Friday, February 7, 2014

It came from the Personennormdatei

One of the things that makes VD16/17 the most important bibliographic database of early printing at the moment is how authors and contributors are hooked into the Personennormdatei (PND) of the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek. Thus authorial names appear in standardized spelling and are clearly disambiguated. Among all the databases I regularly work with, VD16/17 is the one whose technological framework I'd like to see more widely adopted. There are of course some duplications and other problems, but these can be resolved with time.

Until they are resolved, however, VD16 and the PND will contain a few surprises. For example:

Oldest VD16 author tells all
Bernhard Schmid, author of VD16 S 3129, lives to 157 years of age!
(Year of death should be 1592.)

Time traveler from the sixteenth century
Leonhard Lechner: born in 1553, dies in 1906!
(Year of death, 1606, correct in PND HTML format, but listed as 1906 in RDF format.)

Time traveling astrologer from the twentieth century
Leonhardt Thurneysser zum Thurn born in 1931, dies in 1596!
(As above, correct in HTML but wrong birth year in RDF format.)

Time traveling pope
VD16 H 2143, including (as VD16 J 675) the elegies of Pope John XXIII (1881-1963)!
(I suspect they really meant to link to the antipope of that name.)

The negative man
Kaspar Jungermann, author of VD16 ZV 8792, has come unstuck in time: born in 1567, died in 1537!
(Correct in HTML, but with birth and death years reversed in RDF format.)


  1. Actually, those GND sets that come from VD16 are among the crappiest. They are especially poorly researched and not individualized enough.

  2. On the GND see my introduction - Why not mention the great possibility thanks GND to see accumulated biographical details e.g. via