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Russell Soundex Coding 

This system is used for indexing court house records, mostly the deeds and wills, in the majority of courthouses in Pennsylvania. All of the systems used vary slightly from one county to another, depending on the size of the county and the number of records. Instructions are usually found on the inside cover of the record books.

Arrangement of Books

The index books are arranged on the shelves, alphabetically, by the first letter of the surname. This letter or sometimes several letters will be found on each volume. Occasionally there is more than one volume for a letter, in which case there will be a second letter indicating the first letter of the given name. In some counties there will be several sets of books covering different time periods.

Using the Russell Index System at the Beaver County Courthouse:

  1. Determine which time period you are researching, and find the section of index books for those years. (In the case of Land records you must also determine whether to search in the the "Grantee" or "Grantor" Index.)
  2. Select the Index book by the first letter of your surname.
  3. Determine the "Key Letter" of your Surname. To do this, start with the second letter of the surname, and find the first occurrence of one of the Key letters, (L, M, N, R, T, or Misc. for surnames not having one of these letters.)
  4. Determine where to look for a particular individual. Take the first letter of the individuals given name, and look in the column on the chart with the heading "Given Name Initials." Where the column intersect with your "Key Letter," is the page in the index book where this name will appear (if there is a reference to be found).
Note: To find all occurrences of a surname, you will have to search in all the sections for all of the numbers listed in the "Key Letter" column. 

Example: To determine if "Samuel Jones" sold land in 1858. 

  1. Look for the first occurrence of one of the "Key Letters" in the surname, which for the surname "Jones" is the letter "n."
  2. Using the chart, now look in the "Given Name Initials" row, and start with "S" since the given name is Samuel.
  3. Find that where the "S" for the "Given Name Initials," and the "n" for my "Key Letter" intersect is "Section 153."
  4. If there is a reference to be found, it will be in the "J" Grantor Index book, for the years 1800-1919, in section 153.
Key Letters and Section Numbers
l m n r t Misc.
A 11 12 13 14 15 16
B 21 22 23 24 25 26
C 31 32 33 34 35 36
D 41 42 43 44 45 46
E 51 52 53 54 55 56
F 61 62 63 64 65 66
G 71 72 73 74 75 76
H I 81 82 83 84 85 86
J 91 92 93 94 95 96
K L 101 102 103 104 105 106
M 111 112 113 114 114 116
N O 121 122 123 124 125 126
P Q 131 132 133 134 135 136
R 141 142 143 144 145 146
S 151 152 153 154 155 156
T U V 161 162 163 164 165 166
W X Y Z 171 172 173 174 175 176
Corp., Etc. 181 182 183 184 185 186


Clint, Florence, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, Area Key - A guide to genealogical records of Beaver County, Pennsylvania including maps, histories, charts, and other helpful materials. (1974)

See Also:

Eackle, Arlene and Cerny, Johni The Source, A Guidebook of American Genealogy

Mokotoff, Gary Soundexing and Genealogy Available at Avotaynu, Inc. Website August 1998.

This page was last updated on Thursday, 22-May-2008 11:48:48 MDT
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