LIers use 1950 census to search for clues from their past
, 2022-08-26 19:32:53,
A Bellport man wanted information about his biological mother. A Jericho woman found out how much her grandfather earned in 1950. And an Amityville woman added to her knowledge of the lives of people of color on Long Island decades ago — but she lamented how a government document erased the Native American heritage of people such as herself.
They all used the 1950 census, released in its entirety this year, for their excavations of family histories.
Usually about a year after the once-a-decade census is taken, the U.S. Census Bureau releases information providing a statistical portrait of the nation down to its smallest communities. It reveals data such as population counts, race and ethnicity, age, and gender composition. “The census is the scaffolding on which you can start to build your family tree and make those family history discoveries,” said Crista Cowan, corporate genealogist for Ancestry, the genealogy company.
What is not known for decades, though, is how individuals — by name — answered the census questionnaire given to Americans every 10 years since 1790. That includes where they lived, who they lived with, and what they did for a living. Those answers are confidential for 72 years. But when that confidentiality period ends — as it did on April 1 of this year when the National Archives and Records Administration released the 1950 census — historians and everyday Americans started digging.
Here are the stories of three Long…
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