Countdown to the Release of the 1950 U.S. Census

On April 1, 1950, some 150,000 census workers, armed with pencils and thick pads of census schedules, set out to visit every residence in the country. They canvassed neighborhoods on foot or by car. Their goal was to enumerate every person in the country, and that meant some would need dogsleds, canoes, and even rowboats to reach out-of-the-way citizens. It took about a month for census workers (called enumerators) to finish the tally, then additional time for the government to tabulate the results. After completing the census, federal law mandated a 72-year restriction on the records to protect individual privacy. On April 1, 2022, the 1950 U.S. Census will be released to the public, providing a snapshot of history and new insights for genealogical research.

1950 Census Worker shows her official identification: Globe-Gazette 30 March 1950

The first decennial census took place in 1790, and the population was nearly 4 million. By the time the 1950 Census rolled around, the population ballooned to more than 151 million. The Framers of the Constitution wanted population, not wealth, to be the basis for sharing political power, and censuses helped apportion Congressional seats. Over the years, it became evident that gathering additional data while enumerating citizens was useful. It could help community leaders allocate funding for transportation, education, health care, and more. Each census has asked slightly different questions. The 1940 standard census forms had lines for 40 persons. In 1950, this was reduced to 30 lines, allowing enumerators space to take notes on additional sample questions answered by every fifth person.

To prepare for the 1950 Census, the government created detailed aerial maps to identify every dwelling. In January 1950, the call went out for census workers. Requirements included a high school education and the ability to fill out complex census schedules with efficiency and courtesy. Applicants needed to be between 21 and 65 years old, and veterans received preference. Census workers interviewed about 30 families each day, enumerating about 1,110 persons in total. They earned 7 cents for each line of information filled out – or about $8 a day. At the time, the average family income was $3,300. Each interview took about 10 minutes, and the job sometimes presented challenges. One census worker reported being hit over the head with a frying pan when the interviewee didn’t like her questions. Others reported being bitten by dogs or chased by a swarm of bees. One census worker climbed a 60-foot flagpole to enumerate an ex-paratrooper trying to set a new world record as a flagpole sitter. Sometimes residents hid from census workers or slammed the door in their face. This behavior was illegal and could result in a fine or jail time.

The 1950 U.S. Census will provide insights into the post-WWII boom era, including the baby boom, the housing boom, and booming suburbs. Census schedules will also show segregated neighborhoods and separate and “inherently unequal” circumstances that led to the Civil Rights Movement. Using new, proprietary Artificial Intelligence (AI) handwriting recognition technology, Ancestry® announced that it will deliver a searchable index of the 1950 Census faster than ever before. Volunteers will evaluate census extraction records to ensure accurate results. We anticipate the 1950 U.S. Census will be fully indexed and available to search online this summer. To learn more about the 1950 U.S. Census, search™ today!

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90 thoughts on “Countdown to the Release of the 1950 U.S. Census

  1. I have been working on my family tree for years. This is great information,l and will help me on my quest.

  2. I am looking forward to seeing the results. It should help a lot with my tree.

  3. I’m excited about this. I am really looking forward to filling in some blanks on people in my tree who were alive before 1950 but were relatively young!

  4. Gee, 1950 — the year I graduated from high school, got married, and turned 19 — I may not have been living at home when the census was taken — now I can find out!!

  5. I was in 7th grade in 1950 and I am looking forward to securing many addresses where
    several friends and their families lived. 1950 will be the 1st year in which many of my friends
    will see there names for the 1st time in a released census. I saw the names of my siblings &
    parents -including myself- in the 1940 census.

    1. I won’t have that luxury until the 1960 census is released in another 10 years. 🙁 My oldest sib was born in 1951 and my youngest in 1962. I’ll have 10 years to see the oldest three and 20 years for all four of us on one census. My parents will be on the 1950 census as a married couple though.

  6. So now, in addition to the already high price I pay for every year, I’m going to have to pay another fee to see the 1950 Census?????

        1. Hi Sarah, You will not need to pay any more. In fact, the 1950 Census records will be available for anyone to view for free on Ancestry though you will need to set up a free registrant account.

