Dates on Google Books May Be Off

“Dates of publication” as shown in GoogleBooks may not be the actual date of publication of the original material. This reference, “Political Pamphlets (United States) from the Durrett…” shows as being published in 1840. It is actually a book of political pamphlets from something called the Durrett Collection and contains items from 1840 to 1878.

I almost didn’t look at it as it was “too early.”  It might be a good idea to take those publication years at GoogleBooks with a grain of salt.


3 thoughts on “Dates on Google Books May Be Off

  1. Cynthia

    As with genealogical records, it is necessary to “drill down” into an entry in Google Books to determine what is really being described. Google Books follows the rules for bibliographic description by listing the publication date of the volume in the results list. That date may or may not be the date that the contents were written; that needs to be verified deeper in the records describing the book or in the book itself.

    Library catalogs do the same thing. To get a complete picture of the publication it is necessary to go into the full record, rather than relying on the brief information in the hitlist. The full record will likely disclose the contents of the book, and the original publication date(s) of the contents, if it is a reprint of one or more earlier works.

    In the case of the Political Pamphlets (United States) from the Durrett Collection… in the example above, the book that was scanned is a rather battered and tattered. The 3rd page, probably inserted by the library owning the book, reads “MUTILATED” to describe the condition. It looks to have a more recently typed listing of the contents of the volume on the next page. Lacking a title page or original table of contents, the typist listed the range of dates that the pamphlets were published, 1840-1878, at the head of the typed contents page. That may or may not be accurate. A couple of pages later is the first page of the book’s content, yet it starts in the middle of a sentence, so there are probably more missing pages. Given these problems with the publication, it’s not really fair to use it as a reason to question all of the publication dates in Google books.

    1. mjnrootdig Post author

      Your comments are appreciated. The point I was trying to make was that one should not assume every date is correct. That’s not quite the same thing as saying every date is wrong.


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