Dear Mr. Dohrmann,
Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!
Census enumerators wrote down the information that was given to them to the best of their ability and education level. What did the respondent say? What did the census taker hear? The census taker may have misunderstood what was said. Names may be misspelled – the census taker may not have asked. The person they spoke with may have not known how to spell the name. Ages may be wrong if the respondent misremembered. There may be errors as to sex – is “Francis” or “Frances” a boy or girl? The name sounds the same. Errors in census records are common – going all the way back to the first census in 1790.
We hope this is helpful.
I understand all of those sources of errors in general. But this is my entry. My parents were both college educated native English speakers and the discrepancies are not about obscure facts. My best guess is that my father was out (as rural ministers often are) and my mother was preoccupied by an active 3 year old and a fussy 2-month old baby (me) and the census taker did the best they could. Since entries about both of my parents households seem accurate in the 1940 census, I can only assume the 1950 interview didn't go smoothly.
Thanks for the reply.