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.
Did you know your iPad or tablet computer can be one of your best genealogy buddies? It makes it easy to access and share family trees, documents, and photos on-the-go. It can even help you gather NEW family history treasures: images, interviews and more.
However, iPads aren’t just miniature laptops. They work differently and in very specific ways, depending on what apps you have. If your tablet time has been limited to playing Angry Birds and checking your email, then it’s time to check out these 7 great ways to use a mobile device like an iPad for genealogy:
1. Access family trees
Access your online family tree (and even make changes) with apps like those from Ancestry, FamilySearch, MyHeritage and RootsMagic. Last we checked, Findmypast doesn’t have a mobile app, but its website is optimized for mobile devices (meaning it’s friendly to iPad users).
2. Take pictures
Snap digital images of old family documents, photos, memorabilia and artifacts when you visit relatives. From the iPad, you can upload and share them via Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, email, or access them from your other computing devices via cloud-based storage such as Dropbox or iCloud. (Genealogy Gems Premium members may access the video tutorial, “A Genealogist’s Guide to Dropbox”).
3. Share your family history
Access old family pictures from your iPad to share with your relatives. You can put them right on your device’s hard drive, which makes them accessible even if you don’t have a wireless signal, but space on iPads is often limited. So make the most of your iPad’s ability to access cloud-based storage by putting your pictures in iCloud or on Dropbox.
4. Image new research finds
When you research your genealogy in libraries, use your iPad to take digital images instead of wasting time and money on photocopies. Image pages from a county or local history or take a snapshot (and a closeup) of a historical map. You can even take digital shots of microfilmed materials! Learn more here, and always get permission at each library before you start taking pictures.
5. Organize on your iPad
Keep track of all your genealogy sources with Evernote–and keep all your sources at your fingertips by using the Evernote app. My new Evernote for Genealogists Quick Research Guides, available both for Windows and Mac users, are cheat sheets that will help you start using Evernote immediately across multiple platforms.
6. Access podcasts, books and magazines on your iPad
Genealogy podcasts are the online equivalent of radio shows–all about family history! You’ll find tons of free, entertaining and informative content in:
- the Genealogy Gems podcast (here’s why to use the Genealogy Gems app to access it) and
- the Family Tree Magazine podcast.
Save genealogy and history e-books, magazines and pdfs to your iPad so you can read them anytime, anywhere. Click here for more on how to do this. What kinds of titles might you read? What about:
- Family Tree Magazine (U.S.) and Family Tree (U.K.);
- FREE Curated genealogy content in Flipboard like Using Newspaper for Genealogy and Family History and Using Historic Maps for Genealogy and Family History.
- Genealogy essential how-to e-books like Turn Your iPad into a Genealogy Powerhouse and The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox.
7. More tasks you can accomplish with your iPad
The best apps for genealogy are the ones that help you accomplish what you need to, not just the ones intended for family history use (like the free family history game Family House). For example, sometimes you need a quick magnifier and flashlight to better see old documents or photos–here’s a great app suggestion for that. Also, many of us find ourselves turning more frequently to YouTube. Well, there’s a YouTube app–click here for ideas on using it for genealogy.
Genealogy Gems FREE e-newsletter. Subscribe to keep up to date with iPad/tablet developments other tech topics for genealogists!
Turn Your iPad into a Genealogy Powerhouse by Lisa Louise Cooke, with an in-depth look at over 65 apps, 32 fabulous tricks and tips to make you a power iPad user (and not just for genealogy!) and “see it for yourself” demos in recommended online videos. It’s available in print and e-book.
Genealogy on the Go with the iPad instructional video, recently updated and re-released for Genealogy Gems Premium members