It is an exciting time for genealogists researching ancestors who lived in the United States! In April 2022, the 1950 census data will be released by NARA.
The census day was April 1, 1950, and the 72-year privacy rule means that on April 1, 2022, the information in the census can be made public. Aggregate data has previously been released, but this is the first time that individual data will be made public—and oh, what data there is!
The 1950 census form contains both individual questions and a secondary page that was filled out for each household. While there are fewer questions asked of individuals, the addition of the household page gives researchers a much richer picture of how families lived.
The individuals enumerated in each household are named with the relationship to the head, and enumerators were instructed to list them in a specific order for the first time:
- Unmarried sons & daughters in order of age
- Other relatives
- Other persons
Six races are specified on the form, and other races are expected to be specifically named. Also included for all individuals are:
- Age at last birthday
- Marital status
- Where born (state or, if born outside of the continental US, territory, possession, or foreign country).
Occupation information is asked for individuals over 14 years of age, including whether employed and how many hours worked, whether looking for work, kind of work, kind of business or industry, and the class of the employer.
Supplementary questions on the population form were asked for each fourth person enumerated, and included:
- If the individual lived in the same place one year previously, was it on a farm, and if not the same place, where the individual living one year previously (county and state)
- What country the father and mother were born in
- The highest school grade the individual attended & whether they finished the grade
- Whether the individual attended school since February 1, 1950
For individuals 14 years of age and over, the supplementary questions included:
- If looking for work, how many weeks
- How many weeks worked the previous year
- How much earned in 1949 working for someone else
- How much earned in 1949 in his own business/practice/farm
- How much received in 1949 in interest, dividends, veteran’s allowances, pensions, rents, or other income aside from earnings
Family heads were asked the same questions as above for the members of their family in the household.
- If served in the US Armed Forces (WWII, WWI, or any other time including present service)
The 1950 census asks additional questions based on the answers to the supplement questions for only the individual listed on line 29 (the last fourth person on each page):
- If worked in 1949 but not in 1950, what kind of work, what kind of industry, and class of worker
- If ever married, was the person married more than once
- If married, how many years since last marriage; if widowed, how many years since widowed; if divorced, how many years since divorced; if separated, how many years since separated
- If female and ever married, how many live births
The housing questionnaire will give a much more detailed picture of how individual households lived. Although every question is not asked of every household, the following questions are included for every unit:
- how many rooms were in the home
- the type of living quarters
- type of structure
- number of dwelling units in structure
- whether a business unit is in the structure
- condition of the unit
- whether they had indoor hot and/or cold water
- type of toilet
- whether toilet was shared or individual to unit
- whether a bathtub or shower was installed in unit
- whether the shower was shared or individual to the unit
Of particular interest to genealogists is a new question:
- “We have listed (number) persons who live here. Have we missed anyone away traveling? Babies? Lodgers? Other persons staying here who have no home anywhere else?”
In 1940, enumerators asked about individuals who were “temporarily absent,” but this more detailed question goes further by listing specific individuals who might be missed. There could still be gaps for people who moved during the period that the census was enumerated, but the specificity of this question helps reduce the possibility of leaving anyone out.
Also on the household supplement are the following questions.
For vacant units:
- whether the unit was seasonal or non-seasonal
For non-farm units:
- whether the unit was owner- or renter-occupied or vacant
For non-farm vacant units:
- if for rent, how much the unit rent was
- if for sale, how much the sale price asked was
For non-farm owner-occupied units:
- value of the property
- how many dwelling units are in the property
- if a mortgage exists on the property
For non-farm renter-occupied units:
- monthly rent paid
- itemized utitilies paid
- furnished or unfurnished
- if furnished, what would it rent for unfurnished
The following five questions are alternated between units:
- whether the kitchen sink was shared or individual to the unit & what type of kitchen fuel was used
- when the structure was built
- type of heat & type of fuel most used
- type of refrigerator & if unit has electric lighting
- if there is a radio or television in the unit
CensusTools 1950 Spreadsheet Template
CensusTools’ 1950 spreadsheet template is a huge help to researchers. Formated in the same style as the official 1950 census form, the spreadsheet makes transcribing and using the 1950 census data easier and produces an organized, attractive, and useful final research tool.
The 1950 spreadsheet is already included in our spreadsheet packet, so you will be ready to jump in when the census is released in April.
If you already have CensusTools up to 1940, you can add just the 1950 spreadsheet here.