    1. No not at all. It will be available on Ancestry the same as all the other census information. However don’t expect to see info on April 1. That is the day the government releases it, then the work begins to make it presentable to us. Hope this helps

    2. I search on Ancestry several times a week and more and more on Family Search. As we get older (I’m almost 80) I so appreciate being able to get the help. Used to go to courthouses but not able so much anymore I’m tickled I’ll be able to see myself on this census with my big brother

    3. No sir, since you already pay there is no additional cost. You don’t pay for the ones that are on ancestry now.

    4. Considering the incredible amounts of records on, it’s very well priced. It’s way better than the old days, when you spent a fortune at every courthouse and library, making copies of everything.

      1. You are so right! My mom in law spentba fortune travelling all over the country and making copies and sitting down in LDS and other libraries for 50+ years. She died in 2010 and had a habit of helping others gather info and they missed her when she was gone. She had tons of paper which I had to determine if it was useful. She got me started and DNA finally found my birth father’s family. I use three sources and am grateful for the ones that are free. Wish they’d do more shows on tv. I miss both of them!

    5. No, go to & the Census records are there for free. Why you pay Ancestry every year is beyond me. I have established a whole family tree without ever paying Ancestry & most of the info came from the above mentioned site.

      1. I pay for Ancestry because it’s not Wikki. I maintain a tree in both but I’m very aware of the fact that my tree can and has been altered by others on FamilySearch. My Ancestry tree can only be altered by me. It’s worth the cost!

      2. I also maintain trees on Ancestry and FS, and Ancestry much easier to work with when adding background stories and photos in the Gallery section. And there’s this: I cannot remember the last time I connected with a relation via FS, but I receive messages and hints from other Ancestry users at least once a week.

  7. I am an Ancestry subscriber. Is it true I will have to pay more to see the 1950 census thro Ancestry? Do not think thesis fair.

    1. No one has to pay more for the Census records, if you already are a paying member, you can see all the census records that have been added.

  8. I think this is bad. Life expectancy has increased and many living people will are still alive and this was suppose to not be revealed to public. No one had expectancy of information given being posted on internet in 2022 for any one on the planet to see. I think releasing 1940 census was a mistake. My information was made public. Now more information about me will be there for the world to see. I hope some identity thief doesn’t use it. Not happy about this.

    1. I turned 80 this year and will be seeing a census record for myself for the first time! There will be no information visible that I am In the least worried about. No bank records, phone numbers, social security info, nothing! But I’ve been an amateur genealogist for 30 years and I am eager to have all the family records from that time available! I LOVE that I’ve lived long enough to view this census info!


          1. I started in 1974 and had to do it by hand at The State Library of Texas in Austin! It was tedious work and I had to write letters by hand through the Mormon magazine trying to connect all of my relatives. This census is the first time I will see myself on a census! So thankful we have come this far. I am 75 years old.

      1. I turned 80 this year also and am looking forward to seeing myself (ans sibling) for the 1st time. I’m very thankful that I was blessed with this oppontunityl

      2. I’m excited for this release. I’ve been working on genealogy for quite a few years and I’m looking forward to updating some of my records.

      3. Also excited for this! Even though I will miss this one – (born in 1951) It will be fun to see the first census with my married parents and my two year-old brother. I will also find out what they listed as their residence at that time.

      4. Bravo! I’ll be 76 in a couple weeks and I agree. Using a computer makes one more vulnerable than a census!

    2. You’re being paranoid. If no one contacted you because of the 1940 census, what makes you think they care about the 1950 census!

    3. A mistake? What about all the other censuses taken and released? So is it just the 1940 one you are mad about?

    4. Whatever people were involved in, in 1950, enough time has elapsed that it doesn’t matter anymore.
      Identity thieves don’t use for identity theft. They don’t have to. Everybody’s private information is already all over the Internet.
      If I know your name, and where you live in the US, it would take me about 5 seconds to locate lots of information about you, and it would have nothing to do with

    5. There is no relevant information on a 72-year-old census record that could do anyone harm today. Someone who wants personal information about you has MANY, MANY easy and more current ways to get it. Virtually the only value of these records is to people who are interested in history and genealogy. Best wishes, Aunt Theadora. If you want some things to worry about there are plenty of them out there. But this is not among them.

    6. Considering the population was over 150 million people, the odds of you personally suffering identity theft because of a decades’ old census are very very slim.

