|Excerpt from "The 1950 Censuses--How They Were Taken"|
For the 1950 Census, enumerators were asked to write down the state or foreign country where each individual was born.
Sounds straightforward until you consider how many people living in the United States were born in places where boundaries or names had changed by the time of the Census.
No More Austria-Hungary
Both of my maternal grandparents were born in part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In April of 1950, however, that entity no longer existed. As the instructions above indicate, if an enumerator had written "Austria-Hungary," the people coding the answers for tabulation were to change the entry.
They were given lists of surnames common to the 1950-era countries of Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia. Where necessary, the coders consulted the surname lists and changed the "where born" answer to replace any "Austria-Hungary" answers. I'll be very interested to see what my grandparents answered when the 1950 Census is released in 2022!
I was surprised to read that people born in Canada would be enumerated in one of two ways. If they spoke French when arriving in America, their birthplace would be listed as "Canada-French." If they weren't French-speaking when they came to America, the birthplace would be "Canada-other."
Fine print: What if the enumerator wrote only "Canada" as an individual's birthplace? The coders were provided a list of so-called "typical French-Canadian surnames." Then they replaced a birthplace of "Canada" with "Canada-French" if the individual's surname was on that list or "Canada-other" if the surname was not on the list.
See below for full listing of countries to be coded from enumerated Census pages. Eye-opening, isn't it?! I was especially struck by the list of "all other" at bottom right.
For more about the 1950 Census, please see my summary page here.