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Those in the 1950 census

There is a level of excitement generally among the genealogical community about an event that’s been 72 years in the making.

On 1 April, for the first time in 72 years, Americans will be able to see the enumerations from the 1950 census.

part of 1950 census questionnaire

And in so many ways it will be so sweet.

The very youngest of The Legal Genealogist‘s aunts should make her first appearance in that census.

Both of my older siblings should make their first appearances there as well.

Two of my older cousins, daughters of my mother’s oldest sister Cladyne, should be recorded for the first time too.

More distant cousins who are now friends and fellow researchers should also be found for the first time in that census.

And — assuming that the enumerators actually found each of these families and accurately recorded each of these then-children — every one of those finds on that census will be sweet indeed.

I want to see exactly where my parents and maternal grandparents were living as of the enumeration date of that census, 1 April 1950. That was a year of huge changes for my family as my grandparents ended up in Virginia after living most of their lives in Texas, and that may have been the year my parents moved from Golden, Colorado, to Arapahoe, when my father changed jobs and started working for an oil company.

At least four of my mother’s siblings were out of the family home, making their own ways somewhere in the world, and at least for those who weren’t gallivanting around the world in the military, I should be able to find them somewhere on that census as well.

But the very fact that I need the census to find out where they were living is part of the bittersweet.

So many of the people I will be looking for in that 1950 census are not alive today; I can’t ask them where they were living then — or any of the hundreds of other questions I wish I had thought to ask years ago. Both of my parents are long gone — my father in 1994, my mother in 1999. Both of my mother’s parents are long gone as well — my grandfather in 1970, my grandmother in 1995. All four of those “where were they in 1950” aunts and uncles — gone today: Monte in 2004, Billy in 2008, Cladyne in 2009, David in 2019.

Not being able to doublecheck the information I have…

Not being able to share what I might find…

Yes, that’s bittersweet for sure.

And even more bittersweet is the fact that there are those close kin to me who were recorded in the 1940 census, but won’t be found at all in 1950. Both of my father’s parents died in the years between those censuses, before I was even born: my paternal grandfather in 1945, my paternal grandmother in 1947.

In the end, I’m sure, the sweet will outweight the bittersweet. If nothing else tips the scale, just the level of excitement of my older sister, Diana, will do it. The fact that she will be starting yet another spin around the sun tomorrow — and began the first of those journeys before 1950 (I won’t say exactly when, but I will wish her a very very happy birthday tomorrow!) — should earn her a place in those records.

But a census, any census, always carries that bittersweet along with the sweet.

As we will all find out, in just 19 more days.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “The sweet and the bittersweet,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 12 Mar 2022).

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