Obtaining EDs for the 1950 Censuses in One Step
Frequently Asked Questions
REVISED VERSION FOR 1950

Stephen P. Morse, PhD & Joel D. Weintraub, PhD

This page has been rewritten and simplified specifically for the 1950 census. To see the generic FAQ page, click here.  However be forewarned that the generic FAQ is out of date and no longer being maintained.

Sections:

100 Background
200 How to Find ED Numbers
300 Viewing Microfilms
400 Limitations and Explanations
500 Miscellaneous




100 BACKGROUND


101. What is an ED?

ED stands for Enumeration District.  An enumeration district is defined by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) as a "basic geographic area of a size that could be covered by a single census taker (enumerator) within one census period."
 

102. Why do I need to know about EDs?

The easiest way to search a census is by name.  Unfortunately that is not always possible.  For one thing, the name index for the 1950 census will not be available when the census becomes public on April 1, 2022.  And even when the name index is finally available, you might have trouble finding a person because of pronunciation errors, transcription errors, or enumerator errors.  In such cases you would need to search for the person by location (address). However the information in the census is not arranged by address but rather by ED.  This has been the case since 1880.

So the first step in finding a person by location is to determine the ED.  This may or may not be difficult, depending on where the person lived. The One-Step Unified ED Finder will be useful for determining the ED.


103. Is there a full name index for the 1950 census?

The US government has no plans to produce such an index for the 1950 census.  However, once the census films are made public, it will be possible for private firms to index the names.  This has already happened for the earlier census years.  Furthermore, non-commercial organizations may also produce a 1950 name index such as was done by a consortium of parties for the 1940 census.


104. What can I do on this site?

This site does not contain information about individuals named in the census.  It does however help you find the ED so that you can locate a person in the census.

This website is most useful when you can't find a person on the census by doing a name search but you know where the person lived.  It presents an interactive interface (the Unified ED Finder that allows you to "compute" the ED for urban as well as rural areas.

For most urban areas of over 5,000 in 1950, the Unified ED Finder finds the ED based on the street and cross streets of the known address.  For small towns and rural areas, the Unified ED Finder searches the ED text definitions to find all EDs that mention the community names.
 

105. What's the difference between this site and others that use ED descriptions and numbers to find urban 1950 residences?

We anticipate that our urban ED descriptions are much more detailed than found elsewhere.  This One-Step site includes every street in the ED.  This should make it easier to find the ED when you know the street address of an urban area.

ED maps of large urban areas typically don't display the prefix of the ED number.  That prefix usually identifies the county, but for cities over 50,000 the prefix identifies the city.  The tools on the One-Step site always display the prefix.

The One-Step site also contains transcriptions of the boundary streets (and geographical features where appropriate) of each ED.  These were transcribed from NARA images and are presented here as a convenience.  They also serve as a check on each ED's coverage.  The boundary streets are shown in the following order traversing the ED -- north, east, south, west.
 

106. Where was the 1950 data for this site obtained?

The interactive interface presented here is based on the data that was transcribed by Dr. Joel Weintraub with the help of many volunteers.  The data was obtained from:
NARA film T1224
ED maps from the NARA catalog
census district maps produced by the One-Step cite from circa 1950 maps

107. When will the 1950 census be available for viewing, and where?

By federal statute, the census is sealed for 72 years for privacy reasons.  So on April 1, 2022 the 1950 census will become available for viewing at the National Archives building in Washington DC and at the NARA Regional facilities. On that day it will probably be accessible online as well, as was done for the 1940 census.

The NARA facilities have the 1950 ED definitions on 38 microfilm rolls (publication T1224).  The One-Step site scanned those 38 rolls and made them available online using the One-Step ED Descriptions Tool.  The ED map images for 1950 are on the NARA website.  They are also accessible through the One-Step ED Maps Tool .


108. How was sampling done in the 1950 census?

Up until the 1940 US census, every question was filled in for every person.  In 1940 the decision was made to start sampling -- that is, asking a basic set of questions to everyone and additional questions to a  random few.  This was the death-blow of the census for genealogists, because from this point on the basic questions contained less and less information.

