Welcome to Project 1950, a crowdsourcing project to provide free locational tools to find families and 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.  With a large lead time, and relatively little deadline pressures, we can accomplish quite a bit on this all-volunteer project.

We are looking for a few hundred dedicated volunteers over the next several years to help us.  But be aware that this project isn't for everybody.  Volunteers 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 have the luxury of time right now to do it well.

A. Background

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 name might have been so poorly written that it was transcribed incorrectly when the name index was created.  For another, there might not be a name index.  In the case of the 1950 census, there probably will be no name index available on opening day – April 1, 2022.

That means the only way that the 1950 census will probably be searched initially is by address or location (as happened with the 1940 census opening).  However, the federal census is organized by something called an Enumeration District (ED).  If you don’t know the ED, you cannot easily access the census.  So we need some aid for converting addresses/locations to EDs.

That is what this project is all about.  We will be 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.

Unfortunately, the 1950 ED definitions from the Census Bureau do not have as much information as the same material for 1940.  Because of that, we will be unable to produce a conversion table of 1940 to 1950 ED numbers.  We will provide a searchable set of ED definitions for 1950 as well as providing street indexes for many urban areas. 

So here's a quick overview of what you would be doing if you volunteer. 


Phase I  State and Territory ED Definitions


This phase is DONE.  With the help of 27 volunteers over 13 months in 2013-2014, all 233,800+ 1950 ED definitions have been transcribed and put online.  Great Job Helpers!! 


Phase II City Street Lists for Finding 1950 ED Numbers

Here we will use maps and the ED definitions to come up with street lists within census districts.  For the 1940 census we produced street indexes for over 1200 urban areas, and for 1950 we have targeted as many as 2600 such areas.   For many of these cities, towns, and villages we have a number of map resources to help with the transcription. You will go through these maps, recording on our online entry programs the street names within the EDs.

Although we prefer that one volunteer be responsible for an urban area, we might split the work among a number of volunteers for the larger cities.  There are also volunteer opportunities involving finding and getting circa 1950 maps from libraries.  If you have access to circa 1950s street maps of urban areas that you can digitize and send us a copy, that's another thing you could do to help this project. 


C. Joining the Project

If you've read all of this and this interests you, contact Joel Weintraub at
census1950@cox.net who will send you a link to the Manual for Phase II, which has instructions on how to sign up for specific urban areas.


Thanks for considering Project 1950