wanting spreadsheets, especially when column sorting is important. For that purpose I have recently standardized the output displays from the gray form, the blue, form and the new-format display of the white form so that they can be mixed together on one spreadsheet. Detailed and clearly written instructions for creating such a spreadsheet are given by Shawn Weil on his webpage at
http://www.tangerinecrafts.com/Personal/genealogy/EIDB_Spreadsheet.htm.I highly recommend this to anyone serious about creating a spreadsheet of the Ellis Island search results.
S7. How did you finally succeed in making the searches be so fast?
By putting a help-wanted announcement on the website asking for people
experienced with database software. Two extremely competent people,
Nick Yannucci and David Bendory, answered the plea. Together with
Erik Steinmetz, they have performed (and continue to perform) miracles
in improving the search performance.
S8. I sometimes get a message saying that my search request has been given low priority because I am not accepting cookies. What is that all about?
When analyzing our performance problems, we discovered that the server was being overloaded because it was simultaneously working on the identical request that was submitted multiple times. That occurs when a user submits a time-consuming request and then gets tired of waiting for the results. So he hits escape and then resubmits the same request. Although hitting escape aborts the request on the user's browser, it does not stop our server which is actively working on obtaining the results. So the server is spending a lot of time performing searches that the user has abandonded, and this degrades the performance for all the other users who are patiently waiting for their results.
To overcome this problem, we decided to tag each user with a cookie. That way we can determine if a user has submitted a request while we are still in the process of obtaining results for one of his previous requests. If that happens, we simply abort the previous search on the server.
We do the following when we get a search request from a user that has cookies disabled. We check to see if there are any searches in progress from any other user who has cookies disabled. If so, there is a possibility that it could be the same user. However we can't be sure, so it would be wrong for us to abort the previous request. In this case we reject the current request instead, and give a message explaining why we did so. That is the message that you saw.
See question S11 for details on enabling cookies.
S9. Why do I get a match on "Passaic, New Jersey" when I search for all towns sounding like Nowy Sacz? They don't sound alike.
The comparison method that we use is to treat each word in the
town name separately. So we look for any matches having a word in
the town name sounding like Nowy or any sounding like Sacz.
Unfortunately the New in New Jersey sounds like the Nowy
in Nowy Sacz. There are tricks that we could have used to
eliminate such false positives, but they might eliminate some true matches
S10. Each time I click on the search button, all it does is reload the search form. Why can't I get the search results?
If you are making the search request from our search form but have cookies disabled, we will mistakenly assume that you are coming from an external site and redirect you back to our search form. Since that is the symptom you described, it means that you have cookies disabled.
See question S11 to find out how to enable cookies.
S11. How do I enable cookies?
I presume you've run into the problem described in S8 or in S10 and now want to enable your cookies. The way you do that depends on the browser you are using. Below are the instructions for the popular browsers.
Also try clearing your cache (see question 109 on the white-form's faq page). Clearing the cache should have nothing to do with the cookies. But at least one user was getting the message saying that he needed to enable cookies and he indeed had cookies enabled. When he cleared is cache, the message stopped occurring.
Netscape Version 4.x
From the Edit menu select Preferences.Netscape Version 6.x or 7.x
Click on the Advanced line on the left-hand side.
On the right-hand side make sure that "Accept all cookies" is checked.
Click OK to exit from the preferences box.
First you need to make sure that you are accepting cookies. You do that as follows:Internet ExplorerFrom the Edit menu select Preferences.In addition, you need to make sure that you have not explicitly blocked coookies from jewishgen. You can determine that as follows
Click on the Privacy and Security line and then on Cookies on the left-hand side.
On the right-hand side make sure that "Enable all cookies" is checked.
Click OK to exit from the preferences box.From the tools menu select "Cookie Manger" and then "Manage Stored Cookies".
Click on the "Cookie Sites" tab.
See if jewishgen is on that list and tagged as not being able to set cookies. If so, select it and press "Remove Site".
Click OK to exit from the preferences box.
Click on the "Privacy" tab.
Make sure the slider is not set to "Block" or to "High". Any other setting would be fine.Click on the "Edit" button.Furthermore you need to make sure that you have not explicitly blocked cookies from jewishgen. You can determine that as follows
Enter the following in the "Address of Web site" field:
Press the "Allow" button and then press the "OK" button.
Click OK to exit from the Edit box.Click on the "Edit" button.Finally click OK to exit from the "Internet Options" box.
See if there is an entry for jewishgen indicating that it is blocked. If so, select it and press Remove.
Click OK to exit from the Edit box.
-- Steve Morse