Tuesday, May 8, 2018

On This Date in Minnesota History: May 8

May 8, 1905 – A new ruling has been announced by the state census bureau.

Members of the fair sex who hesitate to give the upcoming state census enumerator their rightful age will be permitted to refuse all information on the subject. A number of inquiries have been coming to the department lately from would-be enumerators, asking what steps they could take to compel those possessed of uncertain age to make a true and exact statement.

This morning a conference was called. Secretary of State Hanson believed that the welfare of the state demanded that enumerators be given full power to investigate the records of the family bibles, the local church records and in fact making investigations necessary in order that there might be no doubt about the ages of Minnesota’s fair daughters.

Capt. C.C. Whitney took exception to this. He said that he had always maintained, as a newspaper man, that the women were entitled to their ages, and that no one else was entitled to know what these ages were.

Supt.  George W. Wright was inclined to agree with him, and the matter was finally left to Larry Hodgson, the budding poet and well-known St. Paul newspaper man, who said that without doubt it was time to establish a precedent.

Laurence C. Hodgson1

On his suggestion, all enumerators will be notified that they are to politely say: “May I ask your age?” If the one question declines to be answered, the enumerator will quickly pass to other questions that make up the long list each enumerator must carry.

1905 Minnesota State Census2

The 1905 Census was the last Minnesota State Census. The Federal Census is taken every 10 years.

The Minneapolis Tribune; “Fair Sex May Conceal Their Ages From Curious Census Enumerators. Fiat Has Gone Forth That Accuracy of Vital Statistics Shall Not Stand in the Way of Chivalry During the Impending Numerical Campaign.”; May 9, 1905; p. 6.




I had a genealogy client whose female ancestor got younger every census. By her last census, the age she gave the enumerator meant she got married and had her first child at 15, which was not the case.


If you are interested in finding out more about your family history in Minnesota, I specialize in researching  genealogical and historical records in Minn. and western Wis., including:
census records,  birth records,  death certificates, obits, grave site photos, ship passenger lists, marriage records and declarations of intent/naturalization records.  I will visit locations to research local history and county records, as well as take photos. Quick turnaround on MNHS records. Both short searches and family history reports available.


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