Every ten years, historians and genealogists eagerly anticipate the release of a new decade of United States census records.* On April 1, 2022, the National Archives, opens a new window made public the 1950 census records. You can find indexes to search as well as record scans at the National Archives 1950 Census, opens a new window page. Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming, the Indian reservations, and most U.S. territories are already searchable. For those locations not yet processed, if you know where your subject lived, you can see the original records and look at the scans.
Online genealogy sites have started to work with the the new data, too, making it more accessible. Ancestry.com, opens a new window is scanning and indexing the 1950 records, and you can search them with a free account and even sign up to be notified when the state you want to search has been indexed here, opens a new window. You can also search for free on AncestryLibrary, opens a new window at many of our branches., opens a new window FamilySearch.org, opens a new window has volunteers lined up to inspect census scans and make corrections, and MyHeritage, opens a new window is also making records available for free on their site.
These records are not only helpful for locating relatives and other people throughout U.S.history. They can also reveal family relationships, ages, occupations, and more. Pinpointing the exact place a person lived can help you uncover other information about them, leading you to property records, local newspapers, and other records specific to that location. Census record data helps fill in family history, gives historians the facts they need for articles, books, and projects, and provides writers with details to enrich their stories or fill in historical backgrounds.
Census records are also a window into American life and population trends., opens a new window In 1950, 57% of Americans lived in metropolitan areas (up almost 5% from 1940), and the population was booming with a 14.5% increase. The Great Migration was affecting demographics, as African Americans, looking for better jobs and better living conditions, moved in vast numbers from the more rural South into Northern cities.
While 20 basic questions, opens a new window were asked of all people in 1950, one out of every five or six people was chosen to be sampled and asked additional questions, such as where their parents were born, their highest grade of school completed, and how much money they earned in the previous year. College students and military members were counted where they went to school and were stationed. Indian reservations had separate schedules, and enumerators made a special effort to collect the information of people living in transient places, such as campgrounds and hotels. This census was the last to be collected completely in person on multi-family census sheets and the first to have its results tabulated by a computer.
If you are curious about your family or want to know what America was like as the first baby boomers were born in the aftermath of World War II, go take a look at the newly released 1950 census.
*U.S. law requires that census records be kept confidential for 72 years after they are collected.