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Patience, grasshopper… patience!!

No, it isn’t fully indexed.

No, it isn’t searchable in every field.

No, the descriptions of the enumeration districts aren’t down to the street level in every case.1

Yes, it’s often necessary to review the entries line by line page by page.

Yes, it’s often necessary to do that in more than one enumeration district to find the people we’re looking for.

And no, even when we do everything we can think of, we’re not going to be able to find everybody we want to find right this minute in the online images of the 1950 census.

The Legal Genealogist‘s old-fart response to all of the above?


no complaints graphic

Just stop complaining.


The census release was less than four days ago.2 And let’s see here:

• The National Archives’ 1950 website has been up, fully accessible, and stable since it launched. That was not something we could have said 10 years ago when the 1940 census was launched.

• The NARA website has a rudimentary name index created by machine — something that did not exist when the 1940 census was released.

• The NARA index works reasonably well in some cases, particularly where census entries were printed. Where it’s off, or an entry wasn’t indexed, any user can help improve the index by corrections.

• All of the other major data sites — including Ancestry, FamilySearch, and MyHeritage — have all of the 1950 census images accessible online already.3 We couldn’t say that in 2012, when the 1940 census was available either.

• Indexing on other sites is underway, Indexing didn’t start nearly this early 10 years ago.

• The start point for indexing this time, particularly with the collaboration between Ancestry and FamilySearch through the 1950 US Census Community Project,4 is a machine index — which means it’ll be a lot faster to complete, since indexers will only need to correct entries that are wrong, not index every single letter and word on every entry.

In short, the whole release this time around is soooooooooo much better than it was a decade ago.

What’s lacking isn’t in the census release.

What’s lacking is in us.

We need to have some patience here.

What we’re getting is better, faster, and more useful in every respect than it was 10 years ago.

But we appear to have forgotten just what it was like 10 years ago.

Or — gasp — 10 years before that when getting it online would have seemed like a miracle.

So… deep breath time, okay?

All the things we want from the census, including every-field searching, will be available.

Just not yet.

Bottom line here: patience, grasshopper. Patience.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Kwitcherbitchin,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 4 Apr 2022).


  1. Those down-to-the-street-level descriptions may well be available on Steve Morse’s One-Step Pages, however. Use the Streets in the ED option once a range of enumeration districts has been identified in the Unified 1950 Census ED Finder.
  2. See “Public Can Access Census Records 72 Years After Each Decennial Census,” posted 1 April 2022, U.S. Census Bureau ( : accessed 4 Apr 2022).
  3. Go ahead. Check it out.
  4. For more information, see “1950 U.S. Census Community Project,” FamilySearch ( : accessed 4 Apr 2022).
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