1950 Census Released, Early Discoveries Made

By tim, 10 April, 2022
1950 Census Blank (NARA)

JENKINTOWN, Pennsylvania (GBT) — The National Archives and Records Administration released the 1950 Census online last Friday, April 1st, 2022. Every ten years the administration publicly releases the census taken 72 prior to the release date. Prior to April 1st, the most recent census released by the administration was the 1940 census, which it released on April 1st, 2012. Each census release is a bonanza for genealogists, who can trace family relationships, movements, and occupations through the documents.

The administration released the 1950 census to the public through a specialized web site that it had created for that purpose. For the first time, the census has been made searchable online on the day of its release through optical character recognition (OCR) and artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) technology provided by Amazon Textract. When the 1940 census was released ten years ago, genealogists had to wait several weeks for private organizations to create digital indexes before the records became searchable by name.

Although the OCR and AI/ML technologies allow for more rapid online searches of the census images, they can not index every entry perfectly. The administration has therefore included a tool to allow users to improve upon the automatically generated data by adding their own transcriptions of the names they find in the census. Users may transcribe as much or as little of each census page as they like. I have been using the transcription feature to manually enter the names of relatives found in the census.

A pair of early Graham family discoveries were made on the weekend of the 1950 Census's release. First, Julia Corr Graham and her five children were discovered still living on Hancock Street in North Philadelphia. Julia's husband, Joseph A. Graham Sr., had passed away two years prior. Julia's eldest daughter, Sheila, who passed away this past January, is listed by occupation as a census taker for the U.S. Census. Many pages of the U.S. Census in Philadelphia should therefore bear her signature as an enumerator. My grandfather, Joseph A. Graham, is listed by occupation as a television installer at the age of 18.

On my maternal side, the identity of one "R L Anflick", who appeared in the 1950 Philadelphia City Directory, was confirmed to be that of my mother's Aunt Rose. She was then living with her father, Henry, on Addison Street in West Philadelphia. While Henry was listed as the head of the household on the census, it appears as though Rose was apparently handling the telephone bill. Rose was listed by occupation as a graduate nurse at the time. Rose's mother, Minnie Snyder Anflick, and older brother, Albert Anflick, were both discovered as inmates Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry, which was notorious for its poor sanitary conditions.

Searches through the 1950 Census will continue throughout the coming weeks, months, and years. Of particular interest are the whereabouts of Minnie's sisters, Pauline and Lillian. Their dates and places of death are still unknown, and the 1950 census may reveal additional clues to help solve those mysteries. ⬮