Friday, December 20, 2019

Window into Postwar America: 1950 US Census

It's not even 2020, and I can barely contain my excitement for April of 2022. That's when the 1950 U.S. Census will be released--an important window into the demographics of postwar America.

And of course a really important source of information for genealogists!

This is the first Census that will show my mother and father together as a married couple. Three of my four grandparents were still alive, and one of my great-grandparents. Not to mention a plethora of aunts, uncles, cousins and possible cousins that I'll be able to research in greater depth.

What Questions Were Asked?

The 1950 census form was highly detailed. Everyone in the household was listed by name and relationship to head of household. Race, sex, marital status, age, where born, whether naturalized. If I don't already have someone's naturalization papers, this will be a clue to go looking!

Below, a set of questions asked of people aged 14 and older. Working? Looking for Work? Number of hours worked? Type of work and industry? Private worker, government worker, or without pay on family farm/biz?

For all people at each address, there were lots of questions about "where" -- where were they living a year ago, by county and state or foreign country. And what country were his/her mom and dad born in?! A double-check on birthplaces--fabulous clues! Where living a year ago--I'll be able to look for city directories in those places.

Also asked were detailed questions about income and military service--with check boxes to indicate a person's service in WWI, WWII, or another military action. This will give me more clues to follow up for my family's military service.

All About the Census, 1790-2000

Download free from this link 
As part of my research for a new presentation, I downloaded the U.S. government's very useful free booklet explaining all the questions asked in each Census through 2000.

The booklet, Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses from 1790 to 2000, can be downloaded for free in pdf format from this link.

Importantly, this booklet shows the questions/forms plus the instructions given to enumerators for each census.

Now I know why some of my ancestors were listed specifically as "cloakmakers" in the 1900 Census, for instance (see excerpt from enumeration instructions, below). Is it any wonder I'm so excited about the 1950 Census?

Excerpt from 1900 enumerators' instructions
PS: I'm gathering all my 1950 Census posts into a single summary page, shown on the header at top of this blog. You can visit the page via this link.

No comments:

Post a Comment