Researching Gfhd? Google can help

September 6th, 2006

Google newsWhat does everyone do when there’s a new search service? They do an “ego search”. I was surprised at how many hits the new Google News Archive service found for my surname, which is relatively uncommon. Here’s the snippet from an article from the August 10, 1843 edition of The Ohio Repository:

The Ohio Repository (Newspaper) – August 10, 1843, Canton, Ohio
Subscription – Ohio Repository – NewspaperArchive – Aug 10, 1843
… 111 in lli u is di us pd fiom the iliingp ol ilio Ihc second hfi ih it hiiisls ftuth m spnno m Oh nppiiintlj do id, ind finin iht shidnss- IOE; foi lli, …
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I didn’t even know I had ancestors in Ohio! If I weren’t so cheap I’d buy access to the article to see what they were up to. I hope it didn’t involve an arrest.

It seems like many of the documents in news archives were scanned poorly and are unusable. I tried entering a query consisting of a random, meaningless four-letter sequence, GFHD, and got eleven results, like this one:

The Fitchburg Sentinel (Newspaper) – July 3, 1901, Fitchburg …
Subscription – Fitchburg Sentinel – NewspaperArchive – Jul 3, 1901
F. MarrUm has an oflioe at tbe GfHd 09 tht tHutilttit oamp jwd will twtt if Urar if. Run u4 famtly of IterjtN IMMjJIfc BRAVING SPION KOP. …
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This isn’t Google’s fault, of course. But, I wonder what fraction of the scanned in content from newspapers and magazines is unusable because of poor quality scanning? I suspect that smaller collections are more likely to suffer from this problem. Will their content owners be motivated to go back and rescan their collections? Maybe easy search services like Google’s will make it worth their while to do so.