Diary of a Census Enumerator

Puck was a 19th century American humor magazine, out of New York City.  Here is a funny little piece I found,  “Diary of Census Enumerator,” from the 9 June 1880 issue, p. 239.  Not only is it a good laugh, it also provides some useful reminders for the modern genealogical researcher.



For a modern genealogist, there are some good lessons within this humorous story:

  1. Don’t trust everything you read in the census. Ask yourself, who was the informant?  And who was recording the info?  How well could they understand each other, given language differences, etc.?
  2. Consider carefully whether the document you are examining is an original or a derivative record.  In this case, the census records produced by this lazy enumerator were derivative, since he copied from another source.
  3. Don’t forget the value of consulting town directories!
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