Saturday, February 19, 2022

1950 US Census Prep: Using ED Maps and Descriptions

A good number of my ancestors lived in New York City--many in the Bronx, some in Queens, some in Brooklyn, a few in Manhattan, but none in Staten Island. 

As I get ready to find them in the 1950 US Census when the records are released in April, I'm finding I have to dig even deeper to determine the specific Enumeration District for a few of these Big Apple residents. This holds true for other big cities, by the way, as I've discovered searching for Cleveland ancestors.

Details matter

Here's a mini case study featuring ED maps and ED descriptions. My cousins lived at 3706 72d Street in Queens, New York. But studying the map, I see that the borough of Queens also has 72d Avenue, 72d Avenue Ext, 72d Crescent, 72d Drive, 72d Lane, 72d Place, and 72d Road. 

So my first step was to be sure I entered the correct street name when using the nifty Unified Census ED Finder by Steve Morse and Joel Weintraub. 

With only the street name/number, there were too many potential Enumeration Districts for me to browse. As the site directs, I next looked at the Google map and entered a cross street (Broadway) and a back street (37th Avenue) for the block where these cousins lived. 

These two additional details narrowed the number of EDs to three. I couldn't enter a fourth cross or back street, because my cousins lived on a triangular city block. 

Go to the NARA map

My next step was to look at the National Archives map for the three EDs that were around the address. The Steve Morse site has an easy one-step process to go to the maps. Be sure you set the year to 1950. 

Once I located the map for this section of Queens, I enlarged it to read the street names. I found my cousins' address was at a location numbered as block 12 on the NARA ED map (at top). 

The little white star on image above is where my cousins lived in 1950. But the orange lines delineating the districts didn't show me precisely which ED my cousin lived in. What now?

Read the NARA map description

To further narrow the number of EDs, I clicked on the link to read the transcription of each district in turn. The description for 41-598 wasn't as close to the address as the descriptions for 41-608 and 41-880, shown here:

It wasn't enough to glance at the boundary descriptions, because 72d Street, 37th Avenue, and Broadway are listed on both ED 41-608 and ED 41-880.

I looked more closely at the specific blocks included within each ED. Remember, the NARA map at top shows that the address is on block 12.

Block 12 is described as being within ED 41-608. So on April 1st, I'll be looking for my cousins in this single ED!

For more about the 1950 US Census release, see my summary page here. To learn more about the US National Archives ED maps and other maps of interest to genealogists, see here.

1 comment:

  1. I don't envy you searching in big cities. I'll be able to find my children's ancestors because they all lived in smaller towns, except one in Sacramento.