1950 Census -- how was information on "Race" gathered?

I ask this because I'm curious about a change in response. In the 1930 and then 1940 census, my grandparents are marked as "white" even as they give their origin as the British West Indies. However in the 1950 census, they (and their children) are marked as "negro". Would this mean that they themselves gave that different answer, or would the census taker have made that decision/mark that down on their own?

Parents
  • The enumerators were **supposed to** follow their instructions from a booklet they were trained with.  You should look at those instructions for the racial category for the 1930 to 1950 census.  They are available online in a number of places.  For instance, I would use the IPUMS website and do an online search using for example: "ipums 1950 enumerator instructions" and then when you get to the instructions look at: Item 9. Race... and starting with paragraph 114.  

Reply
  • The enumerators were **supposed to** follow their instructions from a booklet they were trained with.  You should look at those instructions for the racial category for the 1930 to 1950 census.  They are available online in a number of places.  For instance, I would use the IPUMS website and do an online search using for example: "ipums 1950 enumerator instructions" and then when you get to the instructions look at: Item 9. Race... and starting with paragraph 114.  

Children