Explore Your Family History With the 1950 Census

I've always found it fascinating to learn the history of my family. Through conversations with older generations and research in databases, I've learned about my third-great-uncle who was a lighthouse keeper in Richmond, and about my grandmother's childhood on a turkey ranch in the valley that is now Lake Berryessa.

And there's exciting news in the genealogy world! On April 1 the National Archives, opens a new window released the data from the 1950 Census to the public. For the first time, they used artificial intelligence software to identify names, so you can immediately search your family to discover where they were living in 1950 instead of waiting months for each line to be reviewed and transcribed manually.

Some ideas to celebrate your family's history:

  • Ask an older relative to share stories about their life and family legends or write your own memories to share with younger generations. It's a great way to connect with family members, especially when unable to visit in person!
  • Revisit and label old photos with names and dates. Future family historians will thank you for clearly labeled photos!
  • Start a family tree. You can do this on paper, in a spreadsheet, or make a free account with Ancestry.com, opens a new window or a similar site. (Note that many of these sites have options for paid subscriptions, but usually the family tree builder is free.) Start with what you already know, then do research to learn more.
  • Use the library's databases to research your family! Once you've entered everything you know in your family tree, use Ancestry Library Edition and HeritageQuest to expand your tree and find documents showing where your ancestors may have lived. I used these databases to find my great grandfather's 1942 petition for U.S. Naturalization, pictured here!

What do you hope to learn about your family?

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