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or logical with respect to the population, do not correspond to the conditions of the manufacturing industry of the place.” [Report of the Superintendent of the Ninth Census, Remarks on the Tables of Manufacturing Industry, Vol. Industry and Wealth, p. 372.
Thus, in no small number of cases, the factory where the hands are employed and the work is done is distinct from the office where the complete accounts of wages, labor, and materials are kept. The two may fall into different subdivisions, and between the two the establishment may be enumerated in neither.
Again, the qualifications required for good work in collecting the statistics of manufacturing industry are in excess of those required for the proper canvass of population. In a city like Indianapolis or Worcester it would be easy to find one good man who should intelligently conduct the inquiries of the census in respect to all the varied industries of the place; it would be altogether unreasonable to' expect that each one of the fifteen or twenty agents charged with the count of the inhabitants would do equally well by that fraction of the manufacturing interests which should fall within his subdivision.
Lastly, it is only when the manufacturing establishments of a city are taken as a whole, by some one who gives himself solely and professionally to the work, that the liability to grave omissions can be overcome.
Any one who stops to consider will see how easy it would be, in a considerable manufacturing town, for an assistant marshal, visiting every inhabited dwelling and enumerating thoroughly every family in the place, to omit many important establishments of productive industry. There are instances in great cities like Philadelphia, where large industries are carried on below the sidewalk, and one might pass and repas friquently without receiving any intimation that hundreds of operatives, aided by steampower, were working almost under his feet. The only entrance to many other entahlishments in such a city is from alleys or interior courts, where the work of enumerating families would not lead the assistant marshal; indeed, into which, with the best intention on his part, he would hardly find his way. Other establishments in great numbers are carried on beneath the same roof with more pretentious industries, or in lofts above stores. In numerous cases the most diverse industries not only occupy the same building, but take their power from the same wheel. Such are the difficulties which beset the enumeration of manufacturing industry. If every establishment occupied a distinct and an entire building, situated squarely upon a public street, and with some conspicuous blazon of what was going on within, it would then, beyond question, be the fault of an enumerator if a single one should be omitted from his returns; but when, instead, establishments of this nature are disposed about and hidden away with a promiscuousness and an intricacy of which the above will hardly convey an idea, it is not to be wondered at that an officer wholly unfamiliar with the manufacturing industries of his district, and perhaps unacquainted with the conditions of a single important industry, should make a very incomplete and partial return of production. [Report of the Superintendent of the Ninth Census, Remarks on the Tables of Mamufacturing Industry, Vol. Industry and Wealth, pp. 371-2.]
On the other hand, an officer specially charged with the enumeration of the manufactures of a city would not only visit establishments which stared him in the face, but he would complete his lists by reference to directories and by inquiries within each special trade; he would become expert in dealing with the special difficulties of that service; he would get “an eye” for productive establishments; his ear would become preternaturally quick to detect the movements of machinery; and his sense of smell would become as keenly alive to the peculiar odors of different branches of manufacture as is reported to have been the case with a late distinguished minister of the United States at a northern court.
But it is not only with reference to the manufactures of large cities and considerable towns that the Census Office might advantageously exercise its discretion in reserving the collection of statistics for a special agent. There are not a few branches of industry in the United States which should be canvassed as a whole from the central office. Here, let us suppose for the sake of illustration, is a branch of industry which
embraces 200 establishments throughout the country, producing to the value of $10,000,000. These establishments may fall into 75 different subdivisions. No one of the 75 enumerators has more than four or five such establishments to deal with ; most of them have but one or two. Of the 75 enumerators few know anything, to start with, about this branch of manufacture; they have no time to learn anything about it by study; they have not enough to do with it to acquire any knowledge through experience. The result is certain to be that the returns from this branch of production will be partial, fragmentary, and, in a high degree, erroneous.
While this is true, in a degree, of manufacturing industry in the settled States, there is one important interest the products of which, by the act of 1850, are to be enumerated in the same schedule, for which the ordinary agencies of enumeration are wholly and hopelessly inadequate. I refer to the mining of the metals, and especially of the precious metals. The returns of gold and silver production at each of the three censuses taken under the act of 1850 have been grossly, often grotesquely, imperfect. The present Superintendent of Census having been invited by a committee of the House of Representatives, in the summer of 1869, to lay before them his views respecting the enumeration of manufacturing industries at the then approaching census, offered the following remarks relative to gold and silver mining:
The fullest examination which I have been able to give to the subject inclines me to the belief that our mining industries, in part, if not altogether, deserve a special treatment in the coming census. Coal mining and iron mining, indeed, dealing as they do with heavy products and being carried on almost exclusively within the limits of settlement and civilization, are susceptible of treatment like any other forms of industry. I do not, however, regard it as possible to make an enumeration of the gold and silver mining of the United States by the ordinary machinery of marshals and proposed blanks, which shall be in any way satisfactory. On the contrary, the probability is that the result under such a system would either be deceptive in the highest degree or else depart so manifestly from the real truth of the case as to become simply grotesque.
