The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 52, July 1948 - April, 1949 Page: 12
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
and routes were much like those of families. Indeed, a majority
of migrations by single persons may have been adjunct to family
migrations; the census returns display such cases in great num-
bers. Unquestionably, the bulk of the migration into East Texas
was a farm and family movement. Even if the behavior of child-
less persons differed markedly from that of families, still the
sources and rates ascertained from family migration would be
nearly correct for the movement as a whole. The best guess is
that per cents derived from family migration slightly undervalue
the minor and remote sources of migration, and minimize a trifle
the volume of migration in the earlier, more hazardous years.10
The sample gathered by the child-ladder method permits elab-
orate analysis of migration in terms of per cents. While per cents
are well enough, they do not meet every need. Can actual totals
-for example, the whole number of Alabama families arriving
in the nineteen counties-be calculated from ascertained arrivals?
Such a conversion from sample to actual can be made if the
precise detection rate of the method (ratio of ascertained arrivals
to total arrivals) once be established. Thus, given a detection
rate of 50 per cent, actual migration would be twice ascertained
migration. The difficulty lies in figuring out the detection rate.
Columns 5-8 of Table 2 make an attempt, but the effort must
be adjudged a failure." Without ascertained arrivals for the
loThis discussion ignores towns because they amounted to little in ante-bellum
East Texas. By and large, the town and the child-ladder method are not congenial.
The proportion of single persons and small families is high in towns, and
ascertained arrivals are correspondingly few. Townspeople tend, moreover, to come
from odd places. The method may perhaps succeed in giving a correct, though
small, sample of town migration as a distinct movement. But when town and
country migrations are thrown together, the higher rate of detection in the country
denies town migration its proper weight.
"1In the eighth column of Table 2 the per cent ratio of ascertained arrivals
of families to indicated immigration of families is 60.5 per cent, a plausible figure.
But a glance at the individual county per cents proves either that the method
is wildly erratic or that the mode of calculating efficiency is defective. No doubt
the detection rate does vary, especially on small samples. But the main trouble
in Table 2 lies in the calculations, which are distorted by the movements of
families within the state. The child-ladder method measures only arrivals from
outside the state, while indicated immigration into a county, derived from popula-
tion increase, represents the sum of arrivals from without and within the state
less departures of former residents. In a county suffering numerous departures,
the indicated immigration is much below the actual out-of-state immigration,
and the apparent detection rate is therefore deceptively high. The calculation
for Sabine ends in arithmetical absurdity because the county, while receiving
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 52, July 1948 - April, 1949, periodical, 1949; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101121/m1/18/: accessed November 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.