NARA expects to digitally release the 1950 population census schedules for researcher use on April 1, 2022, which is 72 years after the official 1950 census day. This is the 13th in a series of blog posts on the 1950 census.
This is our second look, in detail, at the Form P1, Population and Housing Schedule, that was used in most of the United States. This post will focus on Items 1-6 that provided “Household Information.”
Item 1 was for “Street, avenue, or road.” The enumerator wrote lengthwise (sideways) in this column the name of the street, avenue, court, place, alley, or road. If there was no street name, the enumerator was to write in the blank “Notes” section in the middle of the page “the location of the house in such a way that someone else will be able to find it.”
If the street had a name but no house numbers, the enumerator was to write the name of the street and give location by direction from its intersection with another street, such as “Douglas Avenue, west of Sherman.” When the enumerator went from one street to another, he or she was to draw a horizontal line to indicate the end of the enumerator’s work on the first street and the beginning of the enumerator’s work on the next street. Remember that an enumerator might work on a particular street several times during the enumeration due to the instruction to go around a complete block before beginning the next block, as described in the prior post, 1950 Census: Field Enumeration Procedures.
Items 2 through 6, described below, were only written on the line for the head of household of each dwelling unit.
Item 2 was for “House (and apartment) number.” The enumerator was to write the house number (street address) if it had one. If it had more than dwelling unit, the apartment number or location were to be given, such as “Apt. 1” or “3rd floor rear.” If there was a second house behind the first house at the same address, it was to be indicated as “rear of ___” whatever number the “front” house had. If there was no house number the enumerator was to describe its location in such a way that someone else would be able to find it, such as “1st house on right after fire house.”
Item 3 was for “Serial number of dwelling unit.” This was a sequential count of the number of dwelling units visited by the enumerator. The enumerator was to “number the dwelling units in your ED in the order in which you first visit them” even if it was necessary to return to the dwelling unit at a later time to obtain needed information. Serial numbers were to be assigned to all dwelling units, whether occupied by residents, nonresidents, or vacant.
Lodging houses, hotels, and similar places usually contained multiple dwelling units. The enumerator was instructed that “Each group occupying separate living quarters that meet the definition of a dwelling unit should be assigned a separate serial number” while “roomers who rent sleeping quarters only should be listed with the members of the household’s family.” A dwelling unit was defined as “a group of rooms or a single room, occupied or intended for occupancy as separate living quarters, by a family or other group of persons living together or by a person living alone.” We will return to this subject in a future post but, in general, quarters that did “not have separate cooking equipment” or a separate entrance from the landlord’s quarters were to be enumerated as part of the landlord’s household.
Item 4 was for the yes or no question: “Is this house on a farm (or ranch)?” In urban areas, the enumerator was to supply the answer himself or herself by observation. In rural areas, the enumerator was to let the respondent answer the question. Some farms might contain two or more houses, and it was fine if the respondents at each house gave different answers. For example, Mr. Anderson owned and lived on his farm and would answer “yes” that he lived on a farm. Mr. Anderson had a second house with a small yard on his property that he rented to Mr. Brown who worked in the nearby city. Mr. Brown would undoubtedly say “no” he did not live on a farm. Those who answered “yes” to the farm question would also be required to answer questions on the Form A1, Agricultural Questionnaire, which is not extant. For institutions, summer camps, and tourist camps, “no” was always the correct answer for this question even if there were some agricultural operations present.
Item 5, “Is this house on a place of three or more acres?” was to be answered if the response to Item 4 was “no” and skipped if Item 4 was “yes.” Urban areas sometimes had places of three or more acres that were “not thought of as farms” but would still be required to answer the questions on Form A1, Agricultural Questionnaire. Likewise, if our hypothetical Mr. Brown, mentioned above, answered “No” to item 4 but rented three or more acres, he would answer the Form A1, Agricultural Questionnaire, concerning his rented acreage.
Item 6, “Agricultural Questionnaire Number” was written by the enumerator. Unfortunately, these questionnaires are not extant and therefore will not be part of the release of the 1950 census. Numbers were assigned sequentially. If two (or more) dwelling units on the property each required a Form A1, Agricultural Questionnaire, the same number was to be indicated for both. In rural areas, “if some other enumerator is required to fill out the Agricultural Questionnaire” then the enumerator was to write “Other ED” in item 6. This situation occurred if the person in charge of the farm lived in a different Enumeration District (ED) than the farm. In urban areas, enumerators were not trained in taking the Form A1 so they were issued Form A2, Special Agricultural Questionnaire, for those places that were farms, had three or more acres, or specialized agricultural operations. Answers on the Form A2 would determine if there were agricultural operations that required a Form A1. The urban enumerator was instructed: “If there are agricultural operations, someone will be sent to each place to fill the Agricultural Questionnaire at a later date (Form A1). You simply tell the respondent that you have not been trained in filling the Agricultural Questionnaire and that someone who has been trained will call at a later date.”
Although Items 1-6 were six simple questions, they certainly require a lot of explanation! In the next blog post, we will look at Items 7-14, questions for all persons.
Adapted from Urban and Rural Enumerator's Reference Manual, 1950 Census of the United States, pages 29-31, 68, and 102.