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Racial Identification in 1930's and 1940's censuses

Racial Identification in 1930's and 1940's censuses

Posted: 29 Sep 2012 7:55PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 29 Sep 2012 8:35PM GMT
How were people identified by race in the 1930's and 1940's censuses? Did the census taker ask the person their race, or did the census taker decide what to put down?

I know some people of Cape Verdean descent who were of mixed race. Yet their parents are identified as born in in Portugal (when they were really from Cape Verde or Goa), and they are identified as white in the 1930 and 1940 census. Would that have been the person's choice or the census taker's ?

Re: Racial Identification in 1930's and 1940's censuses

Posted: 30 Sep 2012 12:22AM GMT
Classification: Query
The answer to your question lies in what the census takers were instructed to put down on the census forms. That information can be found at:
http://usa.ipums.org/usa/voliii/tEnumInstr.shtml

Of course they may not have followed the rules, but one assumes they did.

Joel Weintraub
Dana Point, CA

Re: Racial Identification in 1930's and 1940's censuses

Posted: 30 Sep 2012 1:26AM GMT
Classification: Query
Thank you. The 1930 enumerator called them "white", perhaps because she was rushing, or did not meet the whole family. In 1940, they were recorded as "Negro" and the father as born on Cape Verde. That would have been consistent with their self identification, but it makes the researchers job more difficult.

Re: Racial Identification in 1930's and 1940's censuses

Posted: 6 Oct 2012 9:56AM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 6 Oct 2012 9:58AM GMT
They might have been passing also. I am not trying to talk down to you; but it is a fact sometimes. It was survival and made sense to some people. It meant they didn't have to put up with certain indignitys that people suffered in those days and then you had the Census takers or enumerators who took it upon themselves.


They your people that is; might not have had a chance to see the census in some cases. In some cases. They better not question or ask what was down.
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