Monday, March 21, 2022

1950 US Census Search: Look for Head of Household


The 1950 US Census will be released on April 1st!

Recently, the US Census Bureau hosted a webinar at which Census and US National Archives experts talked about the background of this Census and what will be available on the day of release. That webinar is posted on YouTube.

Claire Kluskens of NARA discussed the basic name and location index that will accompany the 1950 US Census release. It could very well give us a head start on our searches!

My key takeaways from her comments are shown in the image at top.

  1. Try the search functions but remember the name index is only a first draft and will need to be refined with the assistance of members of the public who submit corrections to NARA.
  2. Indexing was line by line on each sheet of the Census, showing the line number and the name written on that line.
  3. Enumerators were trained to write the surname of the head of household and the given name/initials. Others in the household who shared the same surname will NOT have the surname listed on the line number, only the given name or initials.
  4. If someone in the household has a different surname (such as a married daughter or a lodger), that line will show the surname and given name.
  5. BEST SEARCH STRATEGY, says this expert, is to look for the head of household if known--because that line will have the person's full name.
You can try your search with a combination of the head of household's surname, given name, and location (ED or city/town and county). 

Use all your usual search strategies but be prepared to browse by ED if your search doesn't lead you to your ancestors.

Meanwhile, Ancestry and Family Search and MyHeritage will all be working hard to index the Census. 

For more 1950 US Census tips and info, see my summary page here.


  1. I think I'll stick with my strategy of browsing, since I spent all that time looking for the ED numbers.

  2. Lots of information for April 1st. Coming soon.