Thursday, August 18, 2011

Census confusion - Alice Bard, part 1: 1901

Lately, I've been trying to learn more about my great grandmother, Alice Bard, from census records. I don't have much experience with census records, and I find myself having difficulty determining what's accurate. I don't want to assume that someone is the Alice Bard I'm looking for just based on a name, but is the same name and the same date of birth enough? I know she was born in Quebec, but I don't know anything more specific than that.

First, I searched for Alice Bard in the 1901 census (using Automated Genealogy), when she would have been 23 or 24 years old. I found two results.

In the first one I found a 23 year old Alice Bard, with her parents "Bard OnĂ©sime" and "Bard Pelleti??". She has the exact same date of birth as my great grandmother has on her tombstone, 22 July 1877, so I'm pretty confident this is her. This is hugely exciting, as I've never known her parents' names before. The location of this record is Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, a village in Quebec.

In the second result, Alice Bard has the same date of birth again, which suggests that this is also the Alice I'm looking for. Here her relationship to the head of the family or household is "domestic". I assume that means some kind of servant; someone please tell me if I'm wrong here. The location for this one is St. Roch, in Quebec City.

I did a bit of Google mapping (after checking that both these places are in fact in the same place as they were in 1901), and found that Saint-Jean-Port-Joli is just down the St. Lawrence river from St. Roch. So, conceivably, Alice was counted twice in the census, once at home, and once at the home where she worked. According to Google Maps, it's a 1.5 hour drive between the two villages; I have no idea how long that would have taken in 1901. Does this seem feasible? At this point I'm not assuming it's true, but it sure is convincing.

In part 2, I'll talk about what I found in the 1891 census. Stay tuned!


  1. Domestic is anyone who is hired to work in the home - cook, nanny, cleaner, maid, etc.

    It is definitely feasible that it is the same Alice. The 1901 census was meant to be a count of everyone and where they resided on March 31, but not everyone was visited on that date. Some enumerators weren't careful and just enumerated the houses as they found them, and not necessarily as they were on March 31.

    Example: Alice is visiting home on March 31, so her parents counted her. Meanwhile, at the house she works at, the enumerator is sloppy and just asks who lives there without asking who was there March 31. Since Alice usually is with the Boisseaus, they count her.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Erin. :)

    It's pretty interesting how something as simple as a census can give this kind of insight into a person's life, when she was just a name to me before. Oh, how I love genealogy.