Sunday, August 7, 2016

NFHM Blogging Challenge - Week 1 - Sense and the Census


I have found lots of valuable information and leads over the 25 odd years I have been consulting various censuses. Some of my ancestors were illiterate and some were cheeky so I wonder if the information recorded by and about them in various censuses is accurate.  Some of the census collectors may have not have been the sharpest tool in the shed.

There are many and varied spellings for family names, there are women's ages that are not consistent from census to census, some occupations that didn't ring true and there were claims to marriages that hadn't happened. My ancestors may have also had difficulty understanding the questions asked.

Although they are valuable genealogical resources I take some of the information recorded about my ancestors with a grain of salt and try to verify elsewhere the facts(!) recorded on census documents.

Taking a look at Trove today I discovered several articles that discussed responses to various censuses. The examples below demonstrate how easy it is for both intentional and unintentional errors to be made on census returns.


1934 'SIDELIGHT ON THE CENSUS',Kalgoorlie Miner (WA : 1895 - 1950), 2 August, p. 7. , viewed 07 Aug 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article95019035
1901 'Humour.', The Canowindra Star (NSW : 1900 - 1902), 18 October, p. 6. , viewed 07 Aug 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article143912400


1921 'CENSUS HUMOUR.', The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 - 1947), 26 April, p. 12. , viewed 07 Aug 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article177034052

7 comments:

familyfractals said...

These are great! Made my day. I especially loved the officials "startled to find that he had been in Australia '40ft, 6in.'". Love it! Makes me wonder whether there will be any scope with the new online forms to inject a little Aussie humour into the Census this year. I'll have to seize my opportunity!

Alex Daw said...

I was very glad to have the opportunity to work as a census collector when I was "between" jobs. What a job! You are right to take the information contained in the forms with a grain of salt.

Crissouli said...

I wonder what will amuse the collectors with this year's census...never a dull batch of responses.

crgalvin said...

Most enjoyable! Some quirky responses well pulled together as always on your blog.

Maria said...

Great idea for a post, Jill. Varied senses of humour throughout:)

Jill Ball said...

Thanks for the comments all, I know that as good little family historians you'll be diligent in your responses this evening :-))

Sandra Williamson said...

Not as diligent as others. But was pleased to read your post and enjoyed it very much.

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