The blank 1950 population schedule we have shows that the lines are numbered from 1 to 30, and that those person's whose names appeared on six of those lines were asked additional questions.  There were six different sampling styles used in the 1950 census, each with a different pattern of sampling lines.   Those six different patterns of sampling lines are:
lines 1, 6, 11, 16, 21, 26
lines 2, 7, 12, 17, 22, 27
lines 3, 8, 13, 18, 23, 28
lines 4, 9, 14, 19, 24, 29
lines 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30



200 HOW TO FIND ED NUMBERS


201. My state has not yet been name-indexed and I don't know the address of the person I want.  What do I do?

In this case you need to know exactly where the person lived when the census was taken.  If the person lived in a city or urban area, a street address will be most helpful.  For rural areas, you need to know the county and the name of the town or township.

See if a city directory or telephone directory for your urban area is available.  That might show the address of the person you want.  These city directories are not government records.  The private companies that compiled the city directories tried to include every male of employable age, workers under the age of twenty, male students, working women, widows, and girls of marriageable age.

Old city directories and telephone books are generally available in the reference sections of public libraries in large cities.  Most library reference departments will check a name for free or at a nominal cost; often the request can be made online or by telephone.

City directories are also available through the Family History Library.  See FHL City Directories for a list of their holdings.  Another useful list of available city directories is at http://www.uscitydirectories.com/index.html.  See also http://sites.google.com/site/onlinedirectorysite/ for as complete a list of city directories as possible.

Other potential sources for a person's 1950 location are: Social Security applications, old letters and envelopes, telephone directories, death certificates, birth certificates, naturalization papers, ship manifests, wedding certificates, school records, religious records, voter registration, and U.S. Census records from other years.
 

202. My state has not yet been name-indexed.  However I do have the address of the person I want.  How do I find the ED number?

You can do this without using the One-Step website but it will take time.  The definitions of each of the 230,000 or so 1950 EDs can be found in NARA microfilm series T1224.  You could go through these definitions trying to find the ED that contains your address.  However the definitio    ns might show only the boundary streets or, even worse, it might show the political boundaries only.  Another strategy is to see if NARA has 1950 ED maps of your locality online, and go through those maps to find the ED that contains your address.  In either case, the procedure entails looking for the definition of each and every ED in the city or all the EDs on the official map, and trying to determine if your street address is there.  For large cities this could be a very challenging task  An alternative to using the microfilm rolls or ED maps directly is to use the One-Step Unified ED Finder.  See question 204 for details on using the One-Step tool.

 
203.  What is the Unified ED Finder Tool?

Initially there was a tool on the One-Step website for finding EDs in large cities and another for finding EDs in rural areas.  All that changed back in 2011 (just in time for the opening of the 1940 census) when the two separate tools were merged into a single tool that covers both cases.  That single tool is the One-Step Unified ED Finder.


204. How does this One-Step website help me find a 1950 ED number?

We'll address this for both large cites as well as rural areas.

Large Cities

Our website determines the ED for you by consulting ED tables that we generated from the T1224 microfilm and urban ED maps.  These tables contain all streets that are in each ED for selected cities.  So you enter your street and the website can tell you which EDs that street passes through.  If it is contained in only one ED, your task of finding the ED is finished.  Otherwise you can enter additional (cross) streets and the website will list all EDs common to those streets.  By entering enough additional streets, the website will be able to narrow the possibilities down to only a single ED.  If there are still multiple EDs after entering the cross streets, then enter additional streets to complete the closed city block.
 
We have generated tables for all urban areas of 5,000 or more.  That comes to over 2400 cities.

Rural Areas

Although we are using the term "rural areas," this really refers to any areas (urban or rural) for which we have not generated ED tables.  For these areas we allow you to search not by streets and cross streets but rather by terms used in the definition of the ED.  You do this search by selecting the "Other" choice instead of the name of the city.  Once you select "Other", a field opens up in which you can type in the name of the rural area.