Such are the inherent difficulties of enumerating gold and silver product, owing to the high value for its bulk and to the thousand reasons and opportunities for concealment or exaggeration, and such are the peculiar and extraordinary difficulties in our own case, owing to the fact that these industries are mainly pursued at a distance from settlement, and in a wild, wasteful, spasmodic way, that for the officials in charge of the census to simply classify and compile the returns of prodnct which might be made to thein, and to publish these as authentic and official withont exercising the freest criticism, and testing every part by information independently acquired, would be to discredit the whole work rather than to add anything to its value. I reach the conclusion, then, with all deference, that the machinery of blanks solely in the hands of men having no particular knowledge of the subject-in the hands, that is, of the average marshal or assistant marshal-would be found wholly inadequate to the work of enumerating the gold and silver product of the country.
I am fully of the opinion that the investigation of the mining interests should be placed in the hands of experts, with somewhat more of freedom and fullness of method than is necessary in the case of industries which deal with bulky products, which are prosecuted in the midst of settlement and civilization, and which have long ago assumed something like stability of form and regularity of conditions, if, indeed, they have not acquired traditional limits within which their progress can safely be calculated.
The recommendation thus made led to certain modifications of the schedules of the act of 1850 in the bill submitted by the committee to the House of Representatives, but the whole measure thus proposed having failed to become a law, the census of 1870 was taken under the act of 1850, without exception of the gold and silver mining industries.
In publishing the results of the enumeration the Superintendent of Census prefaced the statistics of gold and silver product with the following remarks:
The statistics of the gold and silver product, as obtained by the census, are here
published in conformity with what is understood to be the requirement of law; but it would be wholly unjustifiable were the figures to be put forth without a distinct and emphatic disclaimer of their validity and authority. [Volume on “Industry and Wealth,” p. 750.)
The importance of the subject, in view of the approaching census, has led me to solicit a statement thereon from Prof. J. D. Whitney, of Har. vard University, author of a work of the highest authority on “The Metallic Wealth of the United States," and formerly chief of the California survey. Prof. Whitney has kindly consented to prepare a paper, 'which is submitted herewith. I feel confident that the department and Congress will not fail to recognize the value of the suggestions of this eminent scientist within a field which he has explored more carefully than any other living man.
But while, for the reasons given at so much length above, recommending that the Census Office be authorized, in its discretion, to make special arrangements and provision for enumerating branches of manufactory and mining industries, which in their nature cannot advantageously be subjected to a canvass by the ordinary agent of the census, I would not propose that the schedule of manufactures be wholly taken away from the enumerators.
The miscellaneous manufactures of rural districts will not, perhaps, be very well canvassed by the officers charged with obtaining the statistics of population and agriculture; but the great cost of conducting a separate enumeration by experts of establishments scattered over so wide a field makes it the part of prudence to accept that agency as the best which the circumstances of the case allow.
7th. As to the subjects of inquiry in the enumeration.
This is a matter rather to be canvassed carefully in committee than discussed in a paper like the present. One or two general remarks under this head will suffice.
First. A distinction to be observed in any enlargement of the scope of the enumeration is that between inquiries to be propounded to a comparatively few persons of exceptional opportunities for affording information and inquiries to be propounded to the people generally. The addition of an entirely new schedule of a hundred interrogatories, the answers to be exacted from the offices of every railway corporation in the United States, would not only bring less strain upon the agencies of the census, but it would impose indefinitely less labor in compliance with its requirements than would a single new interrogatory added to the population schedule. The latter would impose a duty upon more millions of persons than the former would upon hundreds. In the same way a special schedule for each of a score of manufacturing industries would make a smaller addition to the labor of enumeration than the addition of a new crop to the agricultural schedule, which will have to be filled out in the case of hundreds of thousands, or even of millions, of farms.
Another distinction of importance is that between schedules to be committed to the ordinary enumerators and those to be intrusted to experts or other special agencies. The aggregate number of inquiries de. manded of the enumerator will, at the least, constitute a considerable mental load; while the necessities of a prompt enumeration, and his own desire to make a handsome per diem, will lead him to dwell very briefly in each house he visits. To increase his duties is inevitably to impair the value of the results. It is easy to ask too much of an enumerator, as it is easy to require too much of children in the schools. Indeed, it is hard not to do so. Every man who is called on to take any part in the preparation of the schedules of the census will necessarily feel the impulse to add interrogatories to those already required; while the press
ure from specialists throughout the country will be very strongly felt in. the same direction. Such a tendency cannot be yielded to without endangering the whole fabric. In my opinion, the act of 1850 already requires too much of the house-to-house enumerator. As the census widens, it weakens. Unless the attention of the enumerator is held strongly to a comparatively few subjects, and those very simple, the results will have value inversely according to their amount. On the other hand, no such close natural limitation exists in respect to those inquiries which are to be propounded to persons representing special interests, particularly when the enumeration is conducted by experts, each in his own line of investigation. Here it is simply a question how far Congress deems it proper and desirable that such inquiries should be carried.
