Interesting Changes were in the 1950 US Census



There are some interesting changes that came during the 1950 US Census, not previously done. You will have access to the results to the 1950 census records which will be released in April 2022.

The 1950 census was done April 1, 1950 and included the continental United States, the territories of Alaska and Hawaii, American Samoa, the Canal Zone, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands of the United States, and some of the smaller island territories. NEW was including Americans who were living overseas at the time, that had not been done on earlier censuses. That included members of the armed forces, crews of vessels, and employees of the United States government living in foreign countries, along with any members of their families also abroad. However, those other persons (not covered above) living abroad were to be reported by their families or neighbors in the United States, but the quality of these data was considered to be poor and they were not included in the published statistics.

Another big change was in status – in the past censuses, it noted if an individual was married, single, widowed, or (sometimes) divorced. These categories were clues so you knew to look for a marriage license or a spouse’s death certificate or even a divorce record. Of course, your ancestors could have lied about being married or widowed when they were actually separated or divorced. I have seen that on early census records many times.

With the 1950 census, the marital status for each person was reported on line 12. It was marked (Mar) if married, (WD) if widowed, (D) if divorced, (Sep) for separated and if a person had never married it was marked (Nev). This applied to anyone in the household age 14 and older. In the past censuses, the age was age 15 and older. In the past, an ancestor might have been marked ‘single’ but had married even for a brief time years earlier and was no longer married at the census date. By using ‘never married’, that is a clear sign. Now children under the age of 14 were marked ‘never married’.

Another interesting item is the lines 33a, 33b and 33c. Here is clearly state “If a male” in the household ever serve in the U. S. Armed Forces during – -World War II, World War I and any other time, including present service. See only Males were asked. Yet, many women living in 1950 served during World War One and especially Two. My mother was an Army Lieutenant in the Women’s Army Corps during World War Two. Now won’t that interesting what the census taker put down for her, because she surely would have made it known she served.

Another interesting question asked on the 1950 census form: ‘What was this person doing most of last week—working, keeping house or something else?’ Used letters in column 15 – Wk, H, Ot, or U for unable to work.

So some interesting new information coming soon with the 1950 census. For many of you, it will be the first time you appear on a U. S. census.

Photos: 1950 Census taker; form for marital status and if served in the military.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

US Censuses

Tips on Census Searching

The First US Federal Census

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