Brooklyn Daily Eagle
6 June 1900

Supervisor ATTERBURY Is Surprised That the Number of Resignations Is Not Larger.


Some Population-Counters Spend More Time Questioning Their Chief Than in 
Interrogating Other Inhabitants.

The twefth census of Uncle Sam's big family, which record of certain of their 
goods and chattels, proceeds apace.  Thus the operation is not known to have 
resulted in anything more serious than the resignation of about a dozen enumerators.

Walter B. ATTERBURY, supervisor for this general district, reported this 
morning that about that number of the census takers had quit, for one reason 
or another, and he expressed his surprise that the number of resignations was 
not larger.  "I consider that a remarkable record," he said.  "When you 
consider that 718 enumerators are working from this office and bear in mind 
the kind of work demanded of them, you must admit it is wonderful that only a 
dozen have given up."

Mr. ATTERBURY could give no very definite idea of the actual progress made 
yesterday, which was the first day for the enumerators.  Most of the men who 
had been working in the Twenty-third, Twenty-fourth and Twenty-ninth 
districts reported at the headquarters, 326 Tomkins avenue, last evening, and 
many of the other districts were heard from either directly or indirectly.  
The enumerators thus heard from reported the gathering of all the way from 35 
to 300 names (how sentence is written).  The government allows 2 1/2 cents 
for each name duly entered, so the man with the only thirty-five names didn't 
have much to show for his day's work-that is 87 1/2 cents, while the man with 
300 names to his credit could count the day profitably spent.  Not many men 
nowadays are paid $7.50 a day.

Mr. ATTERBURY says that the difficulties encountered by the enumerators, so 
far as they have been reported, are mainly due to personal incapacities.  Two 
of the men were discharged for this reason last night.  They seemed 
hopelessly bewildered by the intricacies of the work and had made so little 
progress that they were relieved.  And let no man suppose, says Mr. ATTERBURY 
that this census taking business is a snap.  On the contrary, he -----, it 
requires more than the average clerical ability to handle intelligently and 
expeditiously the half a dozen or more blanks of various kinds and to see 
that all of the information they demand is accurately supplied.

The first twenty-four hours of the work, however, served to bring to the 
surface a great deal of that incapacity which is due to a lack of horse 
sense, or an absence of self reliance.

"Some of these fellows need a nurse more than anything else," exclaimed Mr. 
ATTERBURY after he answered one telephone call.  He was reticent about what 
this particular person wanted to know.

Some enumerators as soon as they encounter the slightest obstacle 
---themselves to the nearest telephone and tell their troubles to Mr. 
ATTERBURY.  A good deal of the supervisor's time and that of his secretary, 
Miss O'BRIEN is thus taken up answering trivial inquiries.

The only instance of rebellion that was heard of was furnished by a woman who 
emphatically refused to answer questions as to the number, age and 
whereabouts of her children.  She answered all of the other questions 
promptly and seemingly truthfully, but she balked when it came to revealing 
the statistics of her offspring and fortified herself with the declaration 
that her husband had told her she needn't answer such questions.  The man of 
the house was not about the place and the enumerator made a note of the case 
and moved on to the next house.  The refractory housewife will hear again 
from the census officials.  Whatever this particular woman's reason may have 
been for not answering questions it is certain that a full and free answer to 
all of the questions which the enumerators must ask may entail considerable 
embarrassment and it is here that the tact of the enumerator must come into 
play.  The reluctance on the woman to tell her age is of course, proverbial, 
and it is probable that the enumerators will use up more time in getting an 
answer to this question than any other.  Then there is the question whether 
the woman is single, married, widowed or divorced.  These are all purely 
personal questions which many a woman may refuse to answer.  The answering of 
these questions and many other like ones may involve the uncovering of family 

It seems a little doubtful now whether the force of thirteen interpreters 
will be large enough to meet the demands which may be made by Mr. ATTERBURY's 
corps of 718 enumerators.  The enumerators are under orders to give a day's 
notice of the need of an interpreter, and to proceed in their work in the 
meantime.  But this morning none of the men hired for this purpose could be 
found in the room opened for their convenience at 310 Tomkins avenue, and as 
far as could be learned all were at work.

Manhattan Enumerators Have No Trouble.

The Manhattan supervisor of census, Charles F. WILBUR said this morning that 
the work of taking the census was proceeding without difficulty.

"The report cards from the enumerators," he said, "show how many names have 
been taken in the cards indicating the empty houses found are coming in great 
numbers.  We have not counted them yet, but all the indications are that the 
work is running smoothly.  I anticipate no trouble.  So far only one man, a 
Chairman, has refused to answer the questions put and he answered them when 
the object of the inquiry was explained to him."

There are 1100 enumerators at work under Supervisor WILBUR in Manhattan and 
the Bronx.  

Transcriber: Albert Somers
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