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The soundex index system is a method of encoding names so that similar
sounding, but differently spelled names will have the same code. Names like
Smith, and Smythe have the same code. The 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920
censuses are indexed using soundex

The soundex algorithm:

The soundex code consists of the first letter of the surname, followed by
three digits. The digits are based on the consonants as in the following table:

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

The vowels are not used. If two or more adjacent (not separated by a
vowel) letters have the same numeric value, only one is used. This also
applies if the first (which is used for the letter in the code), and the
second letter in name have the same value; the second letter would not be
used to generate a digit. If there are not three digits after the consonants
are convert, the code is filled out with zeros. The name Lee has no
consonants after the L, so the soundex code would be L000.

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