1950 United States Census—Release Date and Research Help

December 4, 2020  - by 
man recording 1950 us census records with two young boys and mother watching

Image courtesy of the United States Census Bureau

The date 1 April 2022 can’t come fast enough! Why? Because that is the date of the release of the 1950 United States census. As you wait for the release of the census, learn more about what you can expect from the 1950 census and what records you can search in the meantime!

Details of the Release of the 1950 United States Census

When and How Will the 1950 Census Be Released?

The National Archives releases a census to the public only 72 years after the day the census was taken. Because census day in 1950 was 1 April, the 1950 census will be released to the public on the same date in 2022.

In 2012, the National Archives provided digital images of the 1940 census to FamilySearch. Then FamilySearch uploaded those digital images to their website. Those who had a free FamilySearch account were able to see the digital images right away. However, the records were not indexed and so had to be searched page-by-page by location. We expect the same thing to happen for the 1950 census.

boy in the 1950s examining a small plane

How Long Will It Take for the 1950 Census to Be Indexed?

The time it will take to index the census depends on how many wonderful volunteers dedicate their time to the effort! To give you some perspective of the scope of the project, approximately 132,164,569 persons were enumerated in the 1940 census. In contrast, the estimated population of the United States in 1950 was a little over 150 million.

In 2012, FamilySearch began the project to index the 1940 United States census in hopes of indexing the entire census in 6 months. With over 163,000 volunteers and several genealogical organizations contributing their time and efforts, the census was indexed in just 4 months except for Puerto Rico!

What Kinds of Records Can I Use in the Meantime?

You can search and use many records now as you patiently wait for the release of the 1950 United States census. Here are just a few of them.

School Records

School records, such as school registrations, grade books, and yearbooks, may provide you with lots of genealogical information.

In this school census from Clay County, Minnesota, for the years 1951–1954, you will see pupils listed with their names, birth dates, the names of parents or guardians, and local residence.

school census records from the 1950s

State Censuses

Not all states conducted a state census, but many did. For example, in 1945, both Florida and South Dakota conducted state censuses.

The Florida state census in 1945 asked for the name of everyone who lived in a household, along with the person’s sex, age, place of birth, degree of education, and occupation.

The South Dakota census in 1945 asked residents for their name, age, occupation, birthplace, ancestry, father’s birthplace, mother’s birthplace, level of education, military service, maiden name of wife, marital status, year of marriage, church affiliation, and race and, if someone was foreign born, whether the person was naturalized.

South Dakota 1945 Census Record example

County and City Enumerations

Did you know that counties and cities may have also conducted enumerations, or censuses? These types of enumerations may have even been done yearly. To find out whether a locale had a county or city enumeration, call a local genealogical society, historical society, or public library history department, and ask. You may be pleasantly surprised!

City Directories

City directories were often published yearly. Many researchers do not realize the amount of information available in this type of record. In some cases, city directories not only give the name and address of residents, but also their occupation, place of employment, and death date if applicable!

Where Can I Search 1950 Historical Records?

You can search the above records and many more all on FamilySearch! Just click on the button below and start searching, or check out our search guides if you need a little more help.

Life in the Decade before the 1950 Census

World War II and its effects dominated life in the United States in the 1940s. Though the war began in 1939, the United States did not actively enter the conflict until December 1941. Over 16,000,000 men and women from the United States fought in the war, and over 400,000 gave their lives.

Technology and innovation during the decade included such things as advanced radar, jet engines, the use of helicopters, and the atomic bomb. Once the war ended in 1945, soldiers were anxious to return to love, everyday life, and family, which led the way to the great baby boom!

Learn more about the decade leading up to the 1950 census and the years that followed!

How did the events of the 1940s and 1950s affect your family? Preserve those family stories in FamilySearch Memories.

Amie Tennant

Amie Bowser Tennant is a genealogy researcher, writer and presenter.She writes blog articles and other content for many top companies and societies in the genealogy field. Her most treasured experience is working as a consultant for family history. Amie lives with her husband and three children in Ohio, surrounded by many of her extended family.

