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 27th in a series of blog posts on the 1950 census.

 

The Bureau of the Census produced several training "filmstrips" to help instruct 1950 census enumerators in their duties.  Readers who were in school in the early 1970s or before may remember "filmstrips."  These consisted of a strip of film whose images were projected on a screen. A phonographic record or cassette tape provided the accompanying audio component of narration and/or music.  A periodic "beep" in the recording signaled that the filmstrip was to be advanced to the next image.

 

The first of these training filmstrips, Training Film No. 1, "The Big Count" (NAID 178688266) has recently been digitized and made available in the National Archives Catalog. 

1950 Census Training Film No. 1 - The Big Count - Title Image

Image:  Training Film No. 1, The Big Count (Title Frame)

 

Researchers can download individual filmstrip images, watch and listen to the entire recording (mp4 format), and download the entire recording (mp4 format).  To view the entire recording:

 

Images from the Big Count

 

  • Click on "Load All"

Load-All

  • Scroll down through the images a little bit more until you see the 41st image which looks like movie film

Big Count Movie

  • Click on the movie film image and the mp4 recording will launch.  Click on the forward arrow in the lower left corner of the image to begin playing it.

 

"The Big Count" begins with an unidentified narrator describing the purpose of the census and its components.  The individual housing and agricultural questionnaires mentioned in the narration no longer exist. Then, Acting Census Director Philip M. Hauser narrates and is pictured in numbered frames 34-38.  He emphasizes the importance of getting an accurate count.  Hauser notes that he himself was an enumerator during the 1930 census and knows that each enumerator will encounter difficulties, but will find it an "interesting and valuable experience" besides rendering an important public service. 

 

Philip M. Hauser, Acting Director of the Bureau of the Census

Image:  Acting Census Director Philip M. Hauser

 

Scripts (or possibly drafts of scripts) for some of the other training filmstrips have been digitized and are also available in the National Archives Catalog, as listed below.  (The "filmstrip number" indicated on these scripts may not match the final "number" given to the filmstrip by the Bureau of the Census.)

 

 

The scripts and filmstrips give insight into the training enumerators received and how they were expected to ask question and interact with the public.  We hope to digitize additional training filmstrips prior to April 1, 2022.