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 12th in a series of blog posts on the 1950 census.


In this post we take our first look, in detail, of the P1, Population and Housing Schedule, that was used in most of the United States.  Each enumerator had to fill in the “heading” section at the top of the page with information common to all people on the page.

Heading section, Form P1, Population and Housing Schedule, 1950 Census, USA


“Item a” was for the state, territory (such as Alaska or Hawaii), or District (such as the District of Columbia).

"Item a" - Form P1, Population and Housing Schedule, 1950 Census, USA


“Item b” was for the “County” or its equivalent, such as Parish (Louisiana); Independent City (Baltimore, various cities in Virginia, and probably others); District (such as in Alaska); or Municipality (Puerto Rico).  If the “independent city” was not part of a county, the enumerator was to write city after it, such as Baltimore City (Maryland) or Fairfax City (Virginia) that would distinguish it from like-named “county-level” jurisdictions in the same state.

"Item b" - Form P1, Population and Housing Schedule, 1950 Census, USA

“Item c” was for the next political level, which the Bureau preferred to call “minor civil division.”  The enumerator was to write in the name of the incorporated place or township.  The enumerator was to specify the appropriate term, such as Willoughby Village or Willoughby Township (Ohio) to avoid confusion over multiple types of civil divisions with the same name.

"Item c" - Form P1, Population and Housing Schedule, 1950 Census, USA

“Item d” was for the assigned Enumeration District (ED) Number.  As with the 1930 and 1940 censuses, the ED number was a two-part number consisting of a prefix and a suffix.  The prefix was for the county or its equivalent.  These numbers were assigned sequentially to match the alphabetical order of the counties (or equivalent) with independent cities (usually) following numerically and alphabetically after the last county.  The suffix was for a specified area within the county or equivalent that could be enumerated within two weeks in cities or within four weeks in rural areas.

"Item d" - Form P1, Population and Housing Schedule, 1950 Census, USA


Thus, Autauga County, which was alphabetically the first county in Alabama, had a prefix of 1, and Precinct 1, Prattville, consisted of several EDs numbered 1-1 to 1-12, some of which would be further specified in “Item c” as Prattmont town, Prattville City, or simply Precinct 1, Prattville, as appropriate.

Selected enumeration district descriptions, Autauga County, Alabama.Selected Enumeration Districts (ED) of Autauga County, Alabama (NAID 200336336).


“Item e” was for “Hotel, large rooming house, institution, military installation, etc.”  The enumerator was to write in the full name of the establishment.  In the space provided for “type” of institution, the enumerator was to “enter the kind of place” such as hotel, WMCA, Army camp, and so forth.  The enumerator instructions provided more than a full page worth of examples of correctional and penal institutions, mental institutions, homes for the aged and needy, homes and hospitals for the chronically ill or handicapped, and other special types of living quarters such as nurses’ homes; convents and monasteries; dormitories or similar lodging for workers, college students, and students below college level; crews on inland vessels; military installations; general hospitals; residential clubs and large lodging houses; hotels, missions, and flophouses; YMCA, YWCA, and the like; and summer camps, tent camps, trailer camps, and similar tourist lodgings.  For each of these places, the enumerator was to also enter the line numbers used on that schedule for persons enumerated at those places.  Thus, this item would only to apply to persons on specified lines on the sheet, not necessarily the entire page.

"Item e" - Form P1, Population and Housing Schedule, 1950 Census, USA


“Item f” was for the date the enumerator started to write individuals’ information on this sheet.  This indicates the date the enumerator visited the households on this page, but remember that the information was supposed to be accurate as of the official census day, April 1, not the date the enumerator visited the household.  It is possible that an enumerator began a sheet on one day and continued writing on it the next, so look for any annotations that suggest that was the case.

"Item f" - Form P1, Population and Housing Schedule, 1950 Census, USA


“Item g” was for the enumerator’s signature. The instructions were very clear:  “The enumerator must sign his name in the space provided in the heading when he fills the heading of the schedule.”  There were many women enumerators, so “he” and “his” in the instructions were intended to include “she” and “her.”

"Item g" - Form P1, Population and Housing Schedule, 1950 Census, USA


“Item h” was “Checked by.”  The enumerator’s Crew Leader was to “sign his name here on completed schedules that he has reviewed” as well as indicate the date of that review.

"Item h" - Form P1, Population and Housing Schedule, 1950 Census, USA


In the box for “Sheet Number” the enumerator was to number the sheets of the Form P1 serially (in order) beginning with “1” (one).  However, sheets for persons enumerated out of order were to be on sheets beginning with the number “71.”  Therefore, if a person is on a sheet numbered 71 or higher, the researcher will know that person was enumerated out of order for some reason that may be indicated on those sheets, or deduced from header information.

Box for Sheet Number - Form P1, Population and Housing Schedule, 1950 Census, USA


In future weeks, we'll take a look at the rest of the Form P1, Population and Housing Schedule.


Adapted from Urban and Rural Enumerator's Reference Manual, 1950 Census of the United States, pages 27-29.