1950 USA Census
By Dave Gorz, GGD Treasurer
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has released the 1950 US Census. The pages of the census were scanned and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and artificial intelligence were used to try to interpret the names. OCR of handwriting is still in its infancy, for example one family found their surname "Gorz" in the index as "Dary". They only found the census information because they knew the street name.
Any group of records is tagged as to state, county, and city and also by Enumeration District (ED). For very large cities, such as Chicago, the number of ED’s is quite large.
If you know the address of the people you’re looking for, the ED within the city can be determined and that narrows down the search. This web site will help you determine the ED:
Note that there is a drop down list at the very top of the web page where the year of the census can be set so make sure it is set for 1950.
There are drop down lists where you can enter the state, county and city and entering those three will give you a list of ED’s. If you enter Illinois, Cook, Chicago, you get hundreds of them. So the next step to narrow things down is to enter a house number and street name, if you know them. But there’s still more to go. If the street is quite long, there will by many ED’s associated with it, but you can continue to narrow things down by entering the cross streets at both ends of the block and/or entering a street that runs parallel to the street being searched. For small towns you’ll probably get only a few ED’s, so you may not need to enter the cross streets and searching should go quickly.
Many small towns do not show up in the list of towns/cities in a county but you’re given the option of selecting “Other” and entering a name. If that fails to give you ED’s, you may have to look at an Enumeration District map to find the number for your town. There is a link button for viewing the ED map for the state and county you’re searching.
After entering all the information you know for the location you’re searching, clicking on an ED number will take you to another page where you can select the viewer that you wish to use. The current choices are the NARA viewer, Family Search, and Ancestry; though right after the census was released the Ancestry viewer was not available. It appears that the Family Search and Ancestry viewer web sites are in the process of indexing the names, so it may take some time before they’re useable.
Make a note of the ED of interest because once you have that you can go directly to the NARA site and enter it along with the state and county and start searching again.
Although they’re not quite ready to go, Ancestry and MyHeritage have a 1950 census web page.