205. What is meant by cross street and back street?

There are places on the One-Step website where it refers to cross streets.  In this sense, they are streets that you suspect would be in the same ED as the address you are interested in.  So it will probably be the two streets at each corner of the linear block containing your address.  By supplying the street name, and the names of the two adjacent cross streets, there is a good chance you will have three streets, all in the same ED.  And the One-Step Unified ED Finder will tell you the EDs common to the streets you have selected.

(Note the use of the terms "linear block" in the paragraphs above.  This reflects the common usage of the term "block" -- i.e., "He lives on the 1400 block of Jones Street."  This is not to be confused with a "rectangular block," which is a closed geometric figure.)

There is at least one other street that is probably also in the same ED.  That is the fourth street that defines the rectangular city block on which your address is located.  We shall refer to that as the back street.   So if the One-Step Unified ED Finder is still reporting more than one common ED after you have selected the given street and the two adjacent cross streets, try adding the back street or streets to the selected list of streets.  Although most city blocks are rectangles, there are also cases in which the city block could be a triangle, a pentagon, or worse.  In the case of a triangle, there is no back street, for a pentagon there are two back streets, etc.


206. How can I use this One-Step website to find cross streets (and back streets) that are near the address that I'm looking for?

 See question 205 for a definition of cross street and back street.

A quick way to find these streets is to use the One-Step Unified ED Finder to select a street, type in a house number, and then click the map button.  This will send a request to mapping service (Google Maps) to display a modern-day map of the area that includes the address.  If the street names and house numbers have not changed since 1950, then the cross streets and back streets will show up on the map.

If there have been significant changes since 1950, it will be necessary to seek out a map from that time period.  Such maps can sometimes be found in city directories.  Also local and state historical societies usually have old maps, and will often look up a street on a telephone request.  You can also consult the One-Step Changed Street Names Tool to see if street names have changed or houses have been renumbered.

You can also use the map button of the One-Step Unified ED Finder after you have selected a pair of streets and want to know a third street in order to further narrow down the set of possible EDs.  In this case you won't be asked for a house number -- the mapping service will display a map of the intersection of those two streets.  Once you've selected a third street, the map button no longer appears.  The reason is that the mapping service is unable to handle a request containing three streets unless those streets have a common point of intersection.

A word of caution about directional streets such as E 48th Street.  Such streets are listed in our tables with the direction last, so it appears as 48th E.  However passing such a value to the mapping services will not work as they expect the direction to come first.  You will need to edit the street name appropriately once you get to the mapping service.
 

207. Can you give some examples showing how to use this One-Step website?

Here's one that I received from an actual user of this site.  She was trying to determine the ED for 408 41st Street in Camden New Jersey for 1930.  But you should be able to understand the system and apply it to any address for the 1950 census.  We will be using the One-Step Unified ED Finder.

a. From the list of states, select New Jersey.  A list of cities appears.

b. From the list of cities, select Camden.  A list of streets appears.

c. From the list of streets select 41st Street.  The following appears:
A list of cross  or back streets on the same city block
A list of ED numbers corresponding to the selected 41st Street -- that list shows 4-52 and 4-59
So now we know that 41st Street runs through two EDs.  To find out which one we want, we need to know the cross street at 408 41st Street.

d. The form has a place to enter a house number.  Enter 408 and press the map button.  A map appears showing that the cross street at 408 41st Street is High Street.

e. From the list of cross or back streets, select High Street.  The ED numbers section now contains only 4-52.

So now we know that the only enumeration district common to both 41st Street and High Street is 4-52, and that should be the ED for 408 41st Street.
 

