Censuses are a crucial tool for anyone interested in their families or the United States’ history. Through them you can see what everyone was doing on a particular day in a particular year.
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From the poorest resident of the backstreet of Chicago or San Antonio to the President himself, the census gives you information that you would be unable to find anywhere else.
A census will not only tell you where someone lives but how much money they earn (depending on the year), where they were born and facts about their family life that will open up a new world of the past to you.
So if you want to find out when your grandparents or parents were in 1950, how will you be able to do so? When will the 1950 census be released you might ask yourself – is it sealed within the vaults of the US government forever? The answer is soon – April 2022.
The reason that the census won’t be released until then is because of something that the National Archives calls the 72 Year Rule.
Why Will The Census Only Be Released In April 2022?
As mentioned above the 72 Year Rule is the reason that the 1950 census won’t be released until April 2022.
This is because under US law no identifiable information relating to a person can be published or released until 72 years have elapsed since the decennial census was taken unless directly to the person or to their legal heir.
This ensures that information that is private or personal which is contained within the 1950 census – such as the amount of money people earn or where they live – stays private.
While this may be frustrating for family historians, it is an important insurance that keeps individuals’ privacy private.
How Will The National Archives Release The Census?
You might be wondering how, when the National Archives are given the 1950 census, they will choose to release them. Firstly, the microfilm which contains the census date for everyone in the United States in 1950 will be transferred onto the National Archives database.
This will, understandably, take a while to comb through to ensure that all information is available and legible – the last thing archivists want is for those accessing the archives to be unable to read them!
Once the census has been digitized this information will be passed on to the genealogical website Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.com and a variety of genealogical websites to look up information related to the 1950 census.
Genealogical websites already have searchable copies of all US censuses from 1790 to 1940. The US, therefore, has one of the most comprehensive collections of censuses anywhere in the world meaning family historians will be even more fortunate when the 1950 census is released.
What Will Be Included In The 1950 Census?
As mentioned above, there will be a lot of information included in the 1950 census. However, you might be wondering the exact extent of that information. There were 20 questions asked during the 1950 census making it one of the most thorough that has been carried out to date.
Alongside basic information such as where someone was born or where they lived, the census contains information on the type of structure a house might have been, how many toilets there were and if a business was run in the building or not.
This will allow you to get a vivid picture of the place you are researching or the family history you are diving into. The 1950 census’ wealth of information is, therefore, highly sought after as it may fill in many gaps that already exist in a person’s family tree.
How Easy Will It Be To Search The 1950 Census?
Once the census is released in April 2022, it will be very easy to search. As with other previously released censuses, you will be able to search via a person’s full name, surname or search through a particular area.
As the census will feature many people with similar names, it will be important to note some key things about the person you are searching for. If you are looking for a John Smith you will be unlikely to find him simply by looking for him by his name!
As the census contains so much data, people are often distinguished from one another by the year they were born, where they were born or their relatives. By focussing on these factors, you will be sure to find whoever it is you are looking for on the 1950 census.
How Long Will The Census Be Available For?
For those people worried that the census will only be available for a limited time, fear not.
Once the census has been released by the National Archives, it will be publicly available forever.
Censuses may be official government documents but unlike files from the FBI or CIA, they are not classified for decades because of national security reasons but because of privacy concerns. As such, as soon as the census is available online it will not be removed.
Why The 1950 Census Is Important
The release of the 1950 census in April 2022 will be important for a number of reasons. It will not only give people more access to their recent past but it will also be a valuable indication of where America was at the halfway point of the 20th century.
Five years after the Second World War, America was rebuilding itself. This will be clearly able to be seen in the census.
Once the census is released it will potentially change how we think of America. 1950 is not so long ago for many people and this connection between the past and the present may allow many people to think about how American society has changed and their own place in it.
It will be a testament to an America that no longer exists except in the records and the memories of the people who lived through it.