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 37th in a series of blog posts on the 1950 census.


Enumeration of persons living in locations under the control of other federal agencies required the Bureau of the Census to establish communication and cooperation with those agencies, partly out of courtesy, partly to ensure complete enumeration, and partly due to access restrictions for security reasons.


In 1950, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) had about 1,500 separate operational units, including vessels, lighthouses, lightships, and stations of various kinds.  This post describes the arrangements made with the USCG for the enumeration of its personnel.  Many U.S. Coast Guard establishments (including lighthouses) were designated as enumeration districts separate from the surrounding countryside, such as Alcatraz Light Station in California, shown in the photo below.


Alcatraz Light Station, California, which was California ED 38-5 in 1950, NAID 205573642


Commanding officers of USCG vessels would receive sufficient numbers of Form P4, Crews of Vessels Report (shown below), for their crew.  Forms for personnel who were on leave or absent on temporary additional duty would be filled out by the commanding officer as much as possible.  The commanding officer would then mail all the completed forms to the Chief of the Population, Bureau of the Census, Department of Commerce, Washington 25, DC.  Passengers (if any) on vessels would not be enumerated with special forms; they would be enumerated under standard 1950 census procedures (at their home address or under T-night procedures if away from home at a hotel).


Form P4, Crews of Vessels Report, front and reverse sides
Form P4, Crews of Vessels Report (front side)
Form P4, Crews of Vessels Report (reverse side)


USCG uniformed and civilian personnel residing in barracks, bachelor officer’s quarters, women’s officer’s quarters, and other “barrack-type” quarters in the continental U.S. would fill out a Form P2, Individual Census Report.  A Census Bureau representative would provide the commanding officer of these facilities sufficient numbers of forms before April 1.  The commanding officer would collect the forms and mail them to the Bureau of the Census.  However, uniformed and civilian USCG personnel who lived with their dependents at the facility would be visited by a “regular sworn Census representative.”  Personnel and their families who lived off base would be enumerated in the standard fashion by a regular census enumerator.


Personnel living at lighthouses and similar facilities would fill out Form P2, Individual Census Report.  Sufficient numbers of forms were sent to the facility and then, after they were completed, were to be mailed back to the Bureau of the Census by the officer in charge.


USCG personnel at consulates, Merchant Marine Details, Loran Transmitting Stations, and other overseas facilities would complete Form P5, Overseas Census Report, and the facility’s commanding officer would return them to the Census Bureau.  However, personnel attached to embassies and legations would be “enumerated by the State Department Enumeration System.”  No census forms for these overseas individuals were retained; therefore, they will not be part of the 1950 census release.  (See Census Enumeration of U.S. Civilians and Military Personnel Overseas, 1790–1950.)


The Census Bureau wanted Coast Guard facilities to have all the forms completed by their personnel by April 15, 1950, but crew lists for some unknown number of USCG vessels had not been received at the Census Bureau by July 3, 1950.


The USCG may also have assisted in conducting the 1950 census of Alaska in remote locations.  Navassa Island, Quita Sueno Bank, Roncador Cay, and Serrana Bank – which the Census Bureau believed were uninhabited – were all under the administration of the USCG.


When the 1950 census is released on April 1, 2022, researchers will find Form P2, Individual Census Report, and Form P4, Crews of Vessels Report, for persons residing at these special facilities.


The Census Bureau made similar arrangements with another federal agency that had vessels, the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, which had 17 ships and approximately 700 men that were expected to be stationed on April 1, 1950, at Norfolk, Virginia; Portland, Oregon; Saint Petersburg, Florida; Washington; San Francisco, California; and Seattle, Washington.


Information about the USCG’s and U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey’s cooperation with the Census Bureau are intermixed in three files: 


(1) “Binder 36-I – Light Ships, Light Houses, and Coast Guard” (NAID 205683295).  This file includes the USCG Standard Distribution List, October 1, 1949, that provides that mailing addresses for all of its “activities ashore and afloat.”


(2) “Binder 36-F – U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Ships” (NAID 205683292)


(3) "Binder 36-E - Penal Institutions" (NAID 205683291)