In The Weeds 12.9.15: Elzjs Rocks!

I decided to search for Elvis Presley in the 1940 U.S. Census in and discovered something bizarre in how they indexed it. Look at the following table taken from that webpage for his line on the census page:

Name Elzjs Pressley
Age 5
Estimated Birth Year January 8, 1935
Gender Male
Race White
Birthplace Mississippi
Marital Status Single
Relation to Head of House Son
Home in 1940 Lee, Mississippi
Inferred Residence in 1935 Rural, Lee
Residence in 1935 Rural Lee
Resident on farm in 1935 Yes
Sheet Number 21B
Attended School or College No
Highest Grade Completed None
Weeks Worked in 1939 48
Income 360
Income Other Sources No


Here is the actual page from the census:



If you’ll notice, the census taker misspelled the surname, Presley, as “Pressley” and whoever indexed Elvis himself thought that “Elzjs” was a possibility. In Mississippi in 1940. When you type in “Elvis Presley”, your search results bring up the misspelling but, as long as you know the names of his parents or birthdate, you can infer that its him.

Ths point of this is to show how common it is for indexing and misspellings to be mistaken in census records. Even The King suffers the indignity! As co-worker Bill Smith mentioned to me, maybe it’s the first instance of “Rock and Roll Respellings” ie: “Beatles” for beetles, “Led” for lead, “Ratt” for rat, etc.

published by Chuck Voellinger


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