NARA’s 1950 Census Genealogy Series Begins March 2, 2022

NARA’s 2022 Genealogy Series begins March 2, 2022, and it focuses on the 1950 census:

  • March 2: Overview of What’s on the 1950 Census
  • March 16: Mapping the 1950 Census: Census Enumeration District Maps at the National Archives
  • March 30: The 1950 Census Website: Design, Development, and Features to Expect
  • April 27: The Story of the 1950 Census Form P8, Indian Reservation Schedule
  • May 11: From Parchments to Printouts: History of the Census from 1790 to 1950
  • May 18: History of Census Records at the National Archives
  • May 25: Historic Census Bureau Sources for Filipino, Guamanian and Chamorro, American Samoan, and Native Hawaiian Research

You’ll definitely want to watch NARA staffer Michael Knight’s March 30 program on the 1950 Census website — which will allow — on Day 1 — name searches AND allow users to help NARA improve this “first draft” name index.

Additional lectures may be scheduled – so check back at https://www.archives.gov/calendar/genealogy-series/2022.

All lectures premiere at 1 p.m. Eastern time – and remain online afterwards on NARA’s Youtube Channel. See you at the program!

Recent Discussions on U.S. Civil War Records

Civil War Talk Radio with Gerald Prokopowicz recently had two informative episodes that featured guests with connections to the National Archives.

On 23 February 2022, archives specialist Jackie Budell discussed Civil War widows’ pension files, photographic materials in pension files, research at the National Archives, and related subjects.

On 2 February 2022, retired senior military archivist DeAnne Blanton discussed the origins of the Society for Women and the Civil War, of which she served as first president, and her book, They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the Civil War, on the 20th anniversary of its publication.

These and all other Civil War Talk Radio shows remain available for listening at Impediments of War.

NARA 1950 Census Webpages Now Online

This week the National Archives launched several webpages devoted to the 1950 census, including the main page, 1950 Census Records, at https://www.archives.gov/research/census/1950. Information on these pages will undoubtedly evolve over time. The supporting informational pages include:

As noted on 1950 Census Records, you will be able to search the 1950 Census website by name and location beginning on Day 1 — April 1, 2022. To develop the initial name index, NARA used Amazon Web Services’ artificial intelligence / optical character recognition (AI/OCR) Textract tool to extract the handwritten names from the digitized 1950 Census population schedules. Because the initial name index is built on optical character recognition (OCR) technology, it will not be 100-percent accurate. The National Archives is asking for your help in submitting name updates to the index using a transcription tool that will be available on the 1950 Census website. You can help us improve the accuracy of the name index and make the records more accessible for everyone. More information on this volunteer opportunity will be forthcoming.

Researchers can learn more about this census from the 1950 Census blog posts at the History Hub and watch for news at National Archives News.

Tintypes and Photos in Civil War Pension Files

If you’ve ever wondered why some U.S. Civil War pension files have tintypes and photos – wonder no more! NARA archives specialist Jackie Budell details the reasons in three excellent recent blog posts at The Text Message:

(1) Civil War-Era Personal Tintypes Exposed: Your Questions Answered

(2) Civil War-Era Personal Tintypes Exposed: Why Private William Carman Sent a Tintype to His Wife

(3) Civil War-Era Personal Tintypes Exposed: Why William Carman’s Tintype Was in His Widow’s Pension File

Exciting 1950 Census News from NARA

When the 1950 Census becomes available on a NARA website on April 1, 2022, there will be a name search function powered by an Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology tool. Granted, it will be imperfect on opening day – but that just means that all of us will have the opportunity to make it better through a transcription tool that will also be available. Exciting times! Read more about it at 1950 Census Release Will Offer Enhanced Digital Access, Public Collaboration Opportunity, a December 14, 2021 press release.

An 1890 Census Fragment for Alaska is Rediscovered and Digitized

The National Archives recently digitized a previously unappreciated fragment of the 1890 census that contains information about 13 families in Alaska. This piece of the (mostly) destroyed 1890 census has essentially been “hiding in plain sight” since the National Archives published the Preliminary Inventory for Record Group 29, Records of the Bureau of the Census, in 1964. You can read more about it in “An 1890 Census Fragment for Alaska is Rediscovered.” Digital images are in the National Archives Catalog as “Logbook of Frank Lowell, Special Agent, Alaska District No. 2, 1890 Census” (National Archives Identifier 202288465).

A Horse, of Course!

From colonial times to the early 20th century horses were the primary means of transporting the mail, whether by a single rider on horseback or by wagon or stage coach pulled by a team. Certainly mail was also transported by railroad as as the network of “iron horses” developed, as well as by river- and ocean-going vessels.

The image below is a detail from a poor quality photo postcard from circa 1916. There are two men on horseback. The man on the right is identified as W. H. Bennett of McKee, Kentucky, whose age (in 1959) was 87 years. His horse has two mailbags, one on each side to distribute the burden. The other man is not identified. There are trees and other vegetation behind them but no buildings are visible.

Mail carrier on horseback about 1916. W. H. Bennett, McKee, Kentucky, age 87 in 1959, and an unidentified man from [76] Transportation of Mail – Saddle Bags” (NAID 204376381).

This postcard was privately printed. It is in the U.S. National Archives by an accident of history. On 11 August 1959, Postmaster D. N. Thomas of McKeesville forwarded the postcard along with two leather saddlebags to the Post Office in Cincinnati, Ohio, as “Items for a Postal Museum.” The mailbags were “not desired” and thus were “left in Cincinnati.” The postcard, however, ended up in a collection of “Exhibit Materials Relating to Postal History, 1905-1958” (National Archives Identifier 17027514) assembled by the Post Office Department Library that was subsequently accessioned into the National Archives.

National Archives Catalog Email Newsletters

The staff of the National Archives Catalog has a bimonthly newsletter to which anyone can subscribe; a pop-up invitation appears just about every time you visit the basic Catalog search page at https://catalog.archives.gov.

Recent past issues of the newsletter are archived here: https://us11.campaign-archive.com/home/?u=bfeaf03e7b0b1636c0b375892&id=921cecd7dd.