Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Back to Basics I – Census Records

 Census Data – Facts or Clues?

Following up on my previous post Family History From Census Records, I am reviewing my ancestors in census records and city directories. Discrepancies in census records can be a stark reminder that these records are only clues; and that a given census records alone cannot be deemed as a fact.

What’s wrong with this picture?

The image above shows the 1910 US Federal Census information recorded for the residence of my great grandparents, Michael and Elizabeth Schipp. Some of it is correct. 
  • ·         The surname is misspelled (not uncommon)
  •  ·         It shows that 5 of their daughters were married (correct) and living at that address (incorrect)
  •  ·         Daughter “Otela” is actually “Stella”.
  •  ·         Daughter Helen and her family do live with Helen’s parents. But Helen is listed twice. The other 4 married daughters are living at other addresses with their husbands and children. 
  •  ·         In spite of what the census shows, only Helen and Pauline were born in Minnesota; the older children were born in Poland.

What happened here? 
  • ·         What did the census taker ask?
    • o   If he asked the names of Michael and Elizabeth’s children, that’s exactly what he got. Did he specify that he only wanted those at this particular residence?
  • ·         Who gave the information?
    • o   That is not possible to know.
  • ·         Was there a language issue?
    • o   Very likely.

Verify! Verify! Verify!

Here’s the 1910 US Federal Census page that shows my grandmother Stella Schipp Ganas with her husband and family (highlighted).  Living next door is Stella’s sister Mary and her husband and family. 

Stella and Mary lived farther down the same street as their parents. But. Different Enumeration District; different census taker.

By the way, my grandfather was called “Nick” but his name was Ignatz in Polish, Ignatius in English.

Verify! Verify! Verify!

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