The 1950 U.S. census release is just around the corner! This census collection will add a new and exciting chapter to the story of your ancestors who lived in the United States during the 20th century. Taken in April of 1950, the census encompasses a larger swath of American geography than any of the censuses that preceded it, and provides information on the 150 million Americans living during this pivotal time.
Read on to learn when and how you’ll be able to dive into these priceless records.
When will the 1950 census be available?
The 1950 census will officially be made available to the public on April 1, 2022 — exactly 72 years after the enumeration began. This is in accordance with the law that states that census records may only be released to the public 72 years after they are taken.
1950 census release timeline
- August 1952: The U.S. Census Bureau begins microfilming all paper records
- April 2, 2012: The 1940 U.S. census becomes the first census to be digitized and released online
- March 2019: Most of the microfilm rolls containing the 1950 census have already been digitized
- March 2020: COVID-19 throws a wrench into the preparations for release, as most of the digitized records have yet to be matched to their enumeration districts. The National Archives
- reimagine the process and find a way to allow the work to be done remotely
- April 1, 2022: The 1950 census records are released to the public by the National Archives
- MyHeritage will provide the full index of the 1950 census as soon as it can index the data once it begins processing the images in April 2022.
Where will you be able to find the 1950 census when it is released?
The records will initially be released as raw PDFs with no indexing on the National Archives website. We will of course release the 1950 U.S. census as soon as it’s ready, and you’ll be able to use MyHeritage’s powerful search engine to easily find your ancestors among the census records.
How will you be able to search the 1950 census?
At the initial release, the 1950 census will be available on the National Archives website only. Since they will not have been indexed, the only way to search them will be by enumeration district. Once MyHeritage indexes the records based on names, birthdates, residences, and household members, searching the census records will be very easy. You’ll be able to search the census using any information you have, even if it’s just a first or last name. In fact, if your ancestors have already been added to your tree on MyHeritage, you won’t even need to actively search! Our Record Matching feature will identify any new records relevant to profiles in your tree and notify you of any matches.
The 1950 census records will also be included in any general search you conduct using the MyHeritage search engine.
What can you learn about your ancestors in the 1950 census?
Censuses are in many ways the backbone of genealogy research. Unlike vital records, they are recurring records that provide regularly spaced snapshots of the lives of our ancestors, decade by decade. They also capture our ancestors in their ordinary, day-to-day lives: rather than at extraordinary events, such as births, deaths, or marriages, they find our ancestors going about their lives, in the context of their family groups, neighborhoods, and communities.
Just like previous U.S. census records, the 1950 census will reveal important details about our ancestors’ lives, such as:
- Where they were living
- Who they were living with
- What they were doing for a living
- Their ages
- Their birthplaces
- Their immigration status
In some cases, you may even learn details about your ancestors’ income from 1949, their military service, their employment and housing history, and more.
Reviewing these details can help us confirm what we may already know about our ancestors as well as discover new details about their lives.
The 1950 census was the first to cover certain territories as well as certain Americans living abroad, so you just might come across some ancestors who didn’t show up in previous censuses.
How to prepare for the release of the 1950 census
Eager to get your hands on those records? You’re not alone! The good news is that you don’t have to wait until the records are released to start the background research that will pave the way to making important discoveries in the census when it comes out.
In this FB Live session, Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems shows how to use MyHeritage to do your homework ahead of the release:
We’re live with Lisa Louise Cooke to discuss the 1950 U.S. Census!
Posted by Facebook on September 14,2021
Below is a summary of the tips.
Get familiar with the census form and questions
The 1950 census form contained 20 questions for the general public and 18 additional questions for people who fell on the 6 “sample lines” out of the 30 lines on the form. “Sample lines” were first introduced in the previous census, when the government decided to take additional information from a random sample of 2 out of the 40 people listed on each page of the census forms (5% of those counted). In the 1950 census, due to the significant population growth since 1940, a decision was made to ask fewer questions of the general population, but take a larger sample of 6 out of 30 (20%). One of the people sampled out of each page would also be asked several additional questions.
Knowing exactly what the form looked like and what questions were asked will make it easier for you to review and analyze the completed form filled out for your ancestors. You can find a scan of a sample 1950 census form here on the Census Bureau website.
Review the relevant people on your tree
Who in your family was living in the United States in April of 1950? Now is a great time to review your tree and identify all the individuals you may want to look up on the 1950 census when it comes out. You can review the information you already have on them and identify any missing information you might like to learn. If they were older than 10 in 1950, you can look them up on already available census records and prepare to compare the information. Click here to search the 1940 census on MyHeritage.
Find the 1950 home addresses of your ancestors
One particularly important detail to identify ahead of the 1950 U.S. census release is the home addresses of the ancestors you want to look up. The reason this is crucial is that, if you don’t have the patience to wait for the census records to be indexed, you will need to know exactly where your ancestors lived in order to find the census record where they are listed. If the 1940 census is anything to go by, once the 1950 census is released on the National Archives website, the only way to search them will be by street address or enumeration district.
Some places you may be able to find your ancestors’ addresses:
- Letters and postcards
- Old address books
- Previous censuses
- School records
- City directories
Pinpoint the enumeration districts and find the corresponding maps
Enumeration districts were defined areas that one census taker would be able to cover over the census-taking period (2–4) weeks. Each enumerator was assigned a different district that was drawn out clearly on maps to prevent overlapping.
You can find the enumeration map of your ancestor’s neighborhood on the National Archives website.
Review the enumerator manual
Great efforts were made in preparation for the 1950 census to ensure that the data collection was as accurate and complete as possible. One of the measures taken was extensive training and guidance for the people who would be collecting that data: the enumerators. You can download and read the 24-page manual that was given to each enumerator detailing exactly how to fill out the forms from the U.S. Census Bureau website.
The manual will help you get into the heads of the people who took down the information and understand any special notations, markings, or abbreviations they may have added. The manual includes strict definitions for the various categories people were asked about — for example, what counts as a “household” or as “work” in terms of employment status.
As you can see above, there’s no reason to wait for the 1950 census to come out — you can begin researching your 1950 ancestors now and lay the groundwork to get the most out of the 1950 census. Get started on MyHeritage today.
Source: My Heritage