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11 March 2012

As of This Date

Remember that information on a census is to be given as of "the census date." Sometimes censuses were not taken until days, weeks, or occasionally a month later. Respondents might have been confused when giving information as of a certain date that had happened in the past. As a result, children might be listed who were born "after the census date."


  1. What I have found is that some of my ancestors are really inconsisten in what they report on forms like the census. Sometimes my gggrandfather will say he was born in Ireland in one year, then ten years later he will report he was born in the US, then he will switch again for the next census. I also found it interesting that few of his children seemed to know where he was from when they reported it for their own families.

  2. Michael, I wonder how much of the inconsistency in census information is due to transcription errors by whoever took the census taker's raw data and copied it onto the forms we see now. I'm not sure of the process exactly, but surely the canvasser didn't carry a stack of forms door to door, filling in one line at a time, did he? I suspect someone else, or himself, took notes that he copied later onto the standard forms, no?

    BTW, this is a great site. thanks.

    1. The census taker usually took "field notes" and then wrote up a clean copy that was to become his report. It is very possible that once in a great while, there was an error in transcription or a number or name on his notes that became blurred and was simply guessed at.

  3. The information is only as good as the knowledge of the informant. Someone else, who didn't know the facts, may have answered the enumerator's questions.