Here's an even more interesting example, this one for my own family.  My grandfather lived at 172 Henry Street in Manhattan in 1930.

a. From the list of states, select New York.  A list of cities appears

b. From the list of cities, select Manhattan.  A list of streets appears.

c. From the list of streets select Henry.  The following appears:
A list of cross  or back streets on the same city block
A list of ED numbers corresponding to the selected Henry Street -- that list shows 16 EDs
So now we know that Henry Street runs through 16 EDs and we need to add some cross streets in order to narrow this list down

d. The form has a place to enter the house number.  Enter 172 and press the map button.  A map appears showing that 172 Henry is between Rutgers and Jefferson.  (The map didn't list the names of the cross streets initially but it did after I used the zoom feature of the map to get more detail.)

e. From the list of cross or back streets, select Rutgers.  This reduces the number of common enumeration districts to 4 -- namely 31-13, 31-16, 31-91, and 31-92.  And another list of cross or back streets appears.

f. From the new list of cross or back streets select Jefferson.  Now there are only two common enumeration districts -- 31-13 and 31-92.  And yet another list of cross or back streets appears.

g. Go back to the window containing the map that was generated in step d (that window is still around) and find the fourth street that completes the city block containing 172 Henry.  It is Madison.

h. From the newest list of cross or back streets select Madison.  Finally there is only one common ED -- 31-13.  That is the result we were looking for.
 

208. What if the person I'm looking for resided in an institution?

Institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, and even large apartment complexes are sometimes given an ED to themselves.  In other cases, institutions are included with other residences by street address.  The drop-down list of streets on the One Step Unified ED Finder sometimes includes the names of such institutions rather than actual streets.  This generally corresponds to situations where the institution occupies an entire ED.

When an institution has its own ED number, the One-Step tables may not include the actual streets that bound the institution as being part of that ED.  This is not a problem when you are searching for the institution by name rather than address.  But you might have an address and not realize that it is an institution with its own ED.  In that case, if you select the street name from the dropdown list, you will fail to get the ED number for that institution.

To compensate for this, we sometimes include the institution in address form in our street dropdown list, with the house number coming after the street name.  For example, suppose the Jewish Home for the Aged is at 302 Silver Avenue and is in its own ED.  Our street drop-down list would include "Jewish Home for the Aged" and might also include "Silver Ave #302".  So if someone was about to select Silver Avenue from the street drop-down list, he would see the special entry for 302 Silver Avenue immediately following the generic Silver Avenue entry, and would know to select that instead.
 

209. Why can't I get a unique ED from a search on the Unified Tool?

The Unified Tool tries to get down to a single ED number for your searches.  After you enter one to as many as four streets on the block that your 1950 residence is on, we expect that a single ED number will result.  But it doesn’t always happen.  Why not?

First, the configuration of city blocks within a city may not resemble the arrangement of kernels on an ear of corn.  If they did, then entering all four street names on a typical block should yield a single ED number.  But what if that arrangement is more varied.  To show this, draw on a piece of paper a large square.  That will represent an area of a city and the lines will represent streets.  Assume each straight leg represents a different street name. Let’s divide the box into quarters, but only draw the outline of the quarter on the lower left part of the box.  Now, let’s say the smaller square is one ED, and the remaining (larger) part of the square is another ED.  Remember, the lines you drew are streets.  You should see that all the streets in the smaller ED are also contained in the larger ED (different ED number).  If you were searching an address that was in the smaller ED, even entering all four boundary streets would still give both ED numbers as a result.

 There are other geometries that can cause you to not get down to a single ED.  For example, suppose that there were two EDs within a city block.  For reasons we won't go into here, we needed to consider the four boundary streets of the block to be in both EDs in order for our algorithms to work.  So selecting the four boundary streets will not result in a unique ED.  There are many examples in Manhattan where a block is divided into two or more EDs.  One such example is the block bounded by E 15th Street on the north, First Avenue on the east, E 14th Street on the south, and Second Avenue on the west.  That block is in both ED 31-512 and ED 31-513.  The description of those two EDs is rather complex:
 31-512: MANHATTAN BOROUGH, NEW YORK CITY (TRACT 48) BOUNDED BY 15TH E TO AND INCL HOUSE NUMBER 330; 14TH E FROM AND INCL HOUSE NUMBER 329; 2ND AVE

31-513: MANHATTAN BOROUGH, NEW YORK CITY (TRACT 48) BOUNDED BY 15TH E FROM AND EXCL HOUSE NUMBER 330; 1ST AVE; 14TH E TO AND EXCL HOUSE NUMBER 329

210.  Are there any other ways of finding ED Numbers for Large Cities in 1950?

You can search by census tract.  Census tracts are sections of cities that can contain multiple ED numbers.  So we need to determine the census tract corresponding to a given address.  You can do that be consulting a census tract map.  Maps of 1950 census tracts can be found using the One-Step Census Tracts Tool.  Once you know the census tract, go to the One-Step Unified ED Finder, select the "Other" choice for the city name, and enter "tract xx" (where xx is your tract number) in the "Other" search box.