That the existing body of interrogatories, as by the schedules in the act of 1850, should be thoroughly revised, must, I think, be evident to every one who examines them even casually. The questions relating to real and personal property on the population schedule should be stricken out. These inquiries cause more vexation and trouble to the enumerators than any six others in the schedule, and the results are worse than worthless; they are sure to be false and deceptive. It is an additional consideration that no other inquiries cause so much irritation and annoyance to the masses of the people. The attempt to enumerate private libraries, as by the schedule of social statistics, should also be abandoned. On the other hand, if the statistics relating to crime and pauperism are still to be gathered through the agency of the census, the interrogatories should be increased fourfold, and be made more precise and searching in order that the results may be of value. In my opinion the agricultural schedule should be limited to the crops of great and general importance. Where a crop is confined to few localities better. data can be obtained from the trade” than will be found in the census returns. When an enumerator has again and again asked the stated questions in regard to such a crop, receiving invariably a negative answer, he is almost certain to neglect the inquiry in the few cases where he might have obtained a positive result. It is only in regard to crops of considerable importance and of general cultivation that the average enumerator will do his duty carefully and thoroughly. The interrogatories of the agricultural schedule relating to honey and bees-wax, silk cocoons, grass-seed and clover-seed, and perhaps others, should give way to new inquiries of more present and pressing importance, such as the acreage of wheat, cotton, corn, and other principal crops.
8th. As to the use of so-called “Prior Schedules.”
This question concerns the delivery at each dwelling-house, prior to the date of enumeration, of a householders' schedule, with the requirement that it be filled up awaiting the call of the enumerator on the day of the census, who reads over the entries to verify the statements made, and carries the paper away as his return for that house and family. It is evident that such a system must effect a great saving of time on the day of enumeration, and that it is thus naturally a part of a de facto census. With such an enumeration as is herein proposed, however, the claim for the advantages of using the “prior schedule” must be mainly on the ground of the superior accuracy attained thereby. On this ground the claim cannot well be disputed. The assistant marshal, under the act of 1850, calls upon families in the course of his rounds, at hours when the heads of families are habitually absent. In a not inconsiderable proportion of cases, moreover, the wife also will be away from home. The duty of making answer, therefore, may devolve upon servants or children, who are naturally incapable or unprepared to give full and
accurate information on the points covered by the enumeration. To a great extent the prior schedule" obviates the liability to error on account of the absence of the responsible head of the family, and gives a distinctly higher value to the statistical results obtained."
The objection to the adoption of this plan at a census of the United States is found in the expense of requiring the canvasser to go twice throughout his district-once to leave the schedules, and again to take them up. In cities and manufacturing towns this plan might even be found to expedite the enumerator's work, saving more time on the definitive visits, by giving him his schedules already, in a large proportion of cases, filled, than would be occupied by the preliminary visits in leaving the schedules. In flourishing agricultural settlements the adoption of this plan would doubtless considerably increase the labor of enumeration, the only compensation therefor being found in the improved character of the returns. In sparsely settled districts, however, where the time of the enumerator would in any case be largely spent in passing from house to house, the requirement of a double visit would nearly, though never quite, double the labor of taking the census, for which, of course, the government must pay. It was the consideration of such districts as those last indicated which furnished the main argument against “prior schedules" in the session of 1869–70. The true solu. tion of the problem still seems to me to be that which was suggested in the Report of the Superintendent of the Census in 1871, (vol. on Population and Social Statistics, p. xxvii,) viz, by using the prior schedule" as an auxiliary of the enumerator, but not requiring its legal service, and authorizing the Census Office to dispense with this agency, even in this modified form, wherever the conditions of occupation and settlement shall seem to require it.
By distributing schedules in advance, through personal visitation in towns and cities, and through the mail in the case of families living at a distance from settlements, four out of five, or even nine out of ten, families could be served in this way, without any appreciable addition to the expense.
It would seem that the substantial advantage should be secured without carrying the scheme out to a theoretical completeness. Where schedules should not have been duly received or properly attended to, the assistant marshal would be no worse off with respect to the enumeration of families than before; and even in many of these cases, heads of families might casually become acquainted with the character of the inqui. ries by seeing the schedules in the houses of their neighbors, and be better prepared in consequence to answer promptly and correctly.
In the foregoing paragraphs I have traced the general outlines of a scheme of enumeration which, without aiming at the perfection of statistical result which is obtained in European censuses, would accomplish the objects of the act of 1850, with not only a great improvement as to accuracy, but a decided saving in cost* to the government. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
FRANCIS A. WALKER,
Superintendent of Census. Hon. C. SCHURZ,
Secretary of the Interior, * The cost of the 7th census (1850) was $1,329,000. The cost of the 8th census (1860) was $1,922,000, an increase of 44 per cent. The cost of the 9th census (1870) was $3,336,000; but of this, $685,000 was additional compensation," paid under the resolution of June 9, 1870, and the acts of March 3, and April 20, 1871. These several acts were passed by Congress in view of the great advance in the prices of articles of subsistence between 1860 and 1870. Deducting this amount, the cost of the 9th census showed an advance over that of 1860 of 38 per cent.