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:
- 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.?
- 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.
- Don’t forget the value of consulting town directories!