The 1950 federal U.S. census will not be released to the public until April 2022. Are you as excited about that as I am? This census will provide volumes of new information about our families and their lives.
Answers to Your Questions about the 1950 Census
Here are answers to four of the common questions we receive about the 1950 census:
What will I be able to learn from the 1950 census?
With each decade the federal government has asked more detailed questions. The information collected has expanded our understanding of the families, their backgrounds, and their lifestyle.
Here’s what the front page of the 1950 Census of Population and Housing form looked like:
As you can see there is a wealth of information that will be of interest to family historians. 20 questions were asked of everyone. The detailed questions at the bottom of the form were asked of 5% of the population.
The back side of the form may not be as familiar to you, but it too collected a vast amount of fascinating data about housing:
Let’s take a closer look at one of the rows:
As you can see the back side of the form is focused on housing. Here you’ll find answers to questions about:
- Type of Living Quarters
- Type of Structure
- Whether a business was run from the house
- The condition of the building
- If there are any inhabitants who may be somewhere else at the time the census was taken
- How many rooms
- Type of water, toilet and shower / bath facilities
- Kitchen and cooking facilities
- Financial and rental arrangements
Additional questions were not asked of all, but rather were asked on a rotating basis. These centered around additional features of the home such as radio, television, cooking fuel, refrigeration, electricity and the year the home was built.
Are enumerator instructions available for the 1950 census?
The instructions issued to enumerators can provide you with further insight into the records themselves. It can also clarify the meaning of marks and numbers you may find on the documents.
And yes, the US Census Bureau has indeed published the instructions for the 1950 census on their website here. According to their site:
“During the 1950 census, approximately 143,000 enumerators canvassed households in the United States, territories of Alaska and Hawaii, American Samoa, the Canal Zone, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and some of the smaller island territories. The U.S. Census Bureau also enumerated Americans living abroad for the first time in 1950. Provisions were made to count members of the armed forces, crews of vessels, and employees of the United States government living in foreign countries, along with any members of their families also abroad.”
Also on that web page you’ll find instructions for the following years: 1790, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1890, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940.
Can I request individual census entry look-ups?
Yes, you may apply to receive copies of individual census entries from 1950-2010 for yourself or immediate relatives. It’s not cheap—it’s $65 per person, per census year. (Check the website for current pricing.) But if you’re having research trouble you think would be answered by a census entry, it might be worth it. Click here to learn buy lithium medication online more about the “Age Search Service” offered through the Census Bureau.
Is there a 1950 census substitute database?
Yes, Ancestry has one. You might find it a little gimmicky, because it’s just taken from their city directory collection from the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s. But it’s a good starting point to target your U.S. ancestors living during that time period. The annual listings in city directories can help you track families from year to year.
More 1950 Census Resources
Your 1950s family history may appear in other records as well, and I’ve got some tips to help you in your search:
- Learn more in my article called Find Your Family History in the 1950s.
- Watch All About the 1950 Census. This is episode 51 of my show Elevenses with Lisa and includes detailed show notes. Premium Members can download the cheat sheet PDF in the Resources section.
- Watch my video and get the show notes for Questions Asked in the 1950.