Index Free Or Die!

They sometimes do things differently in New Hampshire- here’s an example. I recently requested a microfilm of Death Certificates from the State of New Hampshire, for the period that included the deaths of Daniel, Mary Alice, and Carl Dunn. The certificates are stored alphabetically, and the LDS catalog listing showed ranges of names- I selected “Day, J.-Emerson”, which you would think would include “Dunn, D.”, wouldn’t you?

I certainly did. So I was very surprised when, winding my way through the film, I started seeing a whole bunch of Dwyers. Thinking I’d zipped past the Dunns, I rewound the film. No Dunns. I scrolled forward, and shortly after the Dwyers and Drzinkas ended, started seeing Evanses.  

That’s when I reread the fine print at the beginning of the microfilm, and learned that in New Hampshire at least, alphabetical order means using the first and third letters of the surname! If I had looked more closely at the index at I would have seen that- the entry preceding “Day, J.-Emerson” is “Dewhurst, J.-Day, J.”- which only makes sense if you use the unique New Hamphire indexing style.

Which leaves me with one little problem- how do you break the tie when two names have the same combination of first and third letters? There are two films that should have the Dunn certificates- but is it “Demers, K.-Dinsmore, J.” (alphebetizing on the fourth letter) or “Dinsmore, J.-Dion, J.” (using the second letter)?