Showing posts with label Census. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Census. Show all posts

Sunday, January 28, 2018

52 Ancestors #5: The Genealogical Bonanza of the 1950 Census

1950 US Census Form
It's hard to believe the bonanza of information waiting for genealogists when the 1950 Census is released in April, 2022. You can download the blank form for yourself here.

And the 1950 Census release is only 50 months away. But if I'm really, really lucky, some of my ancestors were chosen as a "sample" to answer in-depth questions! You'll hope your ancestors were "sampled" too when you realize what's "in the Census" (the title of Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors challenge this week).

One in five people were chosen as a "sample" to answer detailed questions like (1) Where was this person living in 1949 (farm or not, same county/state, same house)? (2) Where were mother and father born (country)? (3) Highest grade of school completed? (4) Individual and household income--separate questions for work income, other income from interest and benefits--number of weeks worked/looking for work? (5) Military service in WWI, WWII, or other time?

And that's just the sample questions. The Census itself required enumerators to list each household with the head first, followed by his wife (I know, I know, it was the 1950s, don't blame me!), and children in age order, followed by non-family members living in the household. And the relationship of non-family members to the head was supposed to be listed too!

Age and state of birth (or country) is listed for each person. Importantly, if age is under one year, month of birth will be listed. Married, divorced, never married, widowed, separated. And wait, there's more. For each person over 14, the enumerator had to describe the kind of work and the industry worked in.

I'm particularly interested in ancestors who died not long after the 1950 Census. For instance, my great aunt Dora Lillie Mahler (1893-1950) died only a couple of months after the Census was taken. Another great aunt, Nellie Block (1878-1950), died that December.

Where were they living? What were they doing? Since NYC has not made 1950 death certs available (a decision being challenged by the wonderful folks at Reclaim the Records), I have only their brief obits for now. As you can see by the details in the 1950 Census, I'll know a LOT more about them in 50 months. Happily, I have a good idea of which Enumeration Districts to check when the Census is released. And I can hardly wait.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Census 1940: How Much Did Grandpa Make in 1939?

On April 2, 2012, I'll be able to find out how much money my Grandpa Theodore Schwartz made in 1939. Why do I care? Because Grandpa ran a grocery store and, according to family stories, he was too soft-hearted to take money from customers who were hungry but couldn't pay for their purchases. In eight months, I'll know whether Grandpa's income was suffering or whether he and Grandma Minnie Farkas Schwartz had enough money to get by.

Yearly income in 1939 is only one of the important questions that any beginning genealogist should be thrilled to see on the 1940 Census form.

Another key question is "Residence, April 1, 1935." If you've already checked your ancestors' whereabouts in the 1930 Census, you'll now know where they were at the beginning, middle, and end of the Depression.

There's only one catch, and that's the biggest tip of all for using the 1940 Census: The names won't be indexed, at least not at first. You should start now to assemble a list of the exact addresses of all the relatives you're looking for in the 1940 Census. Second task: Locate the exact Enumeration District for each, which can be harder than it sounds (alas).** But if you start soon, you'll be ready.

When the Census records are opened in 2012, my fingers will be poised over the keyboard, ready to find out about Grandpa's income and his housing situation in the 1930s. How about you?

For more info, see the Census page at Archives.com.

** JoelWeintraub's comment, below, has this excellent idea: "I suggest your readers start by taking our tutorial at: http://stevemorse.org/census/quiz.php." Thanks, Joel!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Genealogy Time Capsules

Ever think about the Census as a time capsule? Each one is waiting to be discovered 72 years later when genealogists and researchers can look back and see ancestors were living or working at a certain time and place, see who was living and near with those people, learn about their educational situation, the language they spoke, and so on.

We know where these Census time capsules are, we know when they're about to be opened, and we know how to peek inside and find data treasures that will help us piece together details of our family from years past.

I've come to think of a genealogy blog as another kind of family time capsule. I post names, photos, queries, comments about my family tree and--if Google never removes the blog or the links--they'll be here for decades or longer, waiting for some future researcher or distant relative to search out and read. As long as search engines can locate my blog's entries in the ever-expanding galaxy of web stuff, future members of my family will be able to see what I've posted.

My blog isn't as well organized as the Census, and it's admittedly somewhat obscure--partly for privacy reasons--but still it can be viewed as a kind of time capsule about my family.

Here's my concern: not all time capsules are found.

From time to time, I read in news reports about time capsules that come to light accidentally--maybe buried at the start of some monument's construction and then found 52 or 78 years later during renovation. Or a school asks children to bring everyday items and notes to class for a time capsule burial set into a new building's cornerstone or at a new sports field's dedication. Too often the markers fade or aren't even set up to let future generations know of the treasures buried in the time capsule.

I deliberately include the surnames of ancestors and relatives I'm researching in the hope that these serve as markers to guide people to my blog. But will my blog and the thousands like it be gone some day? If there are no new entries for 25 years, will Google or Yahoo or Bing be able to find my blog when someone two generations from now wants to search out the same surnames?

How can we, as family researchers, ensure that our genealogy blogs--the ones we use to describe family trees, discuss our ancestors, display old photos, and reach out to long-lost cousins--live on? How can we be sure that our genealogy blogs will be treated as family time capsules that can be found many years in the future?