Latest posts by Amie Tennant (see all)

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Comments

  1. It used to be that we only had to wait 50 years for the census to be released. Wonder when and how this law was changed,

    1. Hi Alice! Thank you for your comment. In 1934 the National Archives was formed, and in 1942 the Census Bureau transferred most of the census records to the National Archives. The National Archives decided to open all censuses up to and including 1870. This established a de facto 72-year rule. In 1952 the Census Bureau transferred the 1950 census to the National Archives under the condition that all censuses remained sealed for 72 years. With that agreement, the 1880 census was released and the 72-year rule was now well established. For more information, please check out this article by Stephen P. Morse and Joel D. Weintraub, “GETTING READY FOR THE 1950 CENSUS: Searching With and Without a Name Index”.

  2. I personally cannot wait to see he 1950 United States Census and what new things I may learn about my relatives. It cannot be soon enough.

    1. Sorry for the spelling error he should have been the
      I personally cannot wait to see THE 1950 United States Census and what new things I may learn about my relatives. It cannot be soon enough.

  3. You might let your readers know that Steve Morse, Joel Weintraub (that’s me) and our volunteers took less than 8 years to put locational tools for the 1950 Census on theOne-Step, stevemorse.org website. It’s on the Unified Tool. You can, if you have a location for many smaller communities (we transcribed all 230,000 or so ED definitions which are searchable on the website), or addresses for over 2,400 urban areas, get the 1950 Enumeration District number right now, so you will be prepared when the census becomes public in 2022. We have many help files to understand our freely available tools. Joel also has two YouTube videos on his “JDW Talks” channel that discuss the 1950 census including how to use the tools.

    1. Thank you for sharing this information!!! The One-Step site is amazing. I can’t wait to go back through some brick walls with this tool.

  4. Great article. Like you I look forward to the release. It was fun indexing for the 1940. I think they will have incentives again.

  5. I need some help on my Family Tree. I would like to know if someone can till me how I can fine out were I can fine info on My Dad’s Mother Ursula Molk. She came from Yugoslavia.

    1. Betty, if you go to Ancestry.com someone started a family tree with Ursula Molk from Yugoslavia. Don’t know if this is the person you are looking for.
      Ursula Molk
      Birth 01 OCT 1887 • Borovnica, Serbian Republic, Bosnia
      Death 1959 • Belle Fourche, Butte, South Dakota, USA
      It lists her husband and children.
      Hope this will help you.
      Denise

  6. I considered it an honor to be one of those who was able to participate in the index the 1940 census. I would like to be given that rare opportunity again for The 1950 USFC. If it has not yet started, does anyone know when it will? Is there a waiting list I can get on to be notified when it will start? Has this already been accomplished?

    1. Hi Gerard! The 1950 US Census will be released 1 April 2022. Indexing will not commence before that date. Please watch the FamilySearch blog for more information next year regarding the 1950 US Census.

  7. FamilySearch has had the 1890 Census for Washington County, Georgia on microfilm for 60 years. When will it be indexed and published?

    1. Hi Roberta! Thank you for your question. The 1950 US Census will be publicly released in April 2022 and at that time indexing will commence.

    1. Hi David! Thank you for your question. You were probably enumerated with the Navy. Next April 2022, when the 1950 Census becomes publicly available, you will be able to check it out and find how you were enumerated.

      1. Hi David, It depends. If you were stationed at a port in the United States or it’s territories, you should find yourself at that area’s population schedules. If you were based abroad its a different story. The Census Bureau has indicated it enumerated citizens abroad on federal salary (military, consulate, etc.) in 1950. However, I don’t think those questionnaires (they weren’t full schedules, they did self-enumeration, there were no enumeration district numbers assigned to that sample as far as I saw when we transcribed all the EDs on 1950 National Archive films) will be part of the rollout. See my YouTube video at JDW Talks on the subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3Dar920k0w titled “Missing From 1950 Census Schedules – Americans Living Abroad”. I hope I’m not right, but my evidence points to that conclusion. Amy… I now have 11 YouTube videos on the 1950 census including two videos on training sessions for 1950 enumerators that readers here would enjoy. Hope you get to find yourself David.