Conflicting Information in Census Records

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Example of a 1911 Census Page

Something to consider is that we do not know who answered the census questions. Was it the ‘Head’ of the family, typically the husband, who never knew his wives parents and yet had to answer questions about where they were born? Was it someone who was forth coming or was it someone who was suspicious of the process and decided to hold back.


We weren’t there when the census taker came to our ancestor’s door. As a result, we just don’t know who really gave the answers to specific questions. If the answers vary from census year to census year, it may be because the individual answering the questions varied from census year to census year. Imagine a set of questions being asked of your Grandmother, then the same questions being asked of your Grandfather. Would the answers be the same – probably not? Census data is only as reliable as the person who supplied it.  Always question why a variance in one census from another, just don’t get hung up on it.

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