Saturday, April 10, 2010

"a more august and austere Enumerator"

More fun with the-census-in-American-culture!

At first glance this may seem a whimsical reference to the census taker going from door to door and taking the names of all people without regard to sex, color, race, or previous condition of servitude. Then we come to the line, "an' he leave my heart in pain," and we know it is a more august and austere Enumerator than any employed in the transient and temporal governments of man.

(click the photo to read more and see the song)

And you were worried about giving your name to the government! I found this while paging through Carl Sandburg's The American Songbag, published in 1927.

You can actually read or download the entire collection at the Internet Archive.

Sanburg even recorded this song himself! (You can find it on the album Carl Sandburg sings his American Songbag, naturally.) Credit for popularizing it generally goes to Lead Belly. Here's Josh White from 1933.

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