The census tells us who we are and where we are going as a nation. The census helps our communities determine where to build everything from schools to supermarkets, and from homes to hospitals. It helps the government decide how to distribute funds and assistance to states and localities. It is also used to draw the lines of legislative districts and reapportion the seats each State holds in Congress.
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As in 1930 and 1940, the 1950 Census was conducted according to the terms of the Fifteenth Census Act. The enumeration began on April 1, 1950, with 90 percent of the population having been enumerated by the end of the month (weather delayed enumeration in some areas until mid-May). All but 1 percent of the population had been enumerated by the end of June 1950.
The 1950 census encompassed the continental United States, the Territories of Alaska and Hawaii, American Samoa, the Canal Zone, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands of the United States, and some of the smaller islands and island groups within the United States’ possession.1 The census also made special provisions for the enumeration of American citizens living abroad (and their dependents), including the armed forces of the United States, employees of the United States Government, and the crews of vessels in the American Merchant Marine at sea or in foreign ports.
The census of Americans living abroad was attempted through cooperative arrangements with the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the United States Maritime Administration, and other federal agencies concerned. These agencies took the responsibility for the distribution and collection of specially designed census questionnaires for individuals and households. Other persons living abroad were to be reported by their families or neighbors in the United States; however, the quality of these data was considered suspect and they were not included in the published statistics.
Procedures to improve coverage. Several aids were employed to improve the completeness of the 1950 Census coverage. The most prominent were as follows:
Following these procedures improved the coverage of the 1950 census over that of the 1940census.2 (The components of population change were probably estimated more accurately during the 1940s than for the 1930s because not all states were consistently registering births and deaths until 1933.)
Post-Enumeration Survey. The 1950 census was further checked using a post-enumeration survey, in which a re-enumeration, on a sample basis, was conducted. The Census Bureau recanvassed a probability sample of about 3,500 small areas and compared these to the original census listings to identify households omitted from the enumeration. In addition to the check for omitted households, a sample of about 22,000 households was reinterviewed to determine the number of persons omitted in cases where the household had been included.
The Post-Enumeration Survey interviewers were given intensive training and supervision. Efforts were made to limit respondents to the person who was presumably best informed regarding the information desired, i.e., the person themselves. These precautions resulted in an expense per case in the Post-Enumeration Survey many times that of the original enumeration, and affordable only on a sample-basis.
1950 Census of Population: Volume 1. Number of Inhabitants
Statistics for States, counties & minor civil divisions, and for cities and other places, for wards of cities 5,000 inhabitants or more, & for urbanized areas.
1950 Census of Population: Volume 2. Characteristics of the Population
Statistics on the size, distribution, and characteristics of the population of the U.S. Some summary data for States, Territories, possessions, etc.
1950 Census of Population: Volume 3. Census Tract Statistics
Statistics for 64 tracted cities and adjacent areas, in the U.S. This special binding is in four parts, with the tracted areas arranged alphabetically.
1950 Census of Population: Population of (specified State)
Advance release of final population counts for selected areas in each State: urban and rural, counties, all incorporated places, minor civil divisions, etc.
1950 Census of Population: Population of Selected Counties and Places
Preliminary population counts showing the number of persons enumerated in each county or incorporated place. These are not the final verified population totals.
1950 Census of Population: Population of (State) by Counties
Preliminary population counts for number of persons enumerated in each State, each county, & incorporated place, but not the final verified population totals.
1950 Census of Population: Population of (Various Areas)
Preliminary population counts for number of persons enumerated in Congressional Districts, SMAs, Urban, Rural, and other areas.
1950 Census of Population: Population of the Territories & Possessions
Preliminary population counts showing the number of persons enumerated in each territory or possession. These are not the final verified population totals.
1950 Census of Population: Population of 57 Standard Metropolitan Area
Preliminary population counts of the 57 standard metropolitan areas with a population of 250,000 or more in 1940.
1950 Census of Population: Population of select States and Puerto Rico
Population characteristics on color, age, sex, employment, income, and educational attainment for the 10 largest States, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
1950 Census of Population: Characteristics of the Population
Preliminary population counts by color, age, sex, employment, income, and education for the U.S., regions, and standard metropolitan areas.
1950 Census: Procedural Study No. 1: Infant Enumeration Study
Statistics on infants born in the first three months of 1950 & on reasons for missing infants, by residence, race, birth month, age & education of mother, etc.
1950 Census of Housing: Volume 1. General Characteristics
Statistics on housing by many geographic areas. Part 1: U.S. Summary. Parts 2-6: States & the District of Columbia. Part 7: Alaska, Hawaii, etc.
1950 Census of Housing: Volume 2. Nonfarm Housing Characteristics
Part 1 contains the U.S. and nine divisions. Parts 2-5 cover the 152 standard metropolitan areas of 100,000 inhabitants or more, with selected cities.
1950 Census of Housing: Volume 3. Farm Housing Characteristics
Statistics include number of rooms, year built, condition & plumbing facilities, heating and cooking fuel, number of persons, sex & age of head, & 1949 income.
1950 Census of Housing: Volume 4. Residential Financing
Statistics on interrelationships of various characteristics of the property, owner and mortgage for the U.S., regions & 25 largest standard metropolitan areas.
1950 Census of Housing: Dwelling Units in (State): April 1, 1950
Preliminary counts of dwelling units (by counties and places of 5,000 inhabitants or more) based on tabulations made in the field.
1950 Census of Housing: Dwelling Units in (Territory or Possession)
Preliminary counts of dwelling units for Territories and possessions based on tabulations made in the field.
1950 Census of Housing: Housing Characteristics of (specified SMA)
Preliminary report on housing characteristics for the 57 standard metropolitan areas having a population of 250,500 or more.
1950 Census of Housing: Housing Characteristics of (specified Area)
Preliminary report on selected housing characteristics for the 10 States with the largest population in 1940, and for Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
1950 Census of Housing: Housing Characteristics (selected areas)
Preliminary report on selected housing characteristics for the United States, the Regions, and a summary of the 57 standard metropolitan areas.
1950 Census of Agriculture: Vol 1. Counties and State Economic Areas
Statistics for counties include number of farms, acreage, value, and farm operators; farms by size, by color and tenure of operator; etc.
1950 Census of Agriculture: Volume 2. General Report
Statistics on number, acreage, & value of farms; uses of land in farms; farm equipment and facilities; livestock and products; crops; etc.
1950 Census of Agriculture: Vol 3. Irrigation of Agricultural Lands
Statistics for counties and drainage basins and a summary for the U.S., including number of enterprises, irrigation works and equipment, source of water, etc.
1950 Census of Agriculture: Volume 4. Drainage of Agricultural Lands
The fourth census of drainage in the U.S. covers organized enterprises and private projects draining 500 acres or more of agricultural lands in 1950.
1950 Census of Agriculture: Volume 5. Special Reports
Ten parts include Horticultural Specialties, Multiple-Unit Operations, Ranking Agricultural Counties, five Graphic Summaries, Farm-Mortgage Debt, etc.