"PROJECT 1950" FOR US CENSUS LOCATIONAL SEARCHES


Welcome to Project 1950, actually two projects to provide free locational tools to find families and addresses on the 1950 census. Although that census won't be released to the public until April, 2022, it's never too early to start preparing for it. With a large lead time, and relatively little deadline pressures, we can accomplish quite a bit on this all-volunteer project.

We are looking for a few hundred dedicated volunteers over the next several years to help us with these two projects. But be aware that these projects aren't for everybody. Volunteers should have basic computer skills, typing skills, have access to the Internet, be detail people but not perfectionists, be independent workers and able to follow instructions, be patient enough to handle large amounts of information, and be comfortable with projects that may take weeks or months, not hours, to accomplish. You should be able to handle and manipulate images (jpgs) of maps and Enumeration District (ED) definition scans. A large computer monitor would be desirable but not essential. We will provide instructions for carrying out the work, and a place to ask questions. Volunteers may use some free programs to help speed up the entry process. We expect volunteers to make steady progress on their assignments, and we have the luxury of time right now to do it well.


A. Background

There are two ways to search in the census -- by name and by address/location. Searching by name is the easier way to go, but it is not always possible. For one thing, the name might have been written incorrectly on the census page because the census taker didn't hear it correctly. For anonther, the name might have been so poorly written that it was transcribed incorrectly when the name index was created. And there might not be a name index. In the case of the 1950 census, there probably will be no name index available on opening day -- April 1, 2022.

That means the only way that the 1950 census will probably be searched initially is by address or location, as happened when the 1940 census was first opened. However, the federal census is not organized by address but rather by something called an Enumeration District (ED). If you don't know the ED, you cannot easily access the census. So we need some aid for converting addresses/locations to EDs.

That is what this project is all about. We will be providing free, web-based utilities that allow researchers to go from an address or location to an ED number in the 1950 census.


B. Past Successes and Present Plans

The One-Step site has helped researchers find families by location on the 1880 through 1940 US Censuses (plus the 1870 2nd enumeration of NYC), and some NY State Censuses as well. Our free tools continue to help researchers find people when name indexes fail. The first day that the 1940 census was online, the One-Step site received about 2.25 million hits. We had seven years to work on three main 1940 utilities: the first provides the conversion from 1930 ED numbers to 1940 ED numbers; the second allows the searching for locations in the ED definitions that we transcribed; and the third allows for determining the ED numbers from the street indexes that we developed for over 1200 urban areas. With our permission, the tables that we developed for these utilities were also used by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on their 1940 website, Ancestry.com on their initial 1940 offering, and the NY Public Library's digitized 1940 phone book website.

The base material that we will be using for this project, namely NARA film series 1224, does not contain as much information for 1950 as it does for 1940. Because of that, we will be unable to produce a conversion table of 1940 to 1950 ED numbers. We will produce a searchable set of ED definitions for 1950 as well as providing street indexes for many urban areas.

So here's a quick overview of what you would be doing if you volunteer.

Phase I State and Territory ED Definitions

You will be provided with a stripped down US State or Territory text file from the 1940 project. You will use that as a template for recording the ED definitions found on the 1950 T1224 scans of the same area. You will end up with a searchable text file. Large States may be divided among several volunteers.

Phase II Street Indexes for Finding 1950 ED Numbers in Urban Areas

WE WILL NOT OPEN PHASE 2 FOR URBAN AREAS IN A SPECIFIC STATE/TERRITORY UNTIL THAT STATE/TERRITORY'S ED DEFINITION FILE IS COMPLETED IN PHASE I.

We will use scans of the ED definitions in concert with urban area maps to record all the boundary and internal streets of the 1950 EDs. For the 1940 census we produced street indexes for over 1200 urban areas, and for 1950 we have targeted as many as 2000 such areas. For many cities we have a number of map resources to help with the transcription.

A list of urban areas we are considering, along with the scans of the ED definitions for those areas can be seen at here. Select 1950 on that utility, and at the bottom of the window you will see drop-down lists that direct you to the scans showing the ED definitions of various locations. Although we prefer that one volunteer be responsible for an urban area, we might split the work among a number of volunteers for the larger cities. There are also volunteer opportunities for obtaining additional source material to be used in this projet.


C. Joining the Project

If you've read all of this and haven't gotten discouraged yet, contact Joel Weintraub at census1950@cox.net for more information on what you would be doing.

Thanks for considering Project 1950