1950 US Census Maps – How to Find and Use Them

In Elevenses with Lisa episode 79 Lisa Louise Cooke explains:

  • How to find 1950 US Census Enumeration District (ED) Maps
  • The purpose behind them and how to interpret the maps
  • Ways to use the maps for your genealogy

This is a follow up to episode 51 on The 1950 Census for Genealogy. In that episode I discussed the importance of finding your ancestors’ enumeration district numbers in order to be able to find them when the digitized images are released (before the index is available.) In this episode I will walk you through how to locate the enumeration district (ED) number and then find the actual 1950 US Census ED map. We’ll wrap things up with a quick update on the release of the 1950 US Federal Census. 

Episode 79 Show Notes 

 (Get your ad-free Show Notes Cheat Sheet at the bottom of this page in the Resources section.)

As I mentioned in Elevenses with Lisa episode 51 The 1950 Census for Genealogy, prior to 1880, U.S. Marshalls were the enumerators for the federal decennial census. Starting with the 1880 census enumerators were hired and they were each assigned an enumeration district, also known as an ED. These districts had to be mapped out so that the enumerators knew the area they were responsible for counting. Therefore, maps are drawn in anticipation of each census being taken, including the 1950 census.

The 1950 Census for Genealogy

Learn more by watching episode 51 on the 1950 census.

About the 1950 US Census Maps

It’s always important to understand the purpose of a record or source, and the 1950 Enumeration District maps (ED maps) are no exception. Unlike most maps where it’s all about accurately drawing up the current roads and geographical features, census ED maps are drawn up for the purpose of defining boundaries for the purpose of counting people. This means as we look at ED maps we need to keep a few things in mind.

The first thing to understand is that the 1950 ED maps were not necessarily up-to-date with the lay of the land in 1950. Not all streets, parks and features will be included. The reason for this is that the maps themselves were not created for this purpose. Existing maps were used and then enumeration district boundaries were drawn on them.

Maps came from a variety of sources including but not limited to county and City Planning Commissions, 1940 census bureau tract maps, and city engineers. In fact, from a mapping perspective the variety of maps in the collection are fascinating.

Look for the map title, description, legend and census stamps typically found in one of the corners. In this example (see image)  from Aurora, Colorado the map used was originally created by the city engineer in 1946 and was revised in 1947.

1950 census map legend

1950 census map of Aurora, Colorado (Source: National Archives)

Following the end of World War II, the United States was growing at a quick pace in 1950. This is particularly true of the newly emerging suburbs. Therefore, if your ancestors built a new home in a new development in 1949, don’t be surprised if you don’t see the street on the 1950 census ED map. However, rest assured that the maps still hold value for your family history as they provide many interesting and unique details about the area surrounding your ancestors’ homes.

Each map was stamped with a small legend where the meaning for each of the colored lines drawn could be indicated. From my random sampling of 1950 census maps across the United States it appears that the coloring coding was consistent as follows:

  • Red = Township
  • Green = Corporate Limits/Ward
  • Orange = Enumeration District

Expect to see errors, inconsistencies and omissions in the maps. The more rural the area the more likely the map was compiled from several sources by the Census Bureau cartographers. This compilation created more opportunity for errors, and often used older maps.

1950 census in rural area

Source: National Archives

The Meaning of Census Enumeration District Numbers

A census enumeration district number is made up of two numbers separated by a dash. The first number (in this example: 1) represents the county/region. The second number represents the area within the county that could be covered by an individual census enumerator within the amount of time provided for taking the census, about 2-4 weeks. The official start of the 1950 US Federal Census was April 1, 1950.

census enumeration district numbers

Census enumeration district (ED) numbers on a 1950 census map.

How to Find 1950 Census Maps

Some 8,000 census maps have been digitized and are available at the National Archives. However, the National Archives website can be challenging to navigate. I recommend using the Unified 1880-1950 Census ED Finder Tool at Steve Morse’s website. 

