Month: March 2022

News from the Research Desk Blog

1950 Census Records Coming Soon!

After a 72 year waiting period, the personal records from the 1950 Census will be made available online to researchers by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on April 1, 2022. The records will also be available at the major genealogy online resources including, Family Search, and My Heritage. The National Archives’ 1950 Census page is now live and has a lot of information to help you prepare for the actual release of the records. NARA will be using Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the host for the digitized records. AWS is using optical character recognition (OCR) technology to digitally index the records. However, this indexing will not be 100% accurate so NARA is seeking volunteers to help submit name updates. and FamilySearch will also be using similar technology to create initial automated indexes. FamilySearch is asking for volunteer indexers as well. If you are interested in helping with this project, please go to their 1950 Census website.

You will also be able to search the 1950 Census by location. To do this you will need to know the Enumeration District (ED) number. The enumeration district was an area that could be canvassed by a census taker within a certain time period. It is possible to get an enumeration district number if you know a family’s address in 1950. Once you have an address you can go to the Unified 1950 Census ED Finder website prepared by Stephen Morse. At this site, you can enter the city, state, and county of the location you are seeking and add the address. You will be able to narrow the number of ED districts that appear by adding the cross streets of the location. Armed with the ED number you will be able to go to the 1950 Census records and just search in this enumeration district. This process is more time-consuming than searching by name but the option will be helpful especially if your family’s record does not appear using the name search function.

In 1950 the Mount Prospect area was more rural than it is today with a population of just 4,009. There were two enumeration districts covering this area. The portion of Mount Prospect which was in Elk Grove Township (south of Central Road) was in ED 16-257 and 16-258. The portion of the village in Wheeling Township (north of Central Road) was in ED 16-259. If you have relatives who lived in Mount Prospect then and whose records do not come up by the name search, you can look through the listings in these enumeration districts.

There are several videos on YouTube which discuss the 1950 Census and how to search it. One of them was prepared by Stephen Morse. In this video Morse discusses the 1950 Census and the location search process in depth.

If you would like some assistance in preparing for the release of these records or help searching the 1950 census once it is released, please contact genealogy librarian Anne Shaughnessy to set up a reference appointment.

1950 Census Enumeration District map showing Mount Prospect north of Central Road

DIY Research: Sources for Statistics

Whether you are writing a research paper or trying to better understand the news headlines, you may find yourself looking for statistical information on the internet. Not to be confused with “data,” statistics are the analysis and interpretation of numerical data. Whether you are looking for data and statistics, it is important to keep in mind that that context is important when looking at information defined in numerical terms.

magnifying glass showing the word research

The federal government has a great deal of statistical information. Depending on what kind of information you are looking for, here are a few sources to consider: 

Census information, accessed through, includes not only the demographic information collected in the 10 –year census, but also economic and social data collected in the yearly American Communities Survey. Small businesses can get census data tailored to support their research and planning through Census Business Builder. Use QuickFacts to find information about your local community. 

Health statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control can be found through the National Center for Health Statistics. Straightforward numbers on popular health topics are readily found through the Fast Stats feature. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is the source for key employment numbers (Employment, wages, union membership, productivity) and also other economic numbers, including the Consumer Price Index. Find statistics by searching by geographic area or by subject

The Statistical Abstract of the United States is a print reference available in the library at the Research Desk. Featuring over a thousand tables and charts from a variety of government sources, along with sources for even more detailed data, the Statistical Abstract is a helpful first stop for statistical information, especially if you are unsure where to start looking. 

Some websites compile publicly available data from government and private sources, both domestic and international, and present the information in readily available formats: 

Our World in Data 

With questions about accessing any of these resources, or for help in finding more sources for statistical information, please contact the Research Desk to request a reference appointment.