19 November 2008

OCR Searches of Ancestry.com's City Directories

The city directories on Ancestry.com.are not like the older ones were. This is easier to notice when you search for names instead of browsing through the towns individually as I originally did.

The first screen shot shown in this post comes from the results when I searched on the last name Mortier.

I found several references I already had and some new ones.

One struck my interest. It was for Mrs. Louisa Mortier. In viewing the entry, I had to be careful and look beyond her name.

The temptation might be to just copy that one name and leave it at that. At least in this image, I do have enough of the source to see where the information was obtained (look at the "crumbline" in the upper part of the screen.

What is missing in this entry is who these people are---what their occupation or business is. Any entry must be viewed in context.

Resizing things just a little, we can see that Mrs. Mortier appears in the lists of Boarding Houses. The one thing I did not originally make a note of was whether her boarding house was in Rock Island or in Moline. In directories that combine more than one location in a book, but separate the entries by city, this is important. I should somehow notate that this list is for Rock Island. The directory contains all the Rock Island entries then contains all the Moline entries.

My search results did not find August in the same year. I wondered why this was. To the best of my knowledge he did not return to Belgium, but anything is possible.

I decided to perform a manual search of the directory for August and was not disappointed.

When I looked at the page for the Mortiers, I realized why their names probably were not returned when I searched. There is a black line running down the page. There is a reasonable chance this interfered with the OCR scan of the text.

August is Louisa's husband and Kamiel is his brother. Other records had not indicated she had operated a boarding house, not even the census. I learned a little more than I expected, after all I was just looking for examples to illustrate a blog entry.

The city directories at Ancestry.com can be searched here.

No comments: