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Fred R. Isberner

KEY WORDS: College students, academic year, residential mobility, mobile home pad sites, ethnographic, university records


This site experienced the highest residential mobility of any where an Alternative Enumeration (AE) was conducted. The original Alternative Enumeration of a mixed neighborhood in a midwest university town was conducted during the summer of 1990. Dr. Isberner stepped in to resolve discrepancies in the match between the AE and Census two years later. Dr. Isberner had lived in the community for many years and was familiar with the exact site as he had once resided nearby. Reconstructing the population and housing arrangements as of "Census Day" April 1,1990 was a daunting task. The original observers listed the housing units they actually saw and reported people who were living in the sample area at the time they conducted their enumeration. To confirm or validate where individuals reported in Census or AE records for the site were residing on April 1, 1990 ("Census Day"), Dr. Isberner garnered evidence of the accuracy of enumerations though discussions with landlords, with people enumerated who continued to live in the sample area, and with neighbors of former residents who had moved away. He systematically reviewed public and university documents such as telephone books and student directories. Most of the people unmatched in the comparison between Census and Alternative lists were either students who lived in the site on Census Day and moved out during the break between the spring and summer 1990 sessions or they were new people who moved in during or just after that break. In between the the Census and Alternative enumerations, there had been a break between the spring and summer sessions. During breaks in the academic year when no classes are scheduled, many university students (and staff) move in or move out of local residences. When residential mobility takes place in university towns is tied to the academic schedule, highly patterned and predictable. More visually apparent and easier to resolve were discrepancies between the census and AE lists of housing units. Throughout the site, street names, house numbers and, in a trailer park, trailer lots, were clearly marked with "city style" addresses. The Census list of housing units included several empty platforms where no housing units existed on Census Day that were still empty years later. Although it is a standard procedure in listing or checking addresses for census workers to pre-list vacant hook-up pad sites where mobile homes can be set, these "addresses" should have been deleted from the list if no housing unit were present on Census Day.

Citation: Isberner 1992 Ethnographic Evaluation of the 1990 Decennial Census Report # 19. Final report for Joint Statistical Agreement 90-05 with Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. PREM # 180.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Statistical Research Division | (301) 763-3215 (or |   Last Revised: October 08, 2010