Saturday, March 12, 2022

1950 US Census Prep: Finding Small Town EDs

The 1950 US Census is almost here! Only 20 more days until this mid-century Census is released to the public by the US National Archives.

Even though there will be a basic index and the ability to search by name and location, nobody expects the initial index to be perfect or complete. Just in case, I've been using 1950ish addresses to locate the Enumeration District for my ancestors so I can browse the ED pages when they're made public. Or, at the very least, be able to search by name and ED, to be more specific about my searches. 

Most of my ancestors were in big cities in 1950. I described how to turn a big-city street address into an ED in an earlier post, using the incredibly powerful (and free!) Unified Census ED Finder on 

Small town ED process

However, there's a slightly different process for finding the EDs of towns with fewer than 5,000 residents, because Steve Morse has no tables for towns that small. (He explains why on this FAQ page.)

Here's the process for finding a small town ED.

As shown in the screen grab at top, I'm using the example of the small town of Woodbury, Connecticut, which had 2,564 residents in 1950

First, I went to the Unified Census ED Finder page, and used the drop-down menus to specify the state of Connecticut and the county of Litchfield, where Woodbury is located.

Although some larger population centers are available in the drop-down menu for town/city, Woodbury is not. So instead, I selected "other" in that drop-down menu area and typed the town name (purple arrow).

ED map or description or both?

There are five possible EDs in this general area, listed in numerical order in the image at top. I don't want to browse all five in search of a Woodbury resident.

To narrow down my options, I checked the ED descriptions (in image at top, see green arrow). 

This took me to a page with written descriptions of the five possible EDs for Woodbury, as shown directly above. However, I don't know Woodbury well enough to determine from these descriptions which ED would be the most likely for my purposes. Anyone who knows the streets might take a solid guess from these descriptions.

Then I clicked to see the ED maps for the entire county (orange arrow). This took me to the list of map links shown above. The first five of the jpegs are what I wanted to view. These were sections of the entire county map, and I wanted to navigate around each map section to look for Woodbury. 

Most of the town is in one ED 

Of course, the fifth map I checked was the one where most of Woodbury is located. As shown directly above, the town is marked on the map and the ED number for the vast majority of that area is noted as 3-121

Combining the maps with the descriptions narrows things down considerably, even allowing for edges of the town that stick out beyond these straight lines.


  1. I found using the maps easier than trying to decipher the descriptions of each ED. Even there, you need a map to see the description's boundaries. Thanks for all your posts. I am getting very excited about April 1.

  2. Very useful info! Thanks so much for taking the time to explain this, Marian!