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.


  1. In 50 months I will see my parents married. I will see if my grandparents were in the house my grandfather built. I will see my husband in the census, but I probably will not live long enough to see my own name.

  2. Wendy, in 50 months I'll also see my parents married, and I'll know who was living with my paternal grandma (died in 1952) and my paternal great-grandma (died in 1954). I do hope you will one day be able to see your own name in the census.

  3. I will also see my parents married for the first time. I'll also see my grandparents living in Massachusetts for the first time, as they had moved up and down the East Coast for my grandfather's job with the Western Union. One settled in Massachusetts, they spent the rest of their lives there.

  4. Linda, this is going to be so exciting. I'm going to also see my first cousins (as babies) and other relatives, as well as family members no longer with us. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  5. Great info, Marian. I don't know how much I'll get out of this one but you never know.

  6. In 50 months, I will be able to see my mother on a census record!

  7. I remember the excitement when the 2012 Census was released. Seems like yesterday!!