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.

Resources

 

How to Use Snagit for Genealogy

Episode 61 Show Notes 

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Here’s our link for purchasing your copy of Snagit (screen clipping tool) Thank you for using our link.  Use coupon code GENE15 to get 15% off.  (We will be compensated at no additional cost to you, which makes the free Elevenses with Lisa show and notes possible.)

You’re going to learn:

  • What Snagit does and the problems it can solve for you as a genealogist!
  • How to screen capture using Snagit
  • Amazing advanced new features you didn’t know Snagit had and how to use them.
  • How to do scrolling and panoramic screen clipping (perfect for family trees, historic maps, long web pages and so much more.)
  • How I specifically use it for my genealogy research.

These show notes feature everything we cover in this episode. Premium Members can download the exclusive ad-free cheat sheet PDF in the Resources section at the bottom of the page. Not a member yet? Learn more and join the Genealogy Gems and Elevenses with Lisa family here

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How to Use Snagit 

One of the things that we all work really hard to do is solve family history mysteries. And as we do that, we are finding all kinds of goodies. But the trick is that we have to capture them. Right? If we don’t, then we may end up losing the trail.

Last week, we talked about citing the sources that we find. This week, we’re going to be capturing our findings in a very visual way, and actually incorporating those source citations. And we’re going to be doing it with the tool that I really absolutely use every single day. And that’s Snagit.

And lots of people ask me about how I do my videos, my screen capturing and imagery and all that kind of stuff. It’s with Snagit©. It’s a fabulous product by a company called TechSmith. I also use their video product, Camtasia. Today we’re going to talk about Snagit because I really see this as being such an incredible tool for genealogy. I use it literally every day with my genealogy as well as in everything I do to put together this show for you each and every week.

The Image-Capturing Challenges that Genealogists Face

To understand the value of a tool we need to make identify the problems we face and see how it solves them. Here are some of the challenges genealogists face when it comes to capturing images:

  • We don’t need or want to save the whole page. (Why waste all that ink printing it or storage space saving it?) We may not want to download or copy an image from an unknown website. (No one wants to accidentally put a virus on their computer!)
  • The page in its entirety is blurred when printed. (This often happens with newspaper pages.)
  • We need to capture a very long or wide page that can’t be displayed in its entirety on the screen.
  • We want to annotate or add a citation to the source image.
  • It takes extra time to save to items to your computer and then add them to other documents in other programs.

Do you identify with some of these challenges? I sure do.

Let’s say that you find an article, a document, or something else, and you want to add an annotation. Maybe you want to add the source citation, a watermark, or just notes to yourself directly onto the image.

It would be time-consuming to clip the image with perhaps the free snipping tool that comes on your computer and save it to your hard drive, and then pull it into another program to annotate it. I don’t know about you, but there’s never enough time for family history so anything that we can do to save time, means we’re going to be able to spend more time with ancestors.

The solution is using Snagit.

Snagit Functionality

Here are just some of the things that Snagit can do:

  • “Capture” items that appear on your screen
  • Create videos with audio (Create > Video from Images)
  • Edit images (You can edit clipped and imported images and photos. You can also send screen shots automatically when using your computer’s snipping tool.)
  • Convert text on an image to typed text (Grab Text)
  • Create documents using templates (Create > Image from Template)
  • “Share” items to other programs with one click.

I have found that snag is so robust, and it has so many different options, I still can’t exhaust all the things that it offers me. But it’s also simple. It’s simple in the way that you use it. It certainly solves simple, everyday problems. And most importantly, it is a program that I can use not just for genealogy, but also for my business and personal use. I like to have tech tools that serve me across the board, if possible, because it takes time to get up to speed on any program. If you’re just getting programs that are only for genealogy, then you end up needing a second program to be able to do similar things in other parts of your life. Why not find tech tools that can serve you across the board. That’s what certainly Snagit does. So, while I’m focusing on showing you genealogical applications for using Snagit, just know that if you’re new to family history, or you stumbled across us this article, and you don’t do genealogy, you’re going to be able to use Snagit for just about everything.

How to Get Started with Snagit

  1. Purchase the software
  2. Download and install
  3. Open it and let it run in the background so you have easy access from your task bar

Yes, there may be a snipping tool built into your computer, and you can use Print Screen. Snagit can blow them away.

How to Capture a Screen Image with Snagit

  1. Display the desired page on your screen
  2. Click the orange Snagit icon in your task bar (Snagit should be running in the background on your computer.) This is the Capture If you don’t see it, click the blue Snagit icon to open the editor and then click the red circle Capture button at the top of the program. After your first capture, the orange Capture icon will then be open and available in your task bar.
  3. Select the Image tab
  4. Set the Selection to Region
  5. Click the large red Capture button
  6. Use your mouse to draw a box around the desired area. You may see flashing arrows. If you click one you will be ablet to scroll that direction to capture more of the page.
  7. When you release your mouse the image will appear in the Snagit editor.

Sometimes we find an item that is larger than is visible on the screen. The page may scroll side to side or up and down. Use Scrolling capture to capture everything in one piece.