 

300 CENSUS IMAGES ON-LINE


301. How can I view the census images online?

The census images for 1950 should be available online at some commercial websites and some free websites on or after April 1st, 2022.   Certainly we expect NARA to have them available on their website.  After the images are on line, the One-Step Unified ED Finder will have links that take you directly to these images.




400 LIMITATIONS AND EXPLANATIONS


401. What are the limitations of your website for all the US census years?

You should know how the tables in the One-Step Unified ED Finder were generated.  Some information came from NARA's T1224 and T1210 (1900 only) microfilms.  The original ED descriptions might have misspellings, might have been on unreadable microfilm frames, or might not have been consistent in how they presented information (E 3rd Ave, 3rd Ave E, etc.).  T1224/T1210 rarely indicated if a street was a Street (St).  There were "unnamed" streets, extended streets (imaginary lines), topographic features as boundaries (canals, rivers, etc.), and even political boundaries (Ward Line, City Boundary).  When transcribing the information into files, typing mistakes may have occurred, or some street names not transcribed from certain EDs.  Once you narrow the number of possible EDs for your address using the One-Step website, you can always check on its validity by going to the T1224/T1210 microfilm and looking up the ED numbers.

In some cases we used other methods for generating the tables, such as reading the streets off of the census, marking maps and reading the internal streets, etc.  See questions 403 for more details.
 

402. Why isn't my 1950 city listed on your website?

This One-Step Unified ED Finder includes most cities over 5,000 and at least one city for every state.  If your city didn't make the cut, you can still use the unified tool by selecting "Other" for the city name and then explicitly typing in your city name.


403. Why are some streets that didn't exist in 1950 on your database?  Why can't I find the street I'm looking for?


Census districts of many cities, mostly the smaller ones, were defined only by their boundary streets, geographical features (creeks, rivers, etc.), or political lines (ward line, city line, precinct line) on NARA film T1224.  In order to create the tables for these cities on the One-Step website, we had to fill in the internal streets.  We did this by referring to official 1950 ED maps of the city.  If such maps didn’t exist, we made our own ED maps trying to use base maps as close to 1950 as possible.  Some of these maps might have been created after 1950, in which case they might have had streets that didn't exist in 1950.  In addition, some of the maps that might have been created before 1950 and they might not have all the streets that existed in 1950.

There are several more reasons why streets that existed in 1950 do not appear in our tables.  One possibility is that some of those streets may have changed name or even been removed completely, and therefore not present on the maps we were using.  Also the census microfilms list only the streets on which people lived, so if a cross street had nobody on it, it would not be listed.  There is also the possibility that your street that is in the city today might not have been within that city's boundaries in 1950.  And of course human error may also play a role.

Another thing to be aware of is that house numbers might have changed since 1950 or been completely reassigned.  If you use the old number on a current map you will get incorrect cross streets.  To get a list of changed street names and changed house numbering, see the One-Step Changed Street Names tool.


404. "ED for Detroit. 382 Tuxedo."   ???


Unfortunately we get messages like this a lot.  Usually with no other text, not even a signature.  Since we get so many of these, we are sure there's a question in there somewhere, but we don't see it.

We certainly hope we didn't give anyone the impression that we would do individual look-ups for people.
 

405. Why can't I find a street name on the actual census that you say exists in that Enumeration District?


There may be situations where we show an ED number for a street name but you won't be able to find that street on the actual census pages. Here are some reasons that might happen:
The street name may have been changed and we used both the old and new street names in our index, but only one of these would be on the actual census pages.

It might be that a street name changed to an already-existing street name.  Because of the nature of our database, we couldn't decide in which ED both names should appear.  So we repeated both names in every ED that had the existing street name, even if both streets weren't in that ED.

