JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Wrong information on census records #general
Tammy:toggle quoted messageShow quoted text
To understand censuses, imagine the process of taking them. You don't
necessarily know who provided the information for the family. You don't
know what they might have been afraid of, or wanted to ignore in their
past. For that matter, you don't know what they *remembered* about their
past. People in those days didn't necessarily know their own dates of birth.
Now consider the census-takers. They may have spoken the language of the
residents, but perhaps they could only communicate directly with the
children who were growing up with the new language. They couldn't ask
for documentation, and had enough to do just getting to every door when
someone was at home and then copying the information they'd gathered
into the sheets we know today.
There were thousands of reasons, I'm sure, for fudging one's history on
the census. Some called themselves "German" when the German Jews of New
York tended to look down on their eastern co-religionists. Others,
having fled the Czar's army, used the names they'd used for cover--so 4
brothers might have 4 surnames. Still others simply didn't want to be
identified as members of their family any more. I've worked on a case of
this sort, and the fictions they told the census takers would take your
breath away. Most of these efforts were pointless--ever heard of anyone
arrested for fudging their census responses?
For that matter, try tracking several families through multiple
censuses. Then calculate the percentage of the time that family members
were reported as aging 10 years (or 5 in New York) between censuses.
As with any other document, you're best off approaching it as a piece of
paper with markings on it and going on >from there. Assume nothing unless
not assuming it would be absurd.
Tina Fey's Saturday Night Live census-taker sketch with Betty White is
actually something to keep in mind. I take no responsibility if it hurts
when you laugh.
Princeton, NJ USA
On 1/15/2017 6:42 PM, Tammy Weingarten firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
I am wondering if anyone else has encountered misinformation presented on a