1. Go to https:/stevemorse.org

2. In the menu in the upper left corner hover over US Census and in the secondary menu click Unified 1880-1950 Census ED Finder

3. Select the state from the first drop-down menu.

4. Next select the county.

5. Then select the city.

6. You will then see many enumeration district links listed. In order to find the right one for your ancestor’s home, enter the house number and select the street from the next drop-down menu. Don’t worry about directional parts of the address like west or east unless they are offered in the list of street names.

7. As soon as select the street name, the list of ED numbers should be reduced. In this example we are down to three.

8. To further reduce the possible ED numbers, we can select Cross or back street on same city block. If you’re not sure what the neighboring streets are, click the see Google Map This will plot the address you entered into Google Maps where you can then find the closest cross street, and the next streets over. If the address is not precisely marked on the map, check the address that appears in the Google Maps search box.

In my case, the One-Step tool didn’t allow me to specific W. Arcade, so Google Maps just gave me the general area, and not the address. By adding the W. to the address and pressing enter on my keyboard Google Maps was able to precisely plot the location. Now we can make note of the closest cross street (ex. N. Center), the street north of the address (E. Monterey Ave.) and the street south of the address (W. Noble St.)

9. Head back to the Unified 1880-1950 Census ED Finder page and enter each nearby street (you can enter multiple.) This should reduce the ED numbers one. This is the ED that includes your ancestor’s address.

How to Find 1950 Census Maps

1. Make note of the ED number, and then go back and click the button that says See ED Maps for ____________ County. You could have clicked this button without going through the process of locating the ED number, but the ED number makes it much easier to find your ancestor’s home street on the map. This number will also assist you in being able to find your ancestors in the 1950 census before it is indexed.

2. You will now be on the Viewing 1950 Enumeration District Maps in One Step Re-enter the city from the drop-down menu.

3. Click the Get ED Map Images You will receive two links. The first link is Links to NARA viewer will take you to the page on the National Archives website which includes all of the information about the map and the record hierarchy. Source citation information can be gathered from this page.

5. Click the second link called Direct links to jpegs on NARA server. This will take you to the image by itself as hosted on the National Archives website. I find this the easiest way to save the full resolution image to my computer hard drive. On my PC I right-click on the map and select Save Image As.

This page is also important if you want to use this image in another program such as Google Earth. The URL for this page is the direct URL to the image. Notice that it ends in .jpg. This means that it is the image alone, and this link can be used to create a custom map overlay in Google Earth. You can see an example of a custom map overlay in my video Create a Family History Tour with Google Earth Pro at the 06:13 mark.

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Last updated: 2022

Guion Miller Roll for Native American Research

Today is the last day that the Native American records collections is available for free on Fold3.com. Many American families have a tradition of Native American ancestry. Here are some helpful tips when researching the Guion Miller Roll at Fold3.com.

guionmillerroll_featureimage_attributionneeded

Pub. by Standard Souvenirs & Novelties, Inc., Knoxville, TN. Courtesy of Boston Public Library via Flickr.com.

Purpose of the Guion Miller Roll

In our most recent post, “Eastern Cherokee Applications for Native American Research,” we shared how to find and use the Eastern Cherokee Applications at Fold3.com. Today’s post is on the Guion Miller Roll. It is a list of those who were eligible after having filled out the Eastern Cherokee Application. These eligible persons were made into a list and that list, or roll, is called the Guion Miller Roll.

Looking to see if your ancestor is found on the Guion Miller Roll is important because information on this roll is later than the information in the Dawes Rolls. New information (like names of additional family members) in the Guion Miller Roll may not have been on the Dawes Rolls. Additionally, not finding a targeted ancestor listed with their family on the later Guion Miller Roll could also narrow down a date of death.

Fold3.com has the Guion Miller Roll online and has titled it Guion Miller Roll. Ancestry.com also has this list, but at Ancestry it is called U.S., Records Related to Enrollment of Eastern Cherokee by Guion Miller, 1908-1910.

