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 20th in a series of blog posts on the 1950 census.


Would you have applied to be a census enumerator in 1950 after reading the brochure, "A Message to Job Applicants"?  Let's review its contents:


Requirements and desired skills for applicants for 1950 census enumerator:

  • U.S. citizenship
  • High school education or equivalent
  • Understands written and spoken instructions
  • Writes neatly and legibly
  • Does simple arithmetic quickly and accurately
  • Talks easily with people and gains their cooperation and confidence
  • Has good judgment, patience, and understanding
  • Has the "combined qualities of a bookkeeper, salesman, and diplomat"


If selected for the job, the applicant will receive training in:

  • Interviewing people - including practice interview sessions
  • Asking census questions
  • Making entries on the forms
  • Reading a map


Applicants who successfully complete the training will: 

  • Act as a representative of the Federal Government
  • Collect, record, and transmit confidential information to the Federal Government
  • Take an oath not to reveal any of the information he (or she) obtains
  • Be assigned a specific area called an Enumeration District (E.D.)
  • Receive a map of the E.D. and enough questionnaire forms to do the job
  • Visit every place in the E.D. where someone might live
  • Make a record of everyone found in the E.D.
  • Make a record of the places people live in (housing)
  • Make a record of the crops and livestock (agriculture) in rural areas
  • Record the information received accurately and neatly on the forms provided according to instructions
  • Make more than one visit to a household if needed


Hours and Pay

  • An enumerator will receive a "daily wage" for each day of training time - to be received about 2 weeks after training is completed. Training would begin on Monday or Tuesday, March 27 or 28, 1950.
  • An enumerator typically works 8 hours a day, but not necessarily "9 to 5" in order to reach people in the E.D. during the evening or on weekends. Enumeration would begin on April 1, 1950. A city assignment could be completed in about two weeks.  Assignments in country (rural) areas might take an extra week or two.
  • An enumerator who finished early and did a satisfactory job might be given additional assignments.
  • An enumerator will receive an amount for each person, farm, or other unit of enumeration. A good worker can average $7.50 to $8.50 or more for a full day - to be received about three weeks after completing an E.D.


Accurate and complete work by 140,000 census enumerators working under 8,000 crew leaders out of 450 census "district" offices and 14 census "area" offices is critical for:

  • Apportionment of Representatives to Congress (and state and local legislative bodies)
  • Administration of federal, state, and local government programs
  • Planning of government and business projects
  • Solving housing and agricultural problems


Ready to apply?  Visit your Census District Office today!


Adapted from Binder 68-D, "Taking the 1950 Census - A Message to Job Applicants" (National Archives Identifier 206240454).


Taking the 1950 Census - A Message to Job Applicants