Tom Kemp, Director of Genealogy Products

Genealogist Q&A

Whether you're a seasoned genealogy pro or just getting started, our Q&A answers the most commonly-asked family history research questions.

Have a question about or hit a brick wall in your family history research? Tom Kemp, Director of Genealogy Products, internationally known librarian, archivist and published author with over 50 years of genealogy experience, provides expert answers to the most commonly-asked genealogy questions in our informative Genealogist Q&A and our complimentary guide "Getting Started Climbing Your Family Tree."

To begin, click on the genealogy question links below to view the answers. Also, download our free Search Tips Guide.

In Sweden his name was Lars Fredrik Pettersson - but he changed the spelling of his name in the US. What do I do now?

A: It is common for immigrants coming from other heritages to standardize the spelling of their names.


In this case: Lars Fredrik Pettersson .... you will want to search indexes for all of the spelling options for his name.

Fredrik: Could be spelled Frederick or even the short form: Fred
Pettersson: Could be spelled several ways: Petterson; Peterson; Pederson; Petersen; etc.

His complete name might have been written as:
L.F. Peterson
Lars F. Peterson
Lars Peterson
Frederick Peterson
Fred Peterson
Fred L. Peterson

Genealogists learn through trial and error the various ways that individuals and record keepers might have spelled their names.

Keep this in mind when you search newspapers.

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