Insights into the Guion Miller Roll Publication

Take a look at the titles under the publication of Guion Miller Roll at Fold3.com.

If you are not a member of Fold3.com, you will first need to go to www.fold3.com. Click in the center of the homepage where it says Free Access to Native American Records. Next, on the left you will see Records from Archives. Go ahead and click that.

From the list now showing on your screen, choose Guion Miller Roll.

Native American records include Guion Miller Roll

Scroll to the bottom and click Learn more at the bottom right. You will be directed to a new screen. At this new screen, click Browse by title, over to the right.

guionmillerroll_2

You are directed to the publication titled Guion Miller Roll, and there is a list of five categories.

Let’s take a look at the list:

Fold3 offers the Guion Miller Roll

The categories under the Guion Miller Roll publication are:

  1. General Index to Eastern Cherokee
  2. Indexes, Rolls of Eastern Cherokee
  3. Miscellaneous Testimony Taken Before
  4. Report Submitted by Guion Miller
  5. Roll of Eastern Cherokee and Report On

Some of these publication titles are duplicates of other publication titles on Fold3. See this helpful image below:

guionmillerroll_new

Duplicates can actually be beneficial. As an example, in the last title called the Roll of Eastern Cherokee And Report on Exceptions, With Supplemental Roll (the title has been shortened on your screen, but that is the full name) there is something you may not have realized. This title is the same thing as the title Roll of Eastern Cherokees in the Eastern Cherokee Applications publication. Why would Fold3 have two of the same thing? There is one exception between these two nearly buy prescription medication online uk identical groups of records. The exception is: Eastern Cherokee Applications>Roll of Eastern Cherokees indicated in the top part of the image, has the roll numbers cut off in some of their digital images. In other words, if you had only looked at that one and not the Roll of Eastern Cherokee and Report on Exceptions, With Supplemental Roll under the Guion Miller publication, you would have missed that.

From time to time, a digital copy will be made of a record set that ends up being too dark, too blurry, or too crooked. When this happens, some of the information on the record will be cut off or simply not readable. It’s great when there is a second set of digital images because hopefully the second copy will not have these problems. As in all things, if there is ever more than one copy of something, check them both! You never know how they may differ in quality of copy.

Miscellaneous Testimony Taken Before

This title, Miscellaneous Testimony Taken Before, under the publication of Guion Miller Roll is filled with hints and clues for your genealogy story. I think it has been my most important find in the Guion Miller Roll publication.

Testimony relating to the Guion Miller Roll

Testimony relating to the Guion Miller Roll.

The testimonies are broken up into ten volumes. Within these volumes are short (or long) testimonies from the applicant, friends, family, or acquaintances regarding their belief that someone was or was not of Indian descent. Many of the testimonies include names and dates of vital events, as well as residences. Even though we must take these records with a grain of salt because individuals may have had something to gain financially, the information would be considered valuable clues. Each testimony indicates which application it attached to.

How to Find a Testimony Record Related to an Eastern Cherokee Application

There is no index by name for testimony volumes 1-9 at Fold3, so you would have to go volume-by-volume, then page-by-page to find your ancestor. That would take a very long time! But if you go to Ancestry.com to U.S., Records Related to Enrollment of Eastern Cherokee by Guion Miller, 1908-1910, you can search by name and you will find the image of the testimony there.

[Note: Volume 10 is broken down into three subcategories. These are Creek Testimony which includes an index on the fourth page of the roll, Poindexter Testimony with no index, and Sizemore Testimony, also with no index. The Poindexter testimonies and the Sizemore testimonies are those testimonies claiming their Native American heritage through those surnames.]

More on Native American Research

Using Native American collections for genealogy research can be challenging. We hope this has helped you to better understand the ins and outs for using the record collections at Fold3. For even more helpful tips, read:

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

Virtual Reality (VR) and Google Earth Converge

Google has announced that it is bringing Google Earth to the HTC Vive virtual reality (VR) headset. Here’s what that could mean for family historians.

