Friday, May 27, 2005

In Praise of Errors

Several years ago, two articles appeared in the NGS Quarterly giving "Praise for Census Errors."1 The praise was for those errors of inclusion census enumerators made while filling out their schedules, including more information than their job required—like recording town of birth, instead of just the state or country; or, in the 1900 census, giving the full date of birth, instead of just the month and year. The author listed several examples of the errors; below are a few more I've run across over the years:

Full date of birth given:
1900 Bridgton, Cumberland Co., Me.
1900 Hallowell, Kennebec Co., Me. (1st and 2nd Wards)
1900 Lynn, Essex Co., Mass. (part of 6th Ward)
1900 Fond du Lac, Fond du Lac Co., Wisc. (part of 3rd Ward)

Town of birth given:
1860 Harrison, Cumberland Co., Me.
1860 Otisfield, Cumberland Co., Me.
1860 Waterford, Oxford Co., Me.
1860 Boston, Suffolk Co., Mass. (1st Ward)
1870 Standish, Cumberland Co., Me.
1880 Portland, Cumberland Co., Me. (part)
1Alycon Trubey Pierce, "In Praise of Errors Made by Census Enumerators," National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ) 81:51-55 (Mar. 1993); "Update: More Praise for Census 'Errors'," NGSQ 82:216-20 (Sept. 1994).

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