Saturday, May 17, 2008

Quiz on how to read the census

This is a simple quiz. Multiple Choice. I am going to provide you with data on a family from a series of census forms, as well as two draft registrations, and then ask one question. The data includes names, places of birth, birth years, and the relationships provided on the census. Most of the names below have been changed.

1900 – St. Louis
Parents: Jim and Jane (Russia)
Larry (1886 Russia)
Peggy (1884 Russia)
Sarah (1894 Missouri)
Hugh (1896 Missouri)

1910 – St. Louis
Residence 1:
Parents: Jim and Jane (Russia)
Larry (1886 Russia)
Sarah (1894 Missouri)
Hugh (1897 Missouri)

1920 – Chicago
Residence 1:
Jane – Hospital (Germany)

Residence 2:
Larry (1888 Russia) Head
Sarah (1892 Missouri) Wife
Hugh (1897 Missouri) Brother
Suzy (1899 Russia) Wife

1930 - Chicago
Residence 1:
Hugh (1895 Missouri) “Brother-in-law”
Sarah (1893 Missouri) “Sister-in-law”
Living with Unknown family

Residence 2
Suzy (1900-Russia)
Brenda (1920-Illinois) Daughter

1918 WWI Draft Registration
Larry – Married
Hugh - Single

Question: Who is Brenda’s father?
A. Larry
B. Hugh
C. Not enough information

Yes, it certainly looks like in 1920, siblings Larry, Sarah, and Hugh are all living together, and there is actually only one wife, and the census taker got it wrong.

Or possibly there is a second Sarah but since Hugh and Sarah are together in 1930, Suzy and Larry were the other couple.

In 1930 either husband/wife or siblings Hugh and Sarah are still living together, and Suzy – the definite newcomer to the family from 1920 is alone with her daughter. So Larry is the father, right?

Well, if you answer that way, congratulations, like I was, you’re wrong.
The answer should be C. (Or B if somehow you're psychic) Because Brenda is still alive, and insists her father is Hugh. I’m willing to accept this statement. Especially since I am told that Hugh went through five wives, and Brenda was raised by her mother.

I think there are three Sarahs – a sister and two wives. All born in Missouri about the same time.

I think in 1920 Larry was married to the second Sarah, and Hugh to Suzy.
I think in 1930 Hugh was now married to the third Sarah, and Suzy was raising Brenda.

The sister Sarah probably married someone prior to 1920.

I'm glad I found Brenda -- hopefully she can straighten this mess out.

1 comment:

Randy Seaver said...


In 1920, it looks to me like Larry is married to Sarah (not his sister) and Hugh is married to Suzy.

In 1930, it looks to me like Hugh (brother-in-law) and Sarah (sister-in-law) are living with another family related probably to the wife of the head of the household, but Hugh and Sarah may or may not be married to each other. Sarah may be the widow or divorcee of Larry, the unmarried sister to Hugh and Larry, or another wife of Hugh.

Since Brenda (daughter) is living with Suzy (mother), this derivative source, secondary information and direct evidence indicates that Hugh and Suzy are Brenda's parents.

You need more records to prove it, of course! The correct answer is C to your quiz, but after you find birth records, marriage records, probate records, etc. for everybody I'll be it is B.

My 2 cents ... Randy