13 May 2012

1940 U.S. Census: Mind Games

So, I've been indexing in the Bronx for well more than a month now and I'm starting to notice and imagine patterns that would be a ever so much better.  I'm heavy into Italian, Jewish and Irish families and it's astounding how many multi-generational and collateral families are recorded in the 1940 Bronx EDs.

Perhaps this is a function of the immigrant status of so many of these people: helping family members economically until they, too, can stand on their own. There are the usual widowed parents living with their children's family. It seems like more parents living with daughters than sons, but I really haven't been counting. There are the few divorced or widowed children coming back to live with mom and dad (or mama and papa). But there are also siblings' families living together (or on the same street).

It's frustrating seeing so many single, divorced or widowed adults living next door to each other.  Concetta, meet Morris. Louis, meet Philomena. Can't we all just get together here!

Many times, I've seen families consisting of parents, their children, one or more of the parents' parents, and the parents' siblings all in one home. It must have made for a vibrant household and I can't help thinking about the family Woody Allen presented in Radio Days: lots of noise, yelling, angst, humor and love. I haven't figured out if any of these families live under (or on) a roller coaster.

Of course, this is the Bronx, not Woody's 1940's Rockaway. But, if I were enumerating, I'd record it as "Same Place."

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