Thursday, July 15, 2021

1950 Census Occupations: Special Care!


As part of my prep for the release of the 1950 Census on April 1, 2022, I'm making notes about items to check when I browse the images for key ancestors. The 1950 Census has so much detail for genealogy purposes...including occupation. 

How will the 1950 US Census show the occupation of my ancestors? Some worked in "occupations for which special care is necessary" according to the instructions in the Enumerator's Reference Manual, which can be read and downloaded for free. But there are distinctions, and I'm not sure exactly how the enumerator will have captured the exact nature of these occupations.

Dad = travel agent or business owner?

Will the 1950 enumerator specify that my father, Harold Burk (1909-1978) was not just an agent but a travel agent? Or will the enumerator show him as a business owner (of the Burk Travel Service in Manhattan)?

My uncle, Sidney Burk (1914-1995), also worked in the business. Will he be shown as a travel agent, specifically? 

Uncle = teacher?

Will the 1950 enumerator specify that my uncle, Fred Shaw (1912-1991), was an economics or history teacher at a high school in New York City? The enumerator is supposed to identify the main subject taught by teachers. I'm going to see which subject was considered my uncle's main subject, since he taught both.

When is a clerk not a clerk?

The instructions say that a clerk who sells items in a store is to be enumerated as a salesman. A few of my ancestors worked in retailing. Will the Census show their occupations as clerk or as salesman or saleswoman?? I can't wait to find out.


Think about what you expect to see as your ancestors' occupations on the 1950 Census, and whether any special rules for enumerators apply. You may be surprised to see just how the occupations are described--and in how much detail.


  1. Will they enumerate "Doctor" or "General Practitioner"?

    1. I suspect enumerators would write "physician" or "doctor" or "surgeon" but not "general practitioner." We'll have to wait and see!

  2. This will be fun. My grandparents raised chickens and sold eggs - wonder how they'll list them?

    1. I don't see a special category for this. If it was their main occupation, the enumerator would have to specify. Looking forward to finding out next year!