Yesterday an experienced registry user asked for help finding a document from the Department of Veterans Affairs. He knew the document existed (he even had the book and page number) but he wasn't able to find it by doing a name search in our computerized index. Since the adoption of the Massachusetts Deed Indexing Standards back on January 1, 2000 (click here to see the indexing standards), that name should appear in the index as "USA Veterans Affairs." Prior to the adoption of the indexing standards, it's much more difficult to predict how that name would have been indexed. In our index, we have a 1999 entry of "Veterans Affairs Secretary of" and a 1999 entry of "Veterans Administration." Back in 1988, a document was indexed two ways: "Secretary Department of Veterans Affairs" and "United States of America Department of Veterans Affairs." This all might seem a little boring to those of you who don't make a living doing run downs at the registry of deeds, but for those of you that do, this is the kind of thing that might keep you awake at night. For the latter group, I have some suggestions. Become very familiar with the Deed Indexing Standards. If you spend a lot of time at a particular registry, try to determine if that registry follows the indexing standards. If the registry doesn't, bring it to someone's attention. For index entries prior to 2000, try to discover how the registry indexed certain names back then. Unfortunately, no one that I know of kept very good records of how indexing was done historically and it usually differed from registry to registry (sometimes it was even different within the same registry). Make maximum use of the search capabilities of the computer system. Specifically, our computer searches for what you've typed plus anything else that begins with the letters you've typed. So if you just type "USA" you'll get every possible combination of names that begins with the letters "USA." If the search returns too many results, then you can narrow your search. When searching, always remember, start with a broad search - you can always narrow it if necessary.