What People Hope to Discover in the 1950 Census

A Johnson family photo and arrows pointing to their names in the 1940 census.

Is it April 1, 2022 yet? This year, just as spring turns North America green again, the National Archives and Records Administration will breathe new life into the exciting world of family history by releasing the 1950 U.S. census records. After a comprehensive and volunteer human review of the data, users from beginner to expert will have the opportunity to dive into the searchable index. (Learn more about the 1950 census.)

Recently, the FamilySearch team asked a dozen people to tell us what they’re most excited to discover in the index. We think you’ll find their enthusiasm contagious! Do any of their responses mirror yours?

Mom holding baby in 1950

More About My Parents and Family

“I can’t wait to find my parents as children [in the census documents]! Also my aunts and uncles as children. Neither of my parents lived with their birth fathers then, as young children, so I'm curious where those men were. And where were the families of my non-blood aunts and uncles? But mostly more about my parents and their families!”

— Julie Hilton

Connecting with Living Cousins

“When my great-grandparents came to the United States from Northern England, they came so that their two sons would not have to grow up working in the mines. There had been an awful colliery accident where lots of miners lost their lives. They settled in Benton, Illinois for a time because my great-grandfather had brothers who lived there. My great-grandparents later moved to Pennsylvania and after their daughter married (the eldest) they moved to Akron, Ohio.

With the 1950 census coming soon, I would like to find other family members close to my age who are descendants of my great-grandfather's brothers. They have an uncommon last name. Oyston. My great-grandfather was William Oyston, and his brothers were Josiah, James, and John. So I'm not looking for anyone in particular, just great-grandchildren of the brothers who could be about my age. I would love to connect with them and hear their family stories. Maybe some of them will be on social media. One could hope.”

— Linda Aughenbaugh O'Dell

Finding Lost Aunts and Uncles

“I have spent the last couple days looking at my pedigree chart trying to decide how I will use the 1950 census. By 1950, my mom's siblings had all been moved to live with various aunts and uncles. I think I would first look to see where they all were and who exactly they were living with.”

— Linda Gray Dyches

A family portrait from the 1950s

Learning the Life Details

“I think mostly I will want to look up all my grandparents and aunts and uncles first. There is often so much information on the census records, but I have only one aunt and one uncle out of seventeen still alive to talk to. I will love to learn anything else I can about them.

A couple in the who would have lived during the 1950 U.S. census.

And then I would go back another generation to any that were still living at that time and see what else I can learn. It will be fun to see my parents. It will be right before they met and my dad may have been in Korea at that time, but maybe not quite yet.”

— Allyson Farnsworth McKinney

Solving a 1930 Mystery

“With my dad's family I discovered a mystery from the 1930 census. Then in 1940 I learned more about my dad's family. While the mystery is still in 1930, I hope for the 1950 census to learn more about my dad's family and get me closer to answers.”

— Laura Medeiros

My Adopted Great Uncle

“For me it will be more information on my grandparents' generation. For example, I have a great-uncle who we didn't know very much about because he was adopted by relatives after his mother died, and his last name was changed. I am very curious about where he was living in 1950.”

— Margo Mead

More About “Big Edge”

“My family hopes to find information on ‘Big Edge’ Wojnarowski, a man of questionable repute in our hometown in the 1940’s. With the help of a friend in the local historical society in that area, we found some information about him, but the 1950 census might add more. ‘Big Edge’ is part of my husband’s family and his reputation was being part owner of an illegal gambling house. He did seemingly finally shape up, as he was a salesman at a reputable car dealership in the 60’s or 70’s.”

— Pam Redd Warren

An Eccentric Family

“I personally am very excited for the 1950 census release. The 1940 records were very fun to index. I am hoping to find more definitive information about my mother's maternal family. They tended to be … a bit eccentric. My grandmother's age was progressively younger with each census. Her family actually had one of her siblings declared dead because she moved out of the family home. Turns out she was living less than a mile away. I want to find her.”

— Candy Estrada

Tracking Family Moves

“I want to find my parents and my sisters. They were in the process of moving from West Virginia to Ohio and I want to know which state enumerated them.”

— Peggy Clemens Lauritzen

Woman smiling from window of car in 1950

Family History for a Silent Family

“I’m 30 years old, relatively young when we’re talking about family history. I come from a family where both sides are fairly private. I don’t even really know how my parents met. They just don’t talk about it, and when asked, evade and change the subject. This is one reason why I went into the genealogy field.

I want to find answers about a silent family. I have a deep passion for stories and people. Put the two together and I want to know everything about everyone. But especially my own family. What are my grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ stories? I know a lot about generations before those two because there are records: census records, agriculture schedules, newspaper articles, school records, and so many more. But for privacy, there’s very little on my grandparents and great-grandparents. Three out of four of my grandparents were born between 1940 and 1950!

And I’m sure, based on history, that there will be multiple siblings, too, during that time. With the release of the 1950 census, I look forward to seeing my grandparents on the records, learning more about where they were, where they came from, and how they got to where they are now. I’m excited to fill out my family tree even more, to be able to put down my grandparents’ siblings and to learn more about my extended family.

I also can’t wait to get more details about which of my great x2 and x3 grandparents were still alive for the 1950s census. I have a couple that I believe died in the early 1950s, and this will help me narrow down if that’s accurate or not. Every little bit of new information we get helps to fill in gaps missing in my family tree. I look forward to getting answers, even small ones.”

— Rachel Sanford

Family with dog in 1950s

Answers to an Adoption Question

“My father was orphaned in 1944. His grandmother left the area he lived in 1946. I'm hoping the 1950 census will give me a clue as to who raised him from age 10.”

— Carol J. Alexander

Lots of Family to Look Up

“I'm looking for information on my aunt's biological father. She was adopted by my/our grandparents when her mother, my biological aunt, gave her up. I have had trouble finding info on any of Aunt Wanda's three husbands. I’m also looking for residency for several cousins, aunts/uncles and tracking Garver family members.

I grew up with a story about my [biological] great grandpa coming to Missouri on a wagon train and all of his family dying on the way. I found out from the 1880 census that none of that was true. He, his parents and seven siblings lived in a county south of where our family settled. So I'd like to track at least some of those branches.”

— Penny Garver

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