How to Scrolling Capture with Snagit

  1. Display the desired page on your screen
  2. Click the orange Snagit icon in your task bar
  3. Select the Image tab
  4. Set Selection to Scrolling Window
  5. Click the large red Capture button
  6. You will see flashing arrows. Click the arrow pointing in the direction that you want to scroll in Snagit will automatically scroll down and capture. Click Stop at any time if you don’t want to capture the entire page.
  7. When you release your mouse the image will appear in the Snagit editor. You can then trim all sides by simply grabbing the handles and dragging.

In some situations you will need more flexibility in your scrolling. Panoramic capture allows you to select the region and then scroll manually, capturing exactly what you want to capture. Think of it as image capture and scrolling capture merged together. Panoramic capture allows you move both up and down and side to side.

How to Panoramic Capture with Snagit

  1. Display the desired page on your screen
  2. Click the orange Snagit icon in your task bar
  3. Select the Image tab
  4. Set Selection to Panoramic
  5. Use your mouse to draw a box around the desired area
  6. When you release your mouse a panoramic capture bar will appear. Click the Start button to being your panoramic capture.
  7. Click in the captured image area and drag the image as needed. The more precise you are in your movement the better the final image will be. You can move in any direction.
  8. When you release your mouse the image will appear in the Snagit editor. You can then trim all sides by simply grabbing the handles and dragging.

Panoramic captures work great for large items like maps, online family trees and newspaper articles just to name a few things. If you zoom out in order to capture these types of items in their entirety you will end up with a blurry item when you zoom in for a closer look. Panoramic solves this problem.

Let’s discuss a few more options for capturing hard to clip items like newspapers. Sometimes, the article you need is continued on a different page or column. With Snagit you can capture the individual pieces and then combine them.

How to Combine Captured Images with Snagit

  1. Capture each section of the article individual using Image Capture (Region)
  2. In the Snagit editor press Control / Command on your keyboard and click each item you want to be included in the combined image.
  3. Press Control + Alt + C on your keyboard or at the top of the screen click Create > Image from Template.
  4. Select the desired page layout. Custom Steps or Steps Portrait works well for articles.
  5. Click on any items (such as numbered steps) and press delete on your keyboard to remove them.
  6. The combined image can then be saved to your computer or shared to another program.

Editing and Highlighting Images

There are many ways to annotate and edit images (both captured and imported) in Snagit including adding:

  • arrows
  • text (perfect for adding source citations directly onto the image
  • call outs
  • shapes
  • stamps (Images on images)
  • lines
  • squiggles and drawing
  • step by step numbering
  • You can also modify images by cutting out portions, blurring and erasing areas, and even magnifying an area on the image!

Snagit Advanced Features and Strategies

Once you’ve mastered the basics there are many more ways to use this tool to power-up your genealogy research. Here are a few more ideas we covered in the video.

How to Grab Text from an Image with Snagit

Option 1 – Grab text from existing image:

  1. Select the image in the editor so that it is displayed in the editing area
  2. In the menu Edit > Grab Text. This will grab all of the text that appears in the image. If you only want a portion of it, click the Selection tool at the top of the screen and draw a box around the area you want to grab the text from.
  3. The converted text will appear in a pop-up window
  4. Copy the text to your computer’s clipboard by clicking Copy All.
  5. Paste wherever you want the text to appear (another document, etc.)

Option 2 – Grab Text While Clipping:

  1. Display the desired page / item on your screen
  2. Click the orange Snagit icon in your task bar
  3. Select the Image tab
  4. Set the Selection to Grab Text
  5. Click the large red Capture button
  6. Use your mouse to draw a box around the desired area. You may see flashing arrows. If you click one you will be ablet to scroll that direction to capture more of the page.
  7. When you release your mouse the image will appear in the Snagit editor. The converted text will appear in a pop-up window
  8. Copy the text to your computer’s clipboard by clicking Copy All.
  9. Paste wherever you want the text to appear (another document, etc.)

Grab Text from Windows Not Easily Copied

We’ll use the example of copying the titles of computer folders into an Excel spreadsheet. Open your file explorer and navigate to the desired folders. Since a mouse can’t be used to copy all the names in one swoop, we will use Option 2 – Grab Text While Clipping instructions above.

Create Videos with Snagit

You can compile separate images into a video and add voice narration.

  1. In the editor select Create > Video from Images
  2. Click to select the first image in the tray
  3. Click the microphone button in the video recording bar if you want to record narration.
  4. Click the Webcam button if you want to appear on screen
  5. Click the red Record button to begin recording.
  6. Click each image in the order desired for the amount of time you want it to appear on the screen.
  7. Press the Stop button when done.

How to Create a Timeline with Snagit Templates

  1. In the editor add images either by importing (File > Import) or capturing
  2. Select the images to be include by holding down the Control / Command key and clicking on them
  3. Create > Image from Template
  4. Select the timeline template
  5. Add a title and captions as desired
  6. Click the Combine button

Productivity with Snagit

One of my favorite features of Snagit is how easy it is to share items to other programs directly instead of having to save them first to my computer. It’s easy to do. Simply select and display the image to be shared and in the menu go to Share > and select the program.

Resources

These show notes feature everything we cover in this episode. Premium Members: download this exclusive ad-free show notes cheat sheet PDF.

Not a member yet? Learn more and join the Genealogy Gems and Elevenses with Lisa family here

Leave a Comment

Do you have a favorite way to use Snagit for genealogy? Leave a comment below!

 

 

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