No April Fools here, just excited genealogists!
The long-awaited 1950 census has been released in a dedicated website by the National Archives! Per National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) policy, only the censuses from 72 years prior are available to the public. These records are invaluable for genealogical and local history research, often serving as an anchor point for research into an individual’s residence, relationships, and occupation. Over time, the process for enumerating the census and the information that has been recorded have evolved, from listing only the head of household and tally marks in appropriate columns for other household members to providing general life information about every member of the household including age, schooling, and occupation .
NARA has established a dedicated website for the 1950 census, which you can find at 1950census.archives.gov. You can find additional information here, including some webinar sessions hosted by NARA experts about how the census was conducted and how the records can be used for research.
So there’s a census website….now what??
If you are raring to go and ready to find some folks on the 1950 census right away, you may have a couple of extra steps compared to the earlier censuses that are accessible through online resources like FamilySearch (available to anyone after creating a free account) or AncestryLibrary (available in person at Main Library only). While the 1950 census is digitized and has automated text transcription (known as Optical Character Recognition, or OCR), the transcription will likely be somewhat prone to error, as handwritten records are still a challenge for OCR technology. So you may or may not be able to do a text search for the name you are looking for and find it right away- the computer system may not have “read” that name right yet.
If you are not able to find a head of household by searching their name, you can also browse through the census records for their enumeration district. To find this number, you will need to locate the household on the enumeration district map, like this one to the right. If you do not have their address, you may be able to find it by consulting the city directories in the Sherman Room.
Once you have the address, you can then review the census records from the enumeration district where the address falls to visually scan for the household you are looking for. If possible, it also helps to have an idea of what families lived nearby, so that if you see them you know you are on the right track.
The Mansfield enumeration district map for the 1950 Census. National Archives and Records Administration. 
As an example, on the left is an image from the Mansfield Enumeration District Map. The Mansfield/Richland Public Library is located on West Third Street, between Main and Weldon. This puts it in the 70-56 enumeration district. So if it were a residence and you were looking for a person who lived there, you could go to the population schedules (P-10 forms) for that district and look through for the names you wanted to find.
The enumeration districts for Mansfield for the 1950 census are 70-26 through 70-80 and the Shelby districts are 70-6 through 70-16. On the census website, you will need to select “Ohio” before searching by an enumeration district number to see the relevant census records, or you might end up with results from a similar enumeration district number in another state. Within the city of Mansfield (or Shelby), most of the census enumeration records will be on the P-10 sheets, but in the countryside there will be households that were enumerated on a P-11 form, which was a separate form for farms and residences on lots greater than 3 acres. If this is the case, there will be a notation in the regular enumeration forms indicating that there is a separate P-11 form, and the separate P-11 forms will be found after all the P-10 forms for an enumeration district.
Need further help?
If you would like further help finding a person on the census, the Sherman Room will be open to assist with genealogy and local history research! See the Local History and Genealogy page here for current hours and resources.
- “About Census Records.” National Archives, 28 Mar. 2022, https://www.archives.gov/research/census/about.
- National Archives and Records Administration. 1950 Census Enumeration District Maps – Ohio (OH) – Richland County – Mansfield – ED 70-26 to 80. https://catalog.archives.gov/id/27865011
- National Archives and Records Administration. 1950 Census Enumeration District Maps – Ohio (OH) – Richland County – Shelby – ED 70-6 to 16. https://catalog.archives.gov/id/27865015