NARA released the 1950 population census schedules for researcher use on April 1, 2022, at  This is the 55th in a series of blog posts on the 1950 census.

What Exists?

Surviving 1950 census records include overseas U.S. military and civilian personnel outside the Continental United States at these locations:

  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • American Samoa
  • Canton [Kanton] Island
  • Guam
  • Johnston Island
  • Midway Island
  • Panama Canal Zone
  • Puerto Rico
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Wake Island

What is the Backstory?

For the taking of the 1950 census, the Census Bureau entered into cooperative agreements with the U.S. Departments of Defense and State, and the Maritime Administration, to provide information on American personnel and dependents under their authority.  The U.S. Attorney General issued an opinion in 1949 that approved the legality of the Census Bureau’s plans for enumerating Americans overseas but not including them in the total population figures for any state or in the total population of the continental United States. The Form P5, Overseas Census Report, that was used for these persons did not ask for a current or previous U.S. address.  Thus, none of the data obtained on Americans overseas was transcribed by Census Bureau employees onto the standard Form P1, 1950 Census of Population and Housing, for U.S. enumeration districts where the individuals previously resided.  Such information was therefore been collected for informational or statistical purposes only.  In Paragraphs 77i and 77j of their instructions, enumerators in the United States were told:

77i.  Do not enumerate persons working abroad for the United States Government if their regular place of duty is abroad.  Such persons will be enumerated under special procedures.

   However, you must enumerate as a resident of your ED any person who usually lives there if he is temporarily abroad on a vacation or in connection with his work.  A United States Government employee temporarily abroad in connection with his work should be enumerated at his usual place of residence in your ED unless his regular place of duty is abroad.

77j.  Do not enumerate soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen not now living in your ED.  Household members who are absent on military service should not be enumerated.  (For more information, see Urban and Rural Enumerator's Reference Manual, 1950 Census of the United States, p. 24).

The National Archives and and Records Administration (NARA) received on microfilm census schedules for the continental United States, the territories of Alaska and Hawaii, and the overseas possessions of American Samoa, Guam, Panama Canal Zone, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands.  This microfilm has been digitized and the digital images are available at

In addition, paper census schedules exist (and have been digitized) for Canton [Kanton], Johnston, Midway, and Wake Islands that include U.S. military personnel and civilian contractors and their dependents.  These records were retained by the Census Bureau’s Field Division among administrative records in the series, “Records Relating to the 1950 Decennial Census of Territories, 1948–1951” (NAID 5550637) relating to the taking of the census in U.S. territories and possessions. These census schedules have been digitized and and the digital images are available at

In addition, the name and rank of a few U.S. military personnel overseas are included in correspondence in “Binder 36-C – Members of Armed Forces and U.S. Citizens Abroad” (NAID 205683289), which has also been digitized and available at

Instructions concerning officers and crews of U.S.-flag (U.S.-registered) commercial vessels were substantially the same as 1940, and census schedules with vessel crew members are likely found in an enumeration district in either the vessel’s U.S. home port or the U.S. port where the vessel was on April 1, 1950, the official census day.

No other records of Americans overseas are part of the 1950 census.