Genealogy Friday: Who Were Census Takers?

posted in: 19th Century, Genealogy | 0

When searching census records we know that there are always errors in these records.

But, who were the census takers?

Census takers are American citizens that have been trained to take the census.

Early census taker with a family
Early census taker with a family

In the 18th and 19th century, these workers had to travel by foot or horse to reach their jurisdiction.

Some census takers were more literate than others.  Often they would write a name the way they heard it, even if that was not the correct spelling.  {We’ve all seen this when researching census records}.

Census takers also had to attempt to understand those that were providing the information.  With a mixture of cultures, this could be challenging at times.  This is particularly the case if the census taker is Scottish and trying to understand a German speaking.  There may be a break down or confusion over words and meanings.

So when searching census records we have a lot to thank these early information collectors for.  They worked through less than ideal situations to provide information that we take for granted due to the ease of accessibility.

Yes, we may be frustrated at the misspellings, misinformation or missed family but we can also be thankful that we have this brief glimpse into our ancestor’s life and thank the census taker for taking the time to gather this information.

What are some interesting errors you’ve found in census records?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.