January 14, 2022
I don’t know about you, but I’m excited about the release of 1950 census in just under three months. I’m sure I’m not the only genealogist who has cleared her calendar for April 1, 2022. The National Archives will be releasing a digitized version of the census that morning, for free. Other genealogical websites such as Ancestry and FamilySearch will also post the census later that day.
Unlike the 1940 census which was un-indexed when it was released, the 1950 census will be searchable by name immediately upon release (at least on the National Archives website). This feature is possible because the Archives is using an Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology tool. According to a recent news article released by the Archives (https://www.archives.gov/news/articles/1950-census-access ), this will make accessibility much easier.
Supposedly, the OCR technology is going to be equivalent to having human eyes index the census. Hopefully, this will be true. Having tried to find names in digitized newspapers which were indexed via OCR technology, I’m keeping my fingers crossed. OCR is great, but certainly not perfect. I want to make sure I have a back up plan in case the OCR technology doesn’t turn out to be as reliable as hoped.
For that reason, I’m checking out David Morse’s One-Step Webpages for information on finding folks in the 1950 census. It can be found at https://stevemorse.org/ . It’s a great spot to spend some time learning about ways to expedite your searches in records such as passenger lists and the various U.S. censuses. Right now is a good time to check out his articles on the 1950 census and learn about finding family in un-indexed censuses.
If you’re chomping at the bit for the release of the 1950 census, you’ll also want to visit the Family Search Wiki at https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/United_States_Census_1950 . This article contains all kinds of information about the content of the 1950 census including a list of exactly what questions were asked and copies of blank population schedules. You can even access forms for special schedules such as an Infant Card for children born January through March of 1950.
I’ve been spending time on both David Morse’s website and the Wiki pages at Family Search. I want to hit the ground running when the 1950 census arrives. It’s the last census on which all of my grandparents are listed and the first one on which I appear (as a two-year old). The nostalgia factor alone has me excited for April 1. More than that, the 1950 census promises to join the earlier, already-released, censuses as one of the workhorses of American genealogy. I can’t wait.