Interpretation
Slide 52 of 94
Slide 52

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Do not interpret too literally any information written in any single document, especially if that information was given orally by the informant to another person who wrote down what he or she heard. The clerk wrote what he heard in his own particular language and dialect. We genealogists cannot hear a document; we can only see it. Therefore, we must interpret what we see, trying to put ourselves into the mind of the individual who wrote it down not the mind of the informant. You need to see the document through the ears of the person who wrote it.

Following are some illustrative examples. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census for Chelsea, Massachusetts, pictured above, there is a Jewish family with a daughter listed as "Bloomer". Chelsea is a suburb of Boston. If you write with a Boston accent, in which the name pronounced "Pee-tuh" is written as "Peter", then the name pronounced "Bloo-muh" must be written as "Bloomer"!   Not being familiar with Jewish names, the census taker wrote what he heard.