Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Of census and pizza

I had trouble finding Joseph Nunn on the 1940 federal census. I had his World War II Old Man’s Draft Card from 1942, which stated he lived at 606 Fifth Street, Lower East Side of Manhattan.  Since his discharge from St. Joseph’s Home in Peekskill on 25 August 1910, Joseph worked on farms in both New York and New Jersey.  I checked the census for both states, using the advanced search technique on HeritageQuest for different spellings of his name, searching by age, etc.  Nothing came up. 

Today I went to SteveMorse.org to search the ED for the address he gave in 1942, thinking he might be there in 1940, or at least the name he put down as the person who would always know where he was, Mr. Spitzle, at 614 E. Fifth Street.  Steve Morse has a great ED finder. You put in the street address of the city of which you are searching, a cross street if you know it, and he then gives you the Enumeration Districts for that area. Since I knew the address, I could put in the cross street of Avenue B.  That gave me only five or six EDs to search.  In ED 31-503, I found my Joseph.  He was living at 610 Fifth Street in 1940. He seemed to have a reduced rent and that could be because he was a “Helper” to the superintendent.  Joseph lived in this same place in 1935, he was 46 and single.

Why couldn’t I find him?  If I had remembered my lesson from the 1900 census, I would not have first looked for the name Nunn.  If I had remembered my father’s experience in Ithaca New York during the 1960s, when he tried to order pizza from the Italian Carry-out, when asked the name, and it was given, Nunn, the response was, “I gotta hava name!” 

After repeating the question several times, I am sure Joseph finally answered, “Joseph.”  His name appears on the 1940 census as “Joseph Joseph.”  Just as the 1900 census listed Catherine Nunn and her eight children as “Joseph, Catherine,” Because when she answered the question correctly, I am sure the census taker said, “I gotta hava name!”

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