“PROJECT 1950” FOR U.S. CENSUS LOCATIONAL SEARCHES
Welcome to Project 1950, a crowdsourcing project to provide free locational tools to find
families by their addresses on the 1950 census. Although that census won't be released to
the public until April, 2022, it's never too early to start preparing for it. We started
this project back in May of 2012! With a large lead time, and relatively little deadline
pressures, we have accomplished quite a bit on this all-volunteer project.
We planned and acquired resources for the project from May 2012 through June 2013. This
included scanning all 1950 Census Bureau ED definitions from the National Archives film
series 1224, and we put those scans online
We appreciate the help of many libraries and Interlibrary Loan for providing those films to us
so we could digitize them. With 27 helpers we transcribed all legible 1950 census district
definitions from our online scans. That part of Project 1950 occured from May 2013
through July 2014. Those transcriptions can be found
With 51 volunteers we transcribed street lists from 1950 census
district maps mostly available from the National Archives catalog for over 2400 urban
areas. That phase of the project lasted from Oct 2014 through summer of 2018 and the result
of that work can be found here.
We continue to proof all our files against their corresponding film scans.
The result of all our work is online
and free to researchers. A Tutorial on how to use our 1950 census tools, along with links to
them can be found here.
Below we discuss Project 1950 and what could still be done, and what you can do to help.
There are two ways to search in the census – by name and by address (location).
Searching by name is the easier way to go, but it is not always possible.
For one thing, the census taker might have written the name incorrectly because
he didn't understand what the person was saying. For another, he might have written
the name so poorly that it was transcribed incorrectly when the name index was created.
And, furthermore, there might not even be a name index. In the case of the 1950 census,
there will probably not be a name index available on opening day (April 1, 2022) and for
several months thereafter.
That means the only way that the 1950 census will be searched initially is by address
or location. This was the situtation that we had with the 1940 census opening. However,
the federal census is not organized by address but rather by something called an
Enumeration District (ED). If you don’t know the ED, you cannot easily access the census.
You could use NARA's 1950 ED map collection
and/or use our aids for converting addresses/locations to 1950 ED numbers.
That is what this project is all about. We are providing free, web-based utilities
that allow researchers to go from an address or location to an ED number in the 1950 census.
B. Past Successes and Present Plans
The One-Step site has helped researchers find families by location on the 1880
through 1940 U.S. Censuses (plus the 1870 2nd enumeration of NYC), and some
NY State Censuses as well. Our free tools for the 1940 U.S. Census continue
to find people when name indexes fail. The first day that the 1940 census was online,
the One-Step site received about 2.25 million hits. We had 7 years to work on three
main 1940 utilities: converting 1930 to 1940 ED numbers; ED definitions for all;
and street indexes to ED #s for over 1200 urban areas. With our permission,
those data sets were also used by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
1940 website, Ancestry.com (on their initial 1940 offering), and the NY Public Library's
digitized 1940 phone book website. We expect to share our 1950 databases with other
So here's a quick overview of what you would be doing to help us.
Phase I -- State and Territory ED Definitions
This phase is DONE except for continued proofing of files. With the help of volunteers,
all 233,800+ 1950 ED definitions have been transcribed from 38 rolls of microfilm and
put online. We also added over 79,000 small community names to the ED definitions.
Great Job Helpers!!
Phase II -- City Street Lists for Finding 1950 ED Numbers
This phase was basically completed during summer 2018.
Here we used 1950 ED maps and the ED definitions to come up with searchable street lists
within census districts. For the 1940 census we produced street indexes for over 1200
urban areas, and for 1950 we have produced over 2400 indexes.
To help the project, you could find resources and transcribe street lists for some
cities that still lack circa 1950 adequate map resources including these areas of
over 10,000 in population: Aguadilla PR, Bayamon PR, Boardman twp OH, Cayey town PR,
Connellsville PA, Fajardo town PR, Grand Forks ND, Greenfield town WI,
Guayama town PR, Jeannette PA, Kannapolis NC, Lake Town WI, North Kingstown RI,
Overland MO, Plains twp PA, Riverview VA, Sioux Falls SD, South Kingston RI,
and Stowe twp PA.
There are urban areas between 5,000 to 10,000 in 1950 that we initially had targetted but
because of lack of usuable resources, we cannot do them. We don't have a list of them,
but if you find a city of interest that is not on our list of transcribed cities on our
Unified Tool found here, send an email to Joel
so he can check whether the urban area meets our minimum requirements, and what the status
of the necessary resources are for it at the present time. We have suggestions where to go
to get the necessary circa 1950 map that we would need to complete your area of interest.
Once we have the resources, you could transcribe street name indexes from the maps.
To transcribe street lists, you should have basic computer skills, typing skills,
have access to the Internet, be detail people but not perfectionists, be independent
workers and able to follow instructions, be patient enough to handle large amounts of
information, and be comfortable with projects that may take weeks or months, not hours,
to accomplish. You should be able to handle and manipulate images (jpgs) of maps
and Enumeration District (ED) definition scans, thus a large computer monitor that
can handle two or more open windows at the same time would be desirable. We will provide
instructions for carrying out the work, and a place to ask questions. Volunteers will
use free programs to help speed up the entry process. We expect volunteers to make steady
progress on their assignments. And we can still use help in proofing the files we transcribed against the ED maps.
C. Helping the Project
If you've read all of this and you can help us, contact Joel Weintraub at