Monday, December 17, 2012


The 1940 US Census just lied! Well, actually, it simply didn't speak the whole truth. As a newbie I need to remember that any document, even a trusted one -- and I'm not so sure how trusted any document is -- can mislead because the people providing the information were not able to render an absolute version of the truth. So I am reminded that I need to keep asking myself: How truthful is this document likely to be?

Here's the case in point. Was looking at the 1940 US Census for Frostburg Maryland and wanted to see where Mom and Dad were living at that time, just after their marriage. I found Mom right away. There she was living with her parents on Bowery Street in their family home. And here's the shocker... it said that she was single!

So I called Mom. "It says that you were single!" I urged. Oh my! The reply on the other end of the phone was a tad flustered. And yes maybe I had put Mom on the spot;) Was there a mystery to be had? Not so much.

She then told me another chapter in her life, even if a short one and just a footnote to the US Census entry in Family Tree Maker. It seems that Mom and Dad were very much in love and ready to get married and all, but they were just a couple of working kids with not enough money to get set up in married life. So undaunted they forged ahead and got secretly married over in West Virginia where the waiting period and age limits weren't so strict as they were in their home state of Maryland. They went home and kept it all hush-hush for a while.

The census taker must have appeared at Mom's parents' door inquiring, and that put Mom on the 1940 US Census as single. Which she was not. Ha!

Photo of the day from the Archive:

Mom and Dad, about 1942.

1 comment:

  1. Having similar fun with the 1940 Census myself. Long held family stories are not quite adding up with enumeration. Actually, my favorite kind of family mystery. Happy Hunting.