Did well playing an unfair game
June 3, 2019 7:40 AM   Subscribe

Elbertie Foudray and the Adventure of Life: I never set out to write a book about the dream in 1940 of devising the most scientific census ever. Instead, I went looking for an obscure census mathematician named Elbertie Foudray and, to my surprise, discovered the census. This is a census story all about chance and gender (as well as power) and it began with an effort to recreate a very odd paper machine. Dan Bouk, a historian at Colgate University, shares a story of a woman who played a critical role in the development of the U.S. Census in the early 20th century, but was never properly recognized for it in her lifetime.
posted by Cash4Lead (1 comment total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
This is fascinating! I love stories about the Census--I recognize that's a bit of a weird thing but whatever, I've also called the Census Bureau so my tolerance for weird Census things is a bit higher than some--so this whole blog is a delight.

I love Elbertie Foudray's story. This quote from the article,
"When Foudray (rather typically, it seems) challenged some assumptions made in calculations by Pascal K. Whelpton—the most important population forecaster of the day—he responded that he “surely will see Miss Foudray the first time I am in Washington…” He took her seriously."
seems very typical of her personality. She seems to have had a challenging, rewarding, but often difficult life. I'm so glad that the author decided she should be remembered. Too often are women's stories forgotten.
posted by librarylis at 4:35 PM on June 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

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