OCR Confusion Damages the DeMosses

I realize that OCR searches are problematic, but this seems a little bit more problematic than usual.

I searched for “Demoss” in the “Maryland Archives, 1658-1783” with the hopes of finding something on my family from that state.

The search brought up 1484 hits as shown in the image below. Many of these were for non-Demoss names or words. Particularly “dammages” and “damages.” There were lots of damages in my results.


So I decided to flip it around and search for damages. I wasn’t certain how many hits I would get, but I expected a number reasonably similar to 1484–different but reasonably close.

There were no results for dammages as last name. I also obtained no results when I searched for that word as a keyword as well. No damages and no results.

It’s been a while since I’ve had any advanced coursework in number theory or algebra, but I’m pretty certain that 0 is not the same as 1484. In algebra, 0 is particularly interesting and has a variety of special properties.

Here 0 is just frustrating.

And confusing.

There are 0 results for “dammages” as a last name and 0 results for “dammages” as a keyword.

There are 0 results for “damage” as a last name and 367 results for “damage” as a keyword.

All search results were obtained between 11:00 am and 11:25 am central time.


4 thoughts on “OCR Confusion Damages the DeMosses

  1. Suggestion: Search on the MD archives site. Ancestry’ search algorithm is goofy. And some of their databases are so databases that you cannot see the whole document or context but only the specific person for whom you searched.

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