Genealogy Q&A: 1950 Census Enumeration District Maps

By David A. Fryxell Premium
Q. I know we’re years away from accessing 1950 census data, but is there a way to see the 1950 enumeration district maps now?

A. Enumeration districts (EDs)were administrative divisions of a county or township for the purpose of conducting the census. Before today’s online census indexes—and when the 1940 enumeration was first released in April 2012, but not yet indexed—you’d use the ED to identify the roll of census microfilm listing your ancestor’s household. Just as the underlying geography changed over the 10-year span between federal censuses, so too the EDs were redrawn.

Any 1950 ED maps probably won’t be put online until we get closer to the release of that census in 2022 (after the 72-year privacy period expires). Boundary descriptions of the 1950 EDs, but not the maps, are on National Archives microfilm publication T1224, which describes EDs for 1830 through 1890 and 1910 through 1950.
Local public and academic libraries may have 1950 ED maps, so it’s worth checking the catalogs of repositories in areas of interest. The University of Chicago library, for example, has six ED maps from the 1950 census.

You can see what genealogists have to look forward to when the 1950 census becomes public by viewing the forms at U.S. Census website. Like the 1940 census, the 1950 questionnaire included extra questions to be asked of only a sampling of households—it’s not too soon to start hoping your families were included.
From the September 2013 Family Tree Magazine