Ancestry's AI Helped Process 1950 Census

On April 1, 2022 the 1950 U.S. Census was released and Ancestry has been working around the clock to create over 150 million searchable records, state-by-state using their new AI handwriting recognition technology. Ancestry is excited to announce that just 9 days later, all states have been processed – the next step in enabling users to find relatives and more detailed information, faster than ever before. 

When Ancestry created a similar index in 2012 for the 1940 U.S. Census, the manual transcription process took over nine months.

The work Ancestry teams did to train the AI has produced incredible results, transcribing every field of information on the census form to create a searchable index. Before Ancestry releases each state index, they’ve partnered with FamilySearch volunteers to evaluate the handwriting recognition extraction and ensure a complete an accurate index. This dedicated community of volunteers has been amazed at the quality of the index they are reviewing.

“The volunteers working on the project have been amazed at the remarkable quality of the handwriting recognition technology from Ancestry, even with names that are difficult for humans to decipher. Many people have suggested that the automated indexing was able to interpret writing that they might have missed or indexed incorrectly. While the automated process can’t account for every anomaly on the forms, the volunteers working on the project have been impressed by its overall quality and accuracy.” – Jim Ericson, FamilySearch Marketing Manager for Europe and North America.

Ancestry developed machine learning to power its proprietary AI Handwriting Recognition technology to make all of the fields of these records searchable, rather than just names  – enabling anyone to quickly and more accurately find family members. For example, someone looking for a frequently used name like John Smith may see thousands of names, making it difficult to know which one is their ancestor. The Ancestry AI powered index of all the fields can help you better pinpoint specific people to reduce the time it takes to make discoveries.

Help Review Your State Index:

It’s easy to volunteer. You can do it at your own pace and whenever you have some free time. If you would like to volunteer to help your state become available faster, please visit to learn more.

Related Articles at

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1950 Census – How It Was Done in 1950

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