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be forewarned that the generic FAQ is out of date and no longer being maintained.
200 How to Find ED Numbers
300 Viewing Microfilms
400 Limitations and Explanations
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
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,
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 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
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
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.
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
We have generated tables for all urban areas of 5,000 or more. That
comes to over 2400 cities.
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
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
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
b. From the list of cities, select Camden. A list of streets appears.
c. From the list of streets select 41st Street. The following
A list of cross or back streets on the same city block
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.
A list of ED numbers corresponding to the selected 41st Street -- that
list shows 4-52 and 4-59
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
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
b. From the list of cities, select Manhattan. A list of streets
c. From the list of streets select Henry. The following appears:
A list of cross or back streets on the same city block
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
A list of ED numbers corresponding to the selected Henry Street --
that list shows 16 EDs
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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):
The procedural history of the 1950 Census can be found at:
The 1950 enumerator instructions and some supplementary instructions can
be found at:
Urban & Rural Enumerator's Workbook Population Housing & Agriculture
U.S. Enumerator Manual Paragraphs 1 to 60 at
507. Where can I find out more information on the census and the national
Try the resources at:
Government reports from the 1950 Census can be found at:
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
The second talk is titled “1950 Census Location Search Tools” and is at
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