Monday, July 26, 2021

1950 US Census: How Do My Ancestors Compare?


When the 1950 U.S. Census is released on April 1, 2022, I'll have to browse for my ancestors by Enumeration District. No index, no transcriptions, just page-by-page browsing when the Census is initially made public.

After I find ancestors, I'll want to interpret their answers to Census questions in the context of the time and place.

Census number-crunching

The government has already crunched many numbers from the 1950 Census and released analyses (now online).

For instance, one of the Census questions is about 1949 income. I expect my middle-class ancestors will be above the national average of $3,100 in annual family income. The Census Bureau table at top right summarizes the number of families in each income bracket during 1949.

The Census Bureau also released reports about general population characteristics, based on analyses of 1950 Census data. 

As shown at left, the number of college graduates increased dramatically from 1940 to 1950, according to Census data.

Many in my mother's and father's generation were the first in the family to attend or graduate college, being the children of immigrants. A good number of these ancestors served during World War II and went to college on the G.I. Bill.

In my husband's family, ancestors were long-established in their communities and some represented the third generation to go to college. Being aware of these trends and each family's history will help me understand the answers I see in the 1950 Census.

Census by region

For comparison purposes, the Census Bureau also reported statistics by region. Many of my hubby's ancestors lived in the North Central region, while many of my ancestors lived in the Northeast region. As I interpret the answers of our ancestors, I'll try to compare them with their counterparts in the same region, as well as with national trends for that era. 

Read up in advance and be ready for the 1950 U.S. Census release in 2022.

For more about the 1950 US Census release in 2022, see my summary page here.


  1. I'm certainly looking forward to the 1950 Census! Thanks for your last couple of posts on it! :)

  2. Lots to think about with this census - hurry up, April 2022!

  3. My mom and dad were the first to go to college. Oh wait, Momma’s aunts did too. In 1950 they should be listed as teachers. My parents were not yet married. Will they be listed with their parents even though they were away at college?

    1. Supposedly college students in dorms were enumerated at the college, not where they lived with parents. So I'm guessing you'll have to see what EDs the colleges were in. Good luck!

  4. I usually do this for my more distant ancestors. It will be interesting to analyze the incomes of my Mom, Dad and grandparents in the 1950 census -- especially my parents who will appear as a couple for the first time.