It could be that the original source information or our transcription was wrong, and those errors appear in our database.

It could be that street had no population on the census and therefore would not appear on the census sheets.

It could be that we used a map more recent than the census year in question to get a street name, and that street didn't exist in that district on the day the census was taken.

It could be that a geographical feature was one of the boundaries of your ED, or that the ED boundary line cut through a block (rather than following a street), and we added the name of the street on the other side of this feature to help with the search engine.  Thus that street name would not appear within the actual census ED.

For a city like New York (Manhattan) in 1950, there are a large number of EDs that consist of a single city block cut diagonally.  Such EDs would contain only two streets on the census pages.  In this case, our algorithm for finding the ED requires that we pretend that all four streets making up the city block be considered as being in the ED, even though two of those streets will not be found on the census pages.

406. What should I do if my street name no longer exists?


Cities grow and change over time.  Part of that process may involve changing the street names.  The further back in time one goes, the greater the chance that the street has been renamed or the houses renumbered.  If you are using the One-Step Unified ED Finder and can't find the street name on the map that the site links to, it is likely that the name no longer exists.  In that case, here are some things you might try:
Search on an adjacent street, hoping that its name hasn't been changed.

Look in old city directories since they often show the relationship of streets to e    ach other.  From that you might be able to figure out what the new name might be.

Find old city maps, or request information from library holdings that might have such resources.
For some cities there are tables and websites that show street name changes.  Some websites that we have found and tables that we have generated are listed on our One-Step Changed Street Names tool.

NARA has a series of ED maps for 1950 in their catalog.  It might be possible to use those maps, if they are clear enough, to see street names and find your changed name and its corresponding ED.  The One-Step ED Maps tool makes it easy to find the NARA maps.
 

407.  Why can't I find my street address in the ED that you indicate?

Here are several possible reasons for this problem.

A renumbering of the streets may have occurred since the census date.

The census taker might have skipped that address, perhaps because nobody was home.  However, at the end of the ED sheets (starting with sheet 71), the census taker usually went back, found missing people, and added them to the end of the section.  Always check the end of the ED for missing addresses.

The mapping programs we link to may give incorrect positional information for the address.  You should suspect this problem if you find, for example, only odd addresses for a street in the ED when you expect an even number -- in which case the mapping program put you on the wrong side of the street, therefore in the wrong block, and as a consequence you arrived in the wrong ED.

The geometry of your neighborhood might be such that it confuses the ED finder.  One example is when a cross street ends at the street we are interested in and does not intersect the side of the street that our number is on.  To illustrate this, suppose we are interested in 123 Main Street and Main Street is a boundary street with the even numbers being in one ED and the odd ones being in another.  And suppose that Little Street ends at Main Street on the even side, right across the street from number 123.   In that case Little Street will be in the ED that contains the even numbers on Main Street, but will not be in the ED that contains the odd numbers.  Therefore, if you enter Little Street in the ED finder, you will eliminate the ED that contains the odd numbers on Main Street.

If you are using an online subscription service to view the census images, there is a possibility that they did not scan all the pages within the ED.  In that case, the people on the missing sheet will also not be in their name index.  Always check to see that there are no gaps in the numbering of the census sheets within the online images for the ED. However, be aware that for the 1950 census, people who were missed on the census taker's first pass will be put on census pages starting with number 71.  So there will probably be a gap preceding number 71.

 

 

500 MISCELLANEOUS


501. Will I be able use the website while I am doing research at NARA?


Most if not all NARA branches provide computers with Internet connections for use by patrons.  If in doubt, call the branch before visiting.
 

502. Where can I find more websites involved with determining EDs and with searching the census?


The official NARA website for the various census years is at

1950: To be determined.
1940: http://www.archives.gov/research/census/1940/index.html
1930: https://web.archive.org/web/20170313022617/https://www.archives.gov/research/census/1930
1920: http://www.archives.gov/research/census/publications-microfilm-catalogs-census/1920/index.html
1910: http://www.archives.gov/research/census/publications-microfilm-catalogs-census/1910/index.html


503. What do I do if I can't read the headings on the census forms?


There are various websites that have sample census forms online which are very readable.  For example, Ancestry, FamilySearch, IPUMS, and the Census Bureau.  The latter two contain real images of each form.

