Tuesday, April 13, 2021

My 1950 U.S. Census Release To-Do List: From Address to ED

To be ready for the release of the 1950 U.S. Census next April, I'm listing ancestors of special interest and indicating their 1940 and 1950 addresses (guessing if necessary). 

The goal is to be able to browse images and locate these ancestors in the unindexed Census records that will be made public in April of 2022. To do this, I have to turn the 1950 address into an Enumeration District (ED). Then I'll only need to click through the images of that one ED to look for each ancestor or family.

Using the Unified Census ED Finder

Luckily, Stephen Morse and Joel Weintraub have an extremely powerful tool to transform an address into an ED. They call it a Unified Census ED Finder. You can find it on SteveMorse.org

Be sure you set the ED Finder to 1950, as shown in the screen shot at top. I've entered "1933 Marmion Ave" in the Bronx, New York, as my ancestor's address. However, that street appears in a number of Enumeration Districts. To narrow down my search, I need to look at a map and name other streets that are in back of or that cross with Marmion. Not crossing any streets, just on the same city block.

Looking at the Bronx map above, Elsmere Place is at the corner of this apartment building. When I select "Elsmere Pl" from the handy drop-down menu of "cross or back street on same city block" I see the number of EDs reduced to only four.

Keep adding cross or back streets

Next, looking at the map, I select "Tremont Ave" from the drop-down menu because that's the street at the other end of this city block. This reduces the number of EDs to only two. That's still too many EDs to easily browse. 

Again I add another back street from the drop-down menu, after consulting the map once more. This time, I choose the street at the very back of this same city block, which is "Prospect Ave." 

At this point, I only have a single ED listed, as shown above. To double-check, I can select the "Streets in the 1950 ED" button and click "More details." 

This takes me to a summary showing the ED and the description of the streets it includes. Note that this is a single city block. Not across any boulevards, avenues, streets, or places--just one big city block. For a city address, it's a fairly easy process to determine the proper ED, because the boundaries are easily ascertained by looking at a map.

Put the ED on your list

My final step is to write the ED on my list. Here's an excerpt of my current listing. The two ancestors who lived on Marmion Avenue should both be in ED 3-798, as listed here. I've also found other EDs for ancestors on this list. Note that I also decided to alphabetize my ancestors by surname, so I can sort that way if I choose. And I can sort by "1950 ED" in order to group all ancestors who live in one ED together for more efficient browsing when the images are released next year.

Try the Unified Census ED Finder and once you see how it works, you'll be ready to work your way down the list of ancestors little by little. 

Remember to read the "Getting Ready for the 1950 Census" introduction on Steve Morse's site. He steps through the ED Finder process using Donald Duck's address. Really! Worth a look.


  1. This is fun. I remember doing this for the 1940 US census.

  2. Thanks for all the detail in this post, Marian. I need to begin a list of relatives I want to find so I'll be ready next April.

  3. Thank you for the tips in this post, Marian! I know I won't be able to find my mom and her family in the 1950 census because they immigrated to the United States in 1952, but I should be able to find my dad and his family in the 1950 census. Thanks again!