Today's the day -- target date for the 2010 U.S. Census. Those of us who are in America should mail the form back during April (if you haven't already).
Through census forms of the past, we can learn a lot about states, cities, neighborhoods and even individuals...such as Carole Lombard.
She participated in four censuses throughout her life, and we currently have material on three of them.
I don't have data on the first one on hand, but it came in 1910, when Jane Alice Peters was about to turn 18 months old. She was the youngest of three children, residing on 704 Rockhill Street in Fort Wayne, Ind., with her mother, Elizabeth Peters, and father Frederick Peters.
I do have material on the family in 1920. By then, Mr. and Mrs. Peters had split, with Elizabeth moving to Los Angeles and taking the children with her. Here's the data:
Jane Alice, at the time 11 years old and still a year away from her first experience before a movie camera, resided at 605 North Harvard Boulevard. (Note that down the street at 629 resided a 15-year-old boy named Delmer Daves; he would also have success in the industry as a screenwriter and director.)
The Peters family soon moved to 138 North Wilton Place, where Jane was still residing with her mother and brothers as of the spring of 1930. However, by then she was 21, a full-fledged actress and going under a new name:
Note she lists herself as "Carole Peters," putting the lie to the oft-told story that she changed her name from Carol to Carole after it was mistakenly spelled that way on a poster for "Fast And Loose." That film didn't come out until the fall of 1930 (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/81610.html). She wouldn't legally change her name to Carole Lombard until 1937.
There's one more Lombard census left to discover...the 1940 form, taken at a time when she was a top-tier star, married to arguably the top male star in the business, and living the farm life in Encino. We'll be able to access that data in 2012. Meanwhile, fill out (and mail back) your form.