 
504. Were the census takers (enumerators) given specific instructions as to how to fill in the information in the various fields?

Yes they were.  The instructions they were given can be found at

http://usa.ipums.org/usa/voliii/tEnumInstr.shtml

Or at

https://www.census.gov/history/www/through_the_decades/census_instructions

 
505.  Why are there are missing sheets in my 1950 ED?

The 1950 instructions to the enumerators state that the counters start by labelling their first sheet, which has line numbers 1 through 30, as sheet “1”, the second sheet as sheet “2” and so on.  The enumerators often did a second sweep of their area, picking up additional people that they missed previously.  In that case, they were instructed to label the first sheet of this second sweep as 71.  This page then started a second sequence of numbers.
 
In order to check for missing pages, look at the top of the sheets.  We expect but don’t know until we see the actual census schedules that you would see  a stamped number. The first census form of a county should be stamped with a "1", and subsequent pages stamped sequentially through all the EDs of that county.  See if there are gaps in the stamped number sequence, as well as unexpected gaps on the page numbers on the upper right corner of the form placed there by the enumerator.  If there are such gaps, there probably little that can be done about it since the original census pages were destroyed after they were filmed.


506. What is on the 1950 Census sheets and how was that census carried out?


The columns expected on the 1950 Census sheets can be found at the following websites (for the purpose of printing the forms, it's useful to know that the 1950 schedule dimensions are 19” wide by 22” high):

https://www.census.gov/history/pdf/1950_population_questionnaire.pdf
http://usa.ipums.org/usa/voliii/form1940.shtml
https://usa.ipums.org/usa/voliii/form1950.shtml

The procedural history of the 1950 Census can be found at:

https://usa.ipums.org/usa/resources/voliii/enumproc1950.pdf

The 1950 enumerator instructions and some supplementary instructions can be found at:

https://usa.ipums.org/usa/voliii/inst1950.shtml
https://www.census.gov/history/www/through_the_decades/census_instructions/

Urban & Rural Enumerator's Workbook Population Housing & Agriculture at

https://tinyurl.com/y4yle55u

U.S. Enumerator Manual Paragraphs 1 to 60 at

https://tinyurl.com/y2xax5kb


507. Where can I find out more information on the census and the national results?


Try the resources at:

https://guides.lib.virginia.edu/census

Government reports from the 1950 Census can be found at:

https://www.census.gov/library/publications.html


508. Why do some 1950 EDs have letters at the end?

If a 1950 Enumeration District involved more work than a single enumerator could handle, that district was subdivided and assigned to several enumerators.  When that happened, letter suffixes were appended to the end of the ED.  An example is 16-167A, 16-167B, and 16-167C.

Over 4,500 (out of a total of 230,000) EDs in 1950 were subdivided.
 

509a. Why do 1950 EDs consist of two numbers separated by a hyphen?
509b.  Why does the number before the hyphen change between the 1930, 1940, and 1950 censuses for some locations?


In 1930, the Census Bureau decided to assign two-part numbers to each ED. The first part of the number (prefix) denoted the county within the state, and the second number (suffix) denoted the census district within the county.  The ED prefixes were usually assigned sequentially to the counties in alphabetical order, so a county like Adams might be given a prefix of 1.  Similarly the ED suffixes were usually assigned in alphabetical order by city name.

In 1940, the Bureau extended the 1930 prefix numbers by assigning unique prefix numbers to the largest cities (100,000 or more people) within the United States.  Such city prefix numbers come after the highest county prefix number within each state.  For example, the Hollywood Knickerbocker Hotel is in the city of Los Angeles, and that city is within the county of Los Angeles.  In 1930, Los Angeles county was assigned prefix 19, and the Knickerbocker Hotel was assigned ED 19-64.  In 1940, Los Angeles county again had prefix 19, but Los Angeles city was split out and given its own prefix of 60.  So in 1940 1950 the Knickerbocker Hotel was assigned ED 60-132.  To be sure there are actually two other ED 132s in Los Angeles county in 1940 1950 -- namely ED 19-132 which covers part of the city of  Downey and ED 59-132 in the large city of  Long Beach (with its own, new prefix).

