Monday, November 22, 2010

Mailbox Monday: Family Hydra

Regarding “Family Hydra,” the census family with two heads, thank you all for your comments and John and Joan especially.

Dear Insider,

I find this not strange. This is two family groups living in the same household. The second family is headed by a widow. She might be, or might not be a relative. It would not be impossible for her to be the mother of the wife, at the early age of 15 or 16.

Signed,
Anonymous*

Dear Insider,

Why must we assume this is incorrect. I think it is two family units and each has a head. Maybe this was before the IRS told us there could only be one head (as defined by their rules) in each household.

Signed,
Joan*

Dear Anonymous and Joan,

Your points are well made. Certainly it is not strange to have two families headed by two people in one house. Presumably, that is why column 3, number of dwelling house, wasn’t incremented.

It is the census record that is strange. Each family should have a head and each head should have a family number in column 4. One family should have one number and one head. Two families should have two numbers and two heads. See paragraphs 100-2 and 109 of the 1920 Census Enumerators Instructions.

Here’s part of paragraph 100:

100. Column 4. Number of family in order of visitation.—In this column number the families in your district in the order in which they are enumerated, entering the number opposite the name of the head of EACH family

Keep those comments coming,

-- The Insider

Yes, records say the darnedest things.

Note: Letters and comments are edited for length, clarity, and editorial style.

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