Virtual Reality Google Earth
Google Earth VR (virtual reality), which is available through Steam, allows users to visit various landmarks around the world, providing a 360-degree, immersive view. According to Google, “you can fly over a city, stand at the edge of a mountain, and even soar into space.”If you’ve read my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, then you already know the potential genealogical goodness that Google Earth can bring to your family history. (If you haven’t, visit my Google Earth for Genealogy page to see what I’m referring to and you’ll quickly embrace the idea.)
And, if you’ve had the opportunity to sit in on my presentation The Future of Technology and Genealogy at a conference or seminar, then you’ve followed along as I explored the potential application of VR to genealogy. It’s a match made in heaven. VR does not only allow us a deeper exploration of our ancestral homelands, but could potentially intertwine with historical imagery.

According to Polygon.com, right now “the app is only available to use through the Vive. Google has not said if it plans to make the program accessible through its new, lower-end VR headset, the Daydream. The company recently released its ultra-powerful, VR-capable phone, the Pixel, so there’s a good chance that Google will eventually bring the app to specific phones.”

Since Microsoft announced in October it was working on a program called HoloTour (which allows headset wearers to visit different cities around the world through VR), the competition should encourage expansion beyond just global landmarks. But, it’s a start!

Watch this video to see it in action.

Learn More About Virtual Reality and Genealogy Tech

10 Genealogy Tech Tools You Can’t Live Without is an hour long video lecture and it’s available in our Premium Member features! Click the title to pop on over, or if you are not a Premium Member yet, become a member today.

Did you have the View Master toy as a kid? Well, see how virtual reality is changing your favorite old play thing into something magnificent by reading, View Master Toys are Going Virtual Reality.

Learn to Leapfrog by Speaking Google’s Language!

Speaking Google’s language will have you “genealogy leapfrogging!” It’s a new phrase coined by Gems reader, Steve, after his amazing discovery using the Google search techniques shared by Lisa in a recent lecture. You too can make some giant leaps in your genealogy research by speaking Google’s language.

Leapfrog by Speaking Google's Language

After a recent lecture presentation, we received this email from Steve:

Hi Lisa,

Steve here. I just attended your Google Tools seminar in Kelowna. I have created a new term as a result of your workshop and it is called the “Genealogy Leapfrog.” That is when you leapfrog way ahead in your genealogy research because of something you have learned from Lisa! Here is the context. I am completely green at genealogy, this was my first conference and I have just recently commenced my family tree research. I have had a very, very hard time finding anything out about my mother’s maiden name Rochon and their family. Well, as a result of the tips I learned from you, I used my grandfather’s name “Joseph Rochon” OR “Joseph A. Rochon” Liliane (Grandmother’s name) and up pops the most incredible website I have ever seen. By clicking on the Rochon with Liliane, the complete family tree back to the 1600s is revealed. Wow…I am in complete shock. While I know that I need to research and verify this information, I am humbled at how you have enabled me to “Leapfrog” in my genealogy research. I now know more about the Rochon family than my cousin who has been researching our family tree for 20 years!

So, here is the real reason for my email – to simply say thank you. Thank you for coming to Kelowna to share your knowledge with us and thank you for your passion for genealogy research. I am a huge beneficiary of your knowledge which has enabled me to do the “Genealogy Leapfrog.”

Yours in genealogy,

Steve

Learning to Leapfrog by Speaking Google’s Language

We were tickled to hear this new phrase based on the exciting techniques that Lisa and we here at The Genealogy Gems Podcast are sharing. Learning to speak Google’s language is a truly amazing tool for successful searching.

It is all based on using Google search operators correctly and Lisa shares that knowledge with you in this video below.

Happy hunting, friends! We know there is a wealth of information to comb through on the internet, but you can do it. Will you share your successes with us here in the comment section? We love to hear from you!

Learn even more about using Google for genealogy in Lisa’s book The Genealogist’s Google ToolboxYou can find this book in the printed edition or a handy e-book edition in our online Gems store.

leapfrog

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