Casefile Clues

09 April 2012

Is that 1940 census accurate?

Judy Russel's recent post on the 1940 census got me to thinking about the errors in entries that I have located on my own family.

  • My Grandfather Neill's age is off by 1 year.
  • My Neill grandparents were NOT living in the same place on 1 April 1935 as they were on 1 April 1940. They weren't married until December of 1935 and my grandmother actually resided in a different county before they were married.
The other enumerations I have found don't really appear to have any accuracy issues. My wife's paternal grandparents indicated they were living in the same place on 1 April 1935 as they were on 1 April 1940 and I'm not certain that was correct either. 

Remember that enumerators told those who provided the information that the details they gave were going to be held in confidence to encourage accurate responses. However, those providing information didn't have to "prove" anything, so specifics are only as accurate as the respondent's response. 

Don't forget that the 1940 census is only one source. Just because it's a new one and more recent than others doesn't mean we should give it any more credence than anything else.