Absolutely, but when it is a census taker, it is much harder to forgive, especially when searching for a person who was born 164 years ago. Here is an example of what I mean.
On the tombstone and the death certificate, the year of birth is 1857. Ok, that works! Let us look at the census records as another source to confirm the date.
In 1860, the census destroyed
In 1870, 10
In 1880, 23 (married nine months before census)
In 1890, the census destroyed
In 1900, 40
In 1910, 48
In 1920, still looking for this one
In 1930, 80, said married at age 16
In 1940, 93 or 83 (looks more like 83)
In 1947, on the death certificate, 89
So what year was she born? There is no birth certificate. Birth dates were not as important in the 19th century as they are today.
So, how was the census taken? The census taker would go house by house and ask questions from the census about who lived there. Depending on who the census taker talked to depended on the answers they received. Sometimes they asked the father working in the fields, whoever answered the door, or a neighbor because no one was home, and they did not want to return the next day. The census taker did not record who gave the information. That is not all. The census taker had to handwrite three copies of the census going line by line and guess what happens when a person must copy something three times. Mistakes, Mistakes, Mistakes. We all make them.
When my son was in college, he received an F in Algebra. He was stunned. When he contacted the professor, she was also stunned. Then she remembered the fire alarm had gone off while she was recording grades. She had to leave immediately. While hurrying to leave, her ruler slipped out of alignment in her grade book and my son received the grade below his name. I never did find out how many grades she had to correct. So, mistakes happen, but I wish I had somebody to call.
Then there are name misspellings and poor handwriting, but that is another story. I am trying hard to forgive all the mistakes made in recording the census. So, 1857 sounds like an excellent year!
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Pope, Alexander. An Essay on Criticism, Part II, 1711.
1900 Kendall County Census
2 thoughts on ““To err is human; to forgive is divine””
Really good post.