Exciting times for genealogists

What exciting times for genealogists! Unless you have been totally oblivious to the genealogy world, you know that the 1950 census was released to the public on April 1. Since this only happens every 10 years, it is an event to remember.

While I did not stay up on March 31 waiting for the release, I did prepare for it by participating in several virtual events and discussions. I downloaded free forms and thought about who I would search for first.

Did you know that the census is available to search and view for free through the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) website ? Yes, it is entirely free – no subscription, no fees. And, the site is easy to use!

The index was generated using Artificial Intelligence technology on handwritten records. Since NARA recognizes that this process will create errors, there is also an easy transcription process that can be used by anyone to correct and add information. You simply enter your email address and a code is sent to your email for verification. Then you are ready to enter information. It is added to the census after verification.

An interesting feature of the 1950 census is the sample line. Every fifth line on the population schedule is a sample line and additional questions are included for those individuals. These questions include country of birth for the individual’s parents, grade of school completed, income received the previous year, and much more. One of my grandparents was listed on a sample line and I learned more about his employment through the additional questions.

The NARA website not only allows you to search the population schedules and add/correct information, it also includes additional information and forms under the Resources tab. For example, if the individual on the last sample line on the page was 14 years of age or older, there were additional questions included.

If your family included Native Americans living on a reservation in 1950, they were enumerated on the regular population schedule and on a separate form which included questions regarding additional names the individual was known by, the tribe he belonged to, and the clan he belonged to. The enumerators were employees of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Note that Native Americans who were not living on a reservation were only enumerated using the standard population schedule.

The 1950 Census also included a few counties that served as an experiment for self-enumeration. The counties involved were Ingham and Livingston Counties, Michigan, and Franklin County, Ohio. Apparently, the census bureau considered the experiment a success because the 1950 census was the last census where enumerators visited most of the households and compiled the multi-family census sheets. Beginning in 1960, census forms were mailed to households, completed by a household member and mailed back to the census bureau.

So enjoy searching the 1950 census! Who knows what new information you will add to your family’s history!

Happy Hunting

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