Friday, June 4, 2021

Instructions for 1950 US Census Enumerators: The Fine Print

In previous posts, I've highlighted elements of the Enumerator's Reference Manual that was the training guide for how the 1950 U.S. Census was conducted. You can read or download the main manual here.

Supplemental Manual

Today, I'm looking at the supplement to the main manual. You can read and download it here.

This supplemental manual includes detailed instructions for how enumerators should list people in five specific areas, as shown in the excerpt here. 

If you suspect you have ancestors who might be enumerated in one of these five types of areas, it's worth checking the instructions in this brief, 16-page supplement.

Reading the Fine Print

The fine print explains who should be enumerated as living at one of these areas, versus who should be enumerated at their regular residence. For instance, staff members who have living quarters at a hospital, mental institution, or prison would be enumerated there. Staff members who don't regularly live on-site would be enumerated at their usual residence, according to the fine print.

Knowing that enumeration of large institutions might require many hours, enumerators were instructed to determine which inmates might be leaving on April 1, and count them before they depart. Also, when new inmates entered an institution on April 1, enumerators had to determine whether they were enumerated at a different residence--and if not, count them as living at the institution. My guess is that there will be some overlap or omissions or both.

Patient, orphan, prisoner?

The supplemental manual tells enumerators what to label each person who lives in an institution, as shown here. The idea is to show the relationship of each person to the institution.

"Inmate" is only to be used if the other descriptions aren't descriptive enough.

Glance at the supplement if you think an ancestor might be enumerated in one of the five special areas, because the instructions will help you interpret what you see in the 1950 Census.

PS: For more about preparing for the 1950 US Census release in 2022, please see my special page here.

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