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.  This is the tenth in a series of blog posts on the 1950 census.

Every 10 years, the Bureau of the Census needs to do two things.  (1) Take as complete a census as possible.  (2)  Remind the people in the United States what a census is and why they must—and need to—participate.


We, as genealogists, think about the census constantly.  We know what it is.  We look forward to participating.  We know that it is important for family history research and hope that our descendants will look us up in 72 years!  Most U.S. residents, however, need a reminder.


How do you do this?  You reach people where they get their news.  Today, people are online.  In the 1950s, radio and newspapers were the most important ways to reach educated persons and opinion leaders.  Over 53.8 million newspapers were printed on weekdays and 46.6 million on Sunday.  The Bureau wrote generic press releases that its district supervisors could send to local newspapers.  It drafted statements that local government officials could likewise send to newspapers.


Indeed, an entire “public service announcement” (PSA) packet was crafted by the Advertising Council (often called the Ad Council), a nonprofit organization that produces, distributes, and promotes PSAs on behalf of nonprofit, nongovernment, and U.S. governmental organizations. Besides explanations of what the census was all about, this packet included advertisements promoting the census. Let’s take a look!


Why should you participate?  Your kids and young multicultural Wladyslaw Jones will have a better future because of the information collected:


Your Cute Baby!

Wladyslaw Jones


What do you do when the census taker comes? There were four suggestions listed here:


Confidentiality of the information is a top concern for many people. Several advertisements assured people their information was secure:


Farmers were told about the agricultural census. (Sorry, agricultural schedules are not extant!)


Finally, don't be a joker!  Be prepared - and answer directly and honestly. The enumerator has a big job to do in a short amount of time!


Want to see more?  Check out the entire PSA packet online.  It is [Folder 13] Advertising Campaign for the 1950 United States Census, 17th Decennial Census (National Archives Identifier 195980247) in the series Narrative Histories, Committee Minutes, and Procedural Manuals Primarily Relating to  the 17th Decennial Census (NAID 5634057) in Record Group 29, Records of the Bureau of the Census.