Who I’m Focusing on in 1950

The 1950 US Census will be released to the public on 1 April 2022.

There are ways to find people in the 1950 census before it is indexed (and even after it’s indexed for people whose names are issues). Those ways hinge on knowing where the person probably lived in 1950, determining the enumeration district for that location, and manually searching that district.

Personally I am going to focus on the individuals in my family whose residences were stable during the mid-20th century and search for them. There will be aunts, uncles, and cousins in those areas as well who will be “easy pickings” to find. I have about seven rural townships where I will search for relatives initially. Additionally, I will search two small towns whose population is under 3,000 each.

I have eleven ancestors who were alive in 1950. I will search the townships where they were likely living first and then complete the others that are on my list. As I read those townships, I’ll be on the lookout for other relatives beyond my immediate ancestors. I won’t be looking for specific people, I’ll be looking at each name and seeing if it “rings a bell” in my head. Is that the most efficient approach?

Maybe. Maybe not. But until the census is indexed, finding anyone is a manual search process. There’s not need to read those pages for names more times than I need to. I won’t completely transcribe the entries at the time. My focus will be on searching the census. I will transcribe the complete entry later as I need it. I will create a spreadsheet for each person that includes:

  • Last name,
  • First name,
  • State,
  • County,
  • Township/Town/Village
  • Enumeration District
  • Page
  • Line number for the head of household
  • Comments–anything unusual I noted about the enumeration, etc.

I think I’m going with line number of the head of household in my spreadsheet to make copying/pasting the information from one person’s entry to another one as easy as possible. I’m not creating citations. I’m creating a spreadsheet for my own use.

This approach may not work for everyone. I know how I work and what works for me. I may never get to transcribing all the entries I put in the chart. But I know that given how many relatives I have in these areas, I want to read the entire townships first to see if there’s anything “earthshattering” in the enumerations (which I’m doubting).

Check out my 1950 Census prep webinar.