In 1950, the rules for prefixes of large cities changed from 100,000 or more (1940) to 50,000 or more.  Therefore more prefixes were needed in many states.  Our Knickerbocker Hotel, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County example now became ED 66-555 for the hotel’s location in 1950.


510.  Why does my 1950 census entry show a birth state that differs from the state in which I was born?

The 1950 census asks for a person's birthplace, and the instructions to enumerators were to enter the state in which the family normally resided regardless of where the birth actually occurred.  For example, suppose your family was living in Hoboken New Jersey, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, and they went to a hospital in Manhattan for your birth.  Your birth certificate would say that you were born in New York, but the 1950 census taker would enter New Jersey as your place of birth.


511. Is there additional information on how to use the 1950 census One-Step search tools for the 1950 census?


Yes, Joel Weintraub has two full length talks on YouTube on the 1950 census on his channel, “JDW Talks”.  The first talk is titled “The 1950 U.S. Census for Genealogists" and is at

https://youtu.be/JgU8GLYQxtg

The second talk is titled “1950 Census Location Search Tools” and is at

 https://youtu.be/vZN2lVCcBgE


511. Where can I find information about my 1950 residence on the housing census schedule?

There was a Housing Schedule as part of that census, and the Census Bureau came up with a number of reports that summarized the economic and living conditions of EVERY block of many urban areas.  There are 213 such reports of urban areas having a population of at least 50,000 people.  Here is the <a target="_blank" href="https://stevemorse.org/census/1950BlockMaps/1950BlockMapsCities.jpg"> list</a> from the Census Bureau.  To get your own copy of your city's Housing Report go to the Census Bureau's Census of Population and Housing, then pick the "Census of Population and Housing 1950", then "1950 Census of Housing", and finally "Vol. V. Block Statistics".

To see the block maps in the Census Bureau 1950 Housing Pamplets, some of them received from the Census Bureau Library, go to the One-Step ED Map Tool.

Individual blocks on the Housing Pamphlet maps were numbered with the city’s Tract and/or Ward number followed by a block number.  Within Tracts block numbers go from 1 to N; thus all Tract numbers start with a block number 1.   Ward numbers go from 1 to N with N being the number of total blocks in the city; that is, there is only one number 1 block in that city.  The regular 1950 ED map in the National Archives Catalog usually show within each ED polygon of large cities the same block numbers as the Housing Pamphlets block numbers, and the surrounding area the same Ward/Tract number.    When the One-Step ED definitions were transcribed, if the ED definition showed a Ward or Tract number,  the Ward/Tract number was transcribed into the text ED definition.   In addition, the original ED definitions on National Archives T1224 from the Census Bureau, often showed below the ED boundary description of the city EDs, the individual block numbers as well. The Housing Pamphlets for these 213 cities contain tables that show, for each of the numbered blocks, information on: occupancy and tenure, building conditions and plumbing facilities, occupied unit numbers and non-white individuals, average monthly rent, and average value of the dwelling unit.   For those looking for 1950 statistics of their area, this information should prove very useful. 


512. I was living abroad in April 1950.  What is my ED #?  Where can I be found in the census?

For the first time land-based U.S. military personnel stationed abroad and their dependents living with them, crews of U.S. military vessels at sea or docked in a foreign port, federal civilian employees stationed abroad and their dependents living with them, and crews of vessels in the U.S. merchant marine at sea or docked in a foreign port were asked to self-enumerate themselves with forms distributed through their services. These persons were not allocated to any region or state and therefore were not included in any Enumeration District number.  Material comes mostly from here.  It looks like their records, if they still exist, will not be part of the online 1950 census schedules when they become public.  That’s 481,545 people in April 1950 that we won’t get to see.


-- Steve Morse and Joel Weintraub