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  • Writer's pictureKarl von Loewe

The 1950 Census was released on April 1, 2022. Appropriate date.

By law, each census can only be released to the public 72 years after it is taken. The 1950 Census has not been indexed. That means, you can’t easily search for a person by name. It has been “indexed” by artificial intelligence, AI, but it is difficult to figure out how to make use of that. Optical character recognition was used, but as many researchers tend to agree, probably not to any great degree of success.

The raw data is arranged in Enumeration Districts (EDs). Each ED may contain a handful of pages or dozens, filled in by the census-taker. A large city may have thousands of EDs; Minneapolis, Minnesota, for example, has 1025. You need to know what street address your subject lived at. A cross-street is often necessary to reduce the number of sheets you have to view. There is a website that is essential to your search. It’s especially useful in cities with many EDs. It is: .

You enter the address with as much info has you can. You will then see the ED number(s) for that address. Click on the numbers below “1950 ED Numbers Corresponding to Your Location”. You will have a choice of viewers to display them in: NARA (National Archives and Records Administration), Family Search, or Ancestry

From there on in, it will be easy-peasy. Not exactly. As in the past, there wasn’t always someone at home when the census-taker knocked. As a result, the street I grew up on, with ten homes on it, could be pieced together only on five pages. In 1940 two pages had six of those homes listed. By the end of the year most likely Family Search and/or Ancestry will have indexed the records for all states. In the meantime, enjoy the hunt!

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