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 of April 1, 1950. This is the ninth in a series of blog posts on the 1950 census.


Enumerators were instructed to enumerate each person at his or her “usual place of residence.”  That is normally a simple concept.  It’s the place the person considers to be home or would name in reply to the question, “Where do you live?” “As a rule it is the place where the person usually sleeps.”  Thus, the enumerator was to count members of the household who were:


  • Living at home
  • Temporarily absent “on vacation, visiting, or on business.”
  • In a hospital but expected to return in a short period of time.
  • New-born babies who had not yet left the hospital.
  • Students attending a school below the college level who resided in another place.
  • Live-in domestic or other employees who slept in the same dwelling unit.
  • Boarders or lodgers who regularly slept in the same dwelling unit.
  • Military servicemen stationed in the vicinity who lived and slept off post. (Those on post would be enumerated on post.)


Consistent with the rules above, the enumerator was not to enumerate:


  • Temporary visitors to the household who had a usual place of residence elsewhere.
  • Citizens of foreign countries visiting or traveling in the U.S. (vacationers) and persons living on the premises of an Embassy, Ministry, Legation, Chancellory, or Consulate.  (All other foreigners were enumerated.)
  • Students or children living or boarding away from home while attending “some regular school below the college level ... and having a usual place of residence elsewhere from which they will be reported.”
  • College and university students living away from home. (They would be enumerated in the Enumeration District where they lived while attending school). Likewise, student nurses would be enumerated as residents of the hospital, nurses’ home, or other place in which they lived while receiving their training.
  • Persons who ate meals with the household “but usually lodge or sleep elsewhere.”
  • Domestic employees or other persons employed by the household but who did not sleep in the same dwelling unit.
  • Former members of the household who resided in correctional or penal institutions; homes for the aged, needy, chronically ill, and handicapped; nurses’ homes; convents and monasteries; and similar places.  (They would be enumerated at their institution.)
  • Officers and crews of ships and persons living in lighthouses. (The Bureau made special arrangements with the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and U.S.-flag merchant vessels in foreign, coastwise, intercoastal, and Great Lakes trade, to enumerate crews of their vessels.)
  • Persons working abroad for the U.S. Government (who would be enumerated under special procedures).
  • Household members absent on military service. 


Of course there are always complications:


  • Persons who slept most of the week (four nights or more) in one locality to be near their workplace but spent weekends and other nonwork periods with family in another locality were to be enumerated where they slept most of the week.
  • Persons with no fixed place of work, such as traveling salesmen, railroad trainmen, porters, crews on canal barges or river vessels, and so forth, who slept away from the family residence “most of the time” were to be enumerated at their family residence.
  • Persons “with no usual place of residence” were to be enumerated in the Enumeration District where they were at the time of the enumeration.
  • Persons who moved into the Enumeration District (ED) after April 1, 1950, for permanent residence were to be enumerated unless the enumerator learned that they had “already been enumerated in the ED from which they came.”


The Bureau gave these rules and explanations for “usual place of residence” to the enumerators so that there was a uniform and systematic approach to common enumeration problems.  These rules helped reduce the twin problems of either undercounting or double-counting certain populations.


Adapted from Urban and Rural Enumerator's Reference Manual, 1950 Census of the United States, pages 22-27.