Research, Records, and…Nova Scotia? A Census Glitch.

1905 New York State Census Yonkers, 2nd District, 6th Ward

I ran into some trouble trying to find my great-grandfather, James, in the 1905 New York State census.  He lived in Yonkers in 1900. He lived in Yonkers in 1910. Where did he go in between?

Admittedly, I searched online, the easy way with FamilySearch.org (Beta). I filled in the forms – name (James Lamb), birth year (1884), place of birth (New York), name of spouse (Rose Glennon Lamb). No go. I would have to try something new. Being partially employed and procrastinating grad school assignments and NaNoWriMo, I had plenty of time on my hands.  Finally, I went through the 1905 census page by page.

Not really. I knew James lived in Yonkers. I knew the approximate neighborhood because I could find his mother, Maria, brother-in-law Cornelius, and the nieces and nephew. So, to clarify, I went page by page in the 2nd District 6th Ward of Yonkers in 1905.

And there they were: James, Rose and their first daughter Gertrude, all listed as being from N..S? N…I? N…Y?  NY – the abbreviation for New York – would make the most sense. A transcriber somewhere along the way decided it was “Nova Scotia.”

Nova Scotia? My great-grandfather Jimmy Lamb was a proud member of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, thank you very much, and a life-long New Yorker. Well, Yonkers-er.

Two issues holding up the research: The 1905 census taker didn’t write out the complete state or country name. A transcriber interpreted the unclear initials as Nova Scotia. Because of a clerical sleight of hand or two, James Lamb (and possibly many others in Yonkers 6th Ward), born in New York, won’t show up easily in the online search results.

In all likelihood, they are there…but you will have to look. Page by page.

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