JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Your thoughts on birthplace variations listed in US Census forms #general

Marion Werle


Part of the explanation for the variations in the census enumerations
is in the instructions given to enumerators for the various censuses,
and part has to do with either the enumerator and/or informant. The
enumerator instructions varied >from year to year, and can be found at
the link below:

After World War I, the map of Europe changed siginificantly, and in
the 1930 census, it was deemed "essential that each foreign-born
person be credited to the country in which his birthplace is now
located." <"1930 Census: Instructions to Enumerators", Minnesota
Population Center, IPUMS USA> So this is why, in the 1930 census, one
of my grandmother's brothers shows as having been born in Lithuania
rather than Russia, even though he had been in the U.S. since about
1904 when Lithuania did not exist. His native language was also listed
as "Lithuanian", even though the enumerator instructions stated "
not assume that the mother tongue is the same as the country of
birth." In his case, it should have been Yiddish, which is among the
possible languages choices listed for enumerators, and this was
clearly an assumption based on enumerator error, as he would have
spoken either Yiddish and/or Russian in Lithuania at the time.

Hope that helps.

Marion Werle

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