Sunday, April 18, 2021

April 1, 1950: Census Day News

As background for researching ancestors who were enumerated in the U.S. Census taken on Saturday, April 1, 1950, I'm looking at newspapers in the areas where they lived. I want to be ready when this mid-century Census is released to the public on April 1, 2022.

After looking at only a couple of newspapers, I learned two things that encouraged me to keep looking at other newspapers in the coming weeks.

  1. Some special aspects of the Census were highlighted in areas where they were of significance. This was the case for merchant ships docked in New York City (see below). I learned a few tidbits about the questionnaires for crew members and how the count was conducted.
  2. Small, local newspapers listed the names of enumerators! Maybe your ancestor was an enumerator or was mentioned as being interviewed by an enumerator?

New York City: Counting crew on merchant ships

The official start of Census Day was reported in a long front-page article in the New York Times. Top local officials were quoted, but no local enumerators were named. For broader context, I browsed ads (ladies wearing hats and gloves), real estate ads, political news, radio and TV news, and the weather report.

A related Census article printed that day told of crew members on 2,000 merchant ships worldwide completing a special Census form. Each crew member at a U.S. port was to answer 23 questions about demographics, citizenship, and income. (However, crew members whose vessels were at sea or in foreign ports answered only 9 Census questions.) 

Crew members in U.S. ports were being counted as part of the population of that location--meaning those on vessels at New York City piers would be counted as part of the Big Apple's population. 

Bucyrus, Ohio: "Shnozzle counting" and names of enumerators

"Shnozzle counting in the rain began in Bucyrus and Crawford county as some 38 Census enumerators took to the roads and streets today to check the county's approximately 35,000 population for all sorts of things."

That's the rather informal first paragraph of the front-page story in the Telegraph-Forum newspaper of Bucyrus, Ohio. Some of hubby's ancestors lived in the area.

After describing some highlights of the Census timing (see snippet at right), the article went on to list the names of all 38 enumerators! None were ancestors I'm researching, but maybe I'll be lucky in another small local newspaper.

And of course, I continued browsing that day's paper for more historical context--such as the report of local farms being larger in 1950 than in 1900, also on page one.

Over the coming weeks, I'll be browsing local newspapers for more insights into the 1950 Census and anything else I can learn about the people or areas where ancestors lived in 1950. Local newspaper reports can be informative (and entertaining) background!

1 comment:

  1. Lots of interesting things here. I like that the enumerators received 7 cents per name!