On April 1, the 1950 Census release includes name index. The good news comes from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). No fooling, despite the date!

As I announced in my February newsletter, NARA created a name index using artificial intelligence (AI) and optical handwriting recognition. This is a BIG advance on census usability for genealogists.

About the 1950 Index

A 1950 Census Bureau employee

A Census Bureau employee enters data onto punch cards from the handwritten forms. Screenshot from “The Big Count,” a Census Bureau training film. (National Archives Catalog 178688266)

A National Archives staff member states, “The National Archives developed a transcription tool to enable users to submit name updates [to the AI index]. This will allow other users to find specific names more easily, and it provides an opportunity for the public to help the agency share these records with the world.”

“’The OCR being used to transcribe the handwritten names from the census rolls is about as good as the human eye,’” said Project Management Director Rodney Payne. “Some of the pages are legible, and others are difficult to decipher.”

Because the initial name index is built on optical character recognition (OCR) technology, it will contain errors. National Archives officials are providing genealogists with a transcription tool to update and correct this index.

NARA Video on the 1950 Census Release

What’s New in the 1950 Census Release

1950 Census release will include for the first time:

Census Bureau Public Service Announcements from 1950

Getting Started with the 1950 Census