fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,
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52 Ancestors Week 5 - In the Census

The prompt for Week 5 (January 29 – Feb 4) was In the Census. I’ve used a lot of different types of census records in my research, both in Eastern Europe and in the U.S. The American ones are infinitely more frustrating, but I think that is largely because I have higher expectations for them. Here’s an example from 1930:


1930 census schwartz

This record is for my great-grandparents and 4 of their 5 children, who appear on lines 24-29. The fifth child was my grandmother, Lillian SCHWARTZ, or, actually, by then, Lillian CHLEBIOCKY, who had married my grandfather at the beginning of that year and was living with him in Havana, Cuba. The SCHWARTZ family was living at 293 Henry Street, which matches the postcards Grandma sent from Havana, so, along with the names matching, I can be pretty sure I have the right people. Too bad nearly everything else is questionable.

Let’s start with my great-grandfather. He never went by the name Harry SCHWARTZ. His name was Enoch Ber SZWARCBORT and he Americanized that to Henry SCHWARTZ. Our family theory is that he chose Henry because of living on Henry Street and we have a running joke about what he’d have done if he lived on Delancey. That’s a minor point and the rest of the names are correct.

Ages, however, not so much. As it happens, I have Enoch’s birth certificate, so I know he was born before 1876, which would make him 53 or 54. He and Mollie married in 1896 (again, I have the record) so it looks like his age at marriage is correct at 20. But if Mollie was 2 years younger than him then, she couldn’t be 5 years younger than him in 1930.

Another bit of evidence is passenger manifests. Enoch actually arrived in 1910, not 1926, and the rest of the family in 1920, not 1928. In the passenger manifests, Enoch was 34 in 1910, so he would be 54 in 1930. Mollie was 41 in 1920, so would presumably be 51 in 1930. (Phil was 11, Bernice 9, and Frieda and Morris were both 15. If their naturalization records are to be believed re: their birthdates, the latter two were twins.) In short, all the evidence is that the census record is wrong.

The other interesting thing in this record is occupations. Enoch as a curler of human hair? Presumably, that means a wig maker? When he immigrated, he said he was a joiner. His death certificate (from 1937) indicates that he was in the yard goods trade, which is consistent with what I’d always heard from relatives. I’m less surprised by Morris and Philip doing factory work. I always knew of Morris as a musician, but that wasn’t exactly a way to make a living. And I understand that Phil never really settled into anything until Grandpa helped him get into the jewelry business. I never knew of Frieda could type, but I guess she had to do something. My guess is that, given that this was during the Depression, everyone was just taking whatever jobs they could find.

One other thing to note is that this is hardly the worst census record I’ve seen. There are at least two in my family which have the sexes of children wrong. In one case, a daughter named Selma is shown as son named Solomon. In the other, a daughter named Sima is shown as a son named Seymore.

This entry was originally posted at https://fauxklore.dreamwidth.org/402131.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
Tags: #52ancestors, genealogy
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