  9. I am projects are Archives that wonderful was beginning never seen was born that good exciting know each other. i see 1950 years very long ago wonderful!

  10. I subscribed to after a free trial. There was only one of the many newspapers that have existed in the city where most of my ancestors lived and my relatives continue to live. Regardless, I was able to glean a lot of information for my family tree. But when I got the paid 6 month subscription I found that the newspaper I had used in the free in the trial period now charged an extra $59 to look at additional articles! I hate feeling ripped off.

    1. Similar story for me. Having access to obituaries has helped immensely finding children who missed being counted on census records, married names of women who never appear with that name on a census ( one of my relatives had a different name in every family member’s obituary ), and sometimes a name that had always just been an initial on the records. Now I am finding that more and more obituaries are listed as existing, but are not accessible. So frustrating, considering how much I pay, to feel like the info, and my family, are being held for ransom.

    2. I have had the same experience and I am sure that my irritation level is sympathetic to yours.

      I have also noticed that anything that I downloaded from the “free” period and posted to ancestry lost any resolution that would make the article readable.

      It strikes me that calling this anything other than “bait and switch” is overgenerous!

      I am in total sympathy for the financial situation that most newspaper find themselves and a need to monetize what assets that they have I am totally unconvinced that is of meaningful help to them.

  11. I am looking forward to the 1950 census. I sat in the car with my brothers while my mother did the census. I hope we see the original pages as I want to see my mother’s handwriting…

    1. I remember seeing my Mother’s handwriting for the first time on a birth certificate … I was not raised with her, and it made her ‘real’.

    2. You should see the actual pages unless this census is different. I found my grandmothers name as the enumerator for the 1920 and 1930 census when doing research. I didn’t know it was something she had done and it was actually a thrill to see her name. Sadly I miss this census but will be in the next. Can’t wait.

    3. I believe the census pages are fill in by the census workers, not by the families being interviewed. Look at previous census and you’ll see at the top who the census taker was.

    1. Try searching both the 1850 and 1860 census. I’m glad for the 1900 census, because it shows that my grandfather was born in Germany — the only way I can continue to do research on him.

  12. I will soon be 85 and have been doing Genealogy research since 1976. In 1940 I was 3 years. I cannot find any record of me in the 1940 Census.

    1. Just like now, people were missed. You could also have a misspelled name. And some transcriptions came up with some really wild names that aren’t anything like what they were written.

    2. My younger sister, born in 1938, was not in the 1940 census either. What I found fascinating was that much of the information on the 1940 pertained to 1935, such as how much did a person earn in 1935 and not 1940!

  13. I was born on October 5, 1950. I hope I can find myself in the 1950 census and all 12 months are available. I have my birth certificate so I know where I was born. I’ve been doing genealogy since 2012. The census records for 1950 will be helpful.

    1. The 1950 census was conducted during April, so you will not be included if you were not born until October. However, you should be abler to find your parents and any older siblings.

    2. Pauline — the census are taken in usually April, so by you being born in October, you will not be in the 1950 census.

  14. I am waiting anxiously for the 1950 Census. But unless I can get my Newspaper account straightened out, I feel it will be somewhat useless for me.

  15. My parents were in either Germany or Morocco during this census enumeration. My dad was in the US Air Force at the time. Where will they show up in the 1950 Census?

    1. There is likely a special section for Military personnel and addresses. The 1940 census may shed light on what you will find in the 1950 census in that regard.

  16. Apparently, we are all researchers here. Did you know you can research for your family’s unclaimed property held by the state’s Unclaimed Property unit with the Department of Treasury? As Florida named it ‘Treasurehunt.’ As that is what it is; a treasure hunt for free. No cost to you to claim the money for you or your deceased heirs, as long as you are the executor or executrix. Please go to to begin your search!!!!

    I am talking about dormant bank accounts, uncashed checks, stocks that must be turned over to the state’s Unclaimed Property unit within 3 to 6 years. The states are earning millions of dollars in interest from our money every year. Again, it is free to claim it with their online application.

  17. The 1950’s census will be an exciting and bountiful addition to the information we can access about our family history. As a Professional Genealogist, I’m happy to assist anyone with their family history research at a reasonable fee. Please see website below and contact me via email or website. Good luck with your research endeavours!

