Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Watchdog Wednesday with Genealogy Bank in Cincinnati

[A series dedicated to keeping up with the quirks of the indispensable big indexing companies, and suggesting workarounds or even actual changes to deal with them...]

Late last month I searched for a man who might well have been mentioned in a Cincinnati newspaper during 1856. I examined the list of six Cincinnati newspapers at Genealogy Bank's Historical Newspapers, and found two with the right coverage -- "Cincinnati Daily Gazette (1835-1883)" and the "Whig (1802-1882)." (Since the coverage varies between the library subscription and the individual subscription, I'm not sure you'll find the same listings on the library version.)

No results for his surname, no results for common surnames, and no results when I left all the search terms blank and hit the search key. I had been prepared not to find him, but I had not been prepared to find nobody at all. Hmmm...

Eventually I found that a blank search on these two papers for the years 1845-1866 yielded 77 hits, and a blank search for the years 1846-1867 yielded 29,074 hits. But a blank search of 1846-1866 yielded -- nothing.

Am I doing something wrong? Or is GenealogyBank claiming to index 20 years' worth of two newspapers when they don't have a single issue up?

I posted the above on a mailing list earlier, and received two helpful suggestions but no answers to the main question. The Library of Congress's newspaper directory suggests that GB may suffer in part from a typo problem, as there doesn't seem to be any Whig paper of those dates in Cincinnati (and in fact since the Whig Party disintegrated in the 1850s we shouldn't expect there to be one).

Meanwhile, it looks like I should follow this trail the old-fashioned way: my Indiana State Library appears to have relevant issues of the Cincinnati Daily Gazette, and their account of what they hold appears to be much more specific, showing the gaps.

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