1950 Census is released

1950 Census is released

In 2020 we all sat down at our computers and completed the census- or you might have completed yours on paper. At least I hope you completed the census. Last month I got the American Community Survey in the mail to fill out. What is all this paperwork anyway? What do they use it for?

Earlier this month we got a reminder of why this paperwork is important, the 1950 census was released to the public. The government waits 72 years to release each census. This means the census information we recently filled out will be available to the public on April 1, 2092. 

I found my parents in the census- (both were born before 1950). I found my grandparents and great grandparents too. I discovered that my great grandmother went to college for a year and learned how much income my great grandparents made in 1949. The information that seems kind of personal in 2020, will be really interesting information to people in 2092.

The 1950 census, and previous censuses are all handwritten. The homepage of the census site suggests searching by typing in a name. That may not work, since machines don't read cursive very well. If you don't find your surname, you can also search by voting precinct. This might be time-consuming, right now. As time goes on, volunteers will transcribe much of the cursive and the census will be easier to search online. 

Part of the challenge of genealogy is the search.  Even when the census is transcribed, researching your family will not be easy. Genealogy programs on TV, like "Finding Your Roots," have a large staff of professional researchers. 

One of the first places amateur genealogists often start is the library. At the Gering Library, we have microfilm of the Gering Courier dating back to 1887. We also have the land office government land tract books available on microfilm and historical books about the area.

The NebraskaAccess link on the library website has a large collection of genealogy websites. Type "genealogy" into the search bar to find links to large genealogy sites like MyHeritage (Library Edition), and Family Search which are similar to Ancestry, but free. They also link to Cyndi's List and many other useful sites you may not have heard of.

Another resource is the West Nebraska Family History and Research Center located in Scottsbluff. They have volunteers and a large collection of resources to help you find what you are looking for. You can find them online at www.nebraskaancestors.org or stop in at 1602 Ave A, in Scottsbluff.

A quick name search in the census turned up Elvis "Pressley", who in 1950 was 15 and living at 185 Winchester Ave, Apt #328, Memphis, Tennessee. His parents and his maternal grandmother, Minnie, lived with him.  

Any genealogist will tell you family research can be confusing. Names may be mis-spelled or even entirely different from what you thought. Sometimes marriages or children nobody knew about will show up on records like this.

Even if you aren't into genealogy, you might enjoy looking through the 1950 census to see what your family was doing 72 years ago. You can access the 1950 census at www.1950census.archives.gov.