National Geographic : 1959 Nov
They will knock at the doors of some sixty million homes, from thatched huts and discarded streetcars to luxurious penthouses and lonely lighthouses. They will visit mon asteries, carnivals, houseboats, and the secrecy-bound com munities where atomic research is conducted. They will call, of course, at the White House-and at every jail. To satisfy the Nation's curiosity about itself, roving in terviewers will trudge country roads, brave dark alleys, ride mules, row small boats, and bounce in jeeps and snowmobiles. They may journey by ferry, helicopter, or dog sled. Hazards: Dogs, Turkeys, and Bears If census experiences repeat, some will trip on rickety stairs, climb steeples, blow out tires, break axles, and be come seasick. Some will be bitten by dogs or chased by turkeys. Others will meet bears or fall into creeks. In 1950 one woman had to cross a stream by log to reach a group of mountain cabins. She made the trip twice and fell in both times. There was the musically inclined census taker who bought an old violin he noticed hanging in a farmer's smokehouse. Experts at first pronounced it a Stradivarius, then dispelled the golden dream by finding it merely a fairly good fiddle. Householders' doors have opened to scenes of birth and Census taker on New York's Lower East Side questions a shopkeeper about her sales. Facts gathered from a sample of the Nation's stores go into a monthly report on retail trade. Poker-wielding housewife and her dog challenge an 1880 census taker while children cower under the table. In that year all but 200 of the 31,382 interviewers were men; in 1960, 65 percent of the 160,000 will be women. Since the head count began, dogs have regarded census 698 takers as fair game, as shown in this old woodcut.