Well in my effort to find Marilyn Monroe, I had to first know she was born as Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1, 1926 (Wikipedia). But her mother baptized her as Norma Jean Baker, and by the 1930 census she was going by Norma Jean Baker and living with her with foster parents Albert and Ida Bolender (Wikipedia). So I searched for Norma Baker and found the census record above, but if you notice, Norma Baker is not a 4 year old child as expected, but a 67 year old widowed woman. What happened to enumeration that should have went with Norma Jeane Baker, and what was the name of the 67 year old widowed woman that wasn’t listed on the enumeration when the census taker made his copy?
According to Wikipedia, Gladys Baker did not live with the Bolender family, so why was she enumerated with the family at all? Was she just there for one of her weekly visits when the census taker came by? Is the 67 year old widow a figment of her mentally ill mind that the unknowing census taker recorded for posterity, or was there an actual woman that age living with the family that he overlooked. We’ll never know who gave the information, but I can just see Gladys pushing her ostrich plumbed hat back on her head and starting with Albert listing all the family members and where they were from for the census taker. Since she lists herself as from England and the parentage of Norma Jeane as from Ohio and Indiana, we have to wonder if the census taker just somehow skipped a line somewhere along the way. There’s much about this census enumeration that doesn’t match the story of Marilyn’s recorded life. According to Wikipedia and other fan sites, she lived with Albert and Ida Bolender, yet the census enumeration states it was Albert and Edna E. Bolender. And though she was supposedly a foster child, the 1930 census clearly lists her and her mother as boarders (assuming the 67 year old is indeed our Marilyn Monroe).
It just goes to show when looking up your family, whether plain, pauper, rich, famous. The census taker can make mistakes. He can skip a line, misunderstand a name, misspell a name, misrecord a name… And for all time, little Norma Jeane Baker aka Marilyn Monroe will be a 67 year old widow who was born in Indiana. In case, you were wondering. Norma Jeane Mortenson was born in California.