Blog 2022 04 10 2022 Navigating the 1950 U. S. Census before the indexing is complete

Shall I start with the obvious, Good Luck?

Depending on where your person or family of interest was living in 1950 will determine just how difficult it might be.  For instance, I wanted to see if my father was still living at on, on the farm, or if he had already joined his older brother in Chicago, IL.  That rural part of the town of Surrency, outside the city, in Appling County, Georgia was 25 pages and it was really easy to go page by page.

What I discovered was that he was not listed as residing there; plus, his oldest brother was living back at the family farm with his wife and two young children.  Something I did not know.  My uncle’s youngest child was two on the 1950 U. S. Census is a cousin I am in contact with and asked her if she knew this and she replied she did because she was born there.

I did notice that the enumerators of 1950 were not any better than others in US history at getting facts correct.  Since my uncle, born in 1923, and a veteran of WWII had the WWII annotation crossed out and changed to reflect his served in WWI, five years before he was born.

But what about a more metropolitan area? 

Let’s take a look at Macon, Bibb County, Georgia.  I was looking up the family of a client.  However, I need the enumeration area.  To do this, I need to know where they lived.  I have their address according to the 1950 city directory.

Steve Morse has a website that helps with this (most people only think of his website for immigration) and it is: https://stevemorse.org/census/unified.html

I can plug in the state, County, City, and then address and it will bring back the enumeration district or districts to search.  Then it is back to going page by page.  It took me a few minutes because the city directory method of displaying the address in 1950 was confusing since the city had just renumbered most of the addresses and renamed many streets.  But, I eventually found what I was looking for.

What if you do not have an address?

That will depend on how unique the name is that you are researching.  I just took a chance looking for my father in Chicago and found him on the third option, out of 233 possibilities.  My father’s name was Odis Thomas and I searched for Odis.  He is right where I expected to find him, with his brother Ralph, and Ralph’s wife, Dolly.  Ralph’s name was on a line that was ‘randomly’ selected for additional questions.  Here, the enumerator, probably due to lack of knowledge, states he completed 12 years of schooling which is not technically correct.  The enumerator probably asked Ralph if he completed High School and Ralph replied in the affirmative.  However, Georgia used to graduate kids after the 11th grade and did not add the 12th grade until 1950.  All of my Thomas grandparent’s kids graduated before 1950.

However, another person in Chicago I am looking for, his surname should be rather unique but it brings back 173 and that one may take some time.  I was not necessarily going to go through all 233 pages to look for my dad for this blog, it just so happens that it came up, on the third one.