  18. That’s really neat. After you’re able to research the 1950 census, I hope you’ll write up what you remember of your mother’s involvement and then finding census pages of her work. I hope she had legible handwriting.

  19. This will be the first time my own family appears in a census. My parents got married about the same time they took the 1940 census. They had three children by the time the 1950 census was taken and I was number three. This is my first appearance in a census 🙂

    Looking forward to getting some old questions answered.

  20. I remember how much time it took to search at the federal archives with the sodden system. It took me 4 hours rolling through microfilm to find my 4 years old grandfather in Tennessee. I don’t think younger researchers realized how many hours it took to gather together a family tree. I am 80 and very thankful for those who made this possible online.

  21. For Ruben Benjamin Lindley: Try looking for an older or younger sibling. Census takers weren’t always given a lot of time, making errors is part of being human. I couldn’t find one of my husband’s grandfathers and spent a very long time looking. His name was also Ruben, just spelled differently and the census taker had listed him as “F” instead of “M” on the census form. I found him looking for his younger brother.

    1. I use a lot of wild cards too. Enumerators weren’t always the best spellers. One of my ancestor’s shows up on a census as Youdishe. Her name was Eudocia.

  22. I was born in 1950, but I still won’t see my name in the 1950 census because I was born too late—in November of that year. My brother, who was born in 1948, will be in it, though. My only regret is that will NEVER see my name in a census. But I am the genealogist in my family, and doing our tree on Ancestry has been such great fun and so rewarding that it won’t make that much difference.

  23. I find Newspapers on Ancestry useless. The main reason most researchers use Newspapers is for obituaries but I find I need a full subscription to Newspapers is required to access obits

    1. Hello Barb,
      I use the Newspapers on Ancestry all the time. Besides obituaries there are articles about the neighborhoods people grew up in and the people who lived there. I often type in names of people I knew in the family. My best find was an article about my grandmother eloping at 17 with her boyfriend at the time. It made the newspaper because of the drama it caused within the family. She went on to marry him but later divorced. Our family knew nothing about this first marriage. I hope you keep searching. I find it very interesting.

      Thank you!

  24. I’m looking so forward to viewing the 1950 census. I also have been doing our family Genealogy for about 40 years now, even before the help of online help. 1950 is my birth year, but I’ll not be on it for I was born after my folks took it. Thanks, Newspaper, for this update.

  25. In 1950 my father was stationed in Tokyo, Japan and my mother, brother and I had gone to join him in 1947. I am hoping that the Military included all of the service men and families in the Census.

  26. My mother is 93 yrs old so this will be her 3rd census she’s been on. Will be looking forward to the 1950 census. My father was born in Garfield NJ and had dozens of relatives I never knew. Found them all on Ancestry and which had all the obits I was looking for showing deceased and surviving relatives with maiden and married names. Many wedding announcements and photos also. Just don’t use ‘the street you grew up on as a security question’ Ha Ha!

  27. I’m looking so forward to viewing the 1950 census. I have been doing our family Genealogy for over 30 years, and can’t wait to see what information the new release will bring. I’ve traced back 9 generations. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle, and each new find extends the tree out further, and completes the picture of the family history.

  28. The Census Bureau says on its website that it is releasing the 1950 Census, searchable by name or address, on April 1 (this coming Friday), considerably earlier than “this summer,”

    1. Hi David, you are correct. The census will be released on Friday but it will take several months until it is completely indexed and searchable.

  29. Once in a while the census can be really strange. My mother’s family showed an extra (non-existent) child in 1930. I double checked with my aunt, she couldn’t explain it, and she was old enough that she would have remembered.

  30. I am excited to see the 1950 Census. I was born in 1941 & will be on this one. My mother worked as a census taker & I got to go with her. She worked in the area that we lived in. We didn’t have a car & we walked.

  31. I, too, am anxiously awaiting the 1950 U. S. Census. I have been active in Ancestry since Dec. 2017. I am enjoying finding ancestors I never knew I had. I increased my fee to include newspapers, but unless Ancestry allows a free weekend, I cannot access I wish I knew how to get this straightened out as I do not like paying for something I don’t get.

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