Genealogy Countdown

I have been counting down the days until spring – 19 if you are counting with me in the U.S. I am also counting down the days until April 1st. Why? The 1950 U.S. Census will be released.

A new release of census records only occurs every 10 years. These records are released for public research once 72 years have passed. Why 72 years? No one knows exactly why, but there is an assumption this was the average lifespan at the time the “72 Year Rule” was put into place.

This is the census taken prior to and closest to my birth. I am not 100% sure where my parents lived at that time. My dad may have been living in military quarters. This census will answer those questions. It will also tell me information about my grandparents. I have learned a great deal from old census records regarding my family. I am hopeful there will be more revealed in this census.

The last time the census was released, the website crashed the day after. That shows how many researchers are waiting on these records. The census records are scanned using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and only certain fields will be transcribed for indexes on the National Archives website. That’s where volunteers come in.

Websites like Ancestry and Family Search depend on volunteers (like me) to transcribe many fields so more data is searchable. I have transcribed many records in the past – school roles, marriage certificates, court records, wills, etc.

It is a great way to volunteer from home and give back to fellow researchers. Our history is convoluted. Research shows that clearly. And these are not just unknown people annotated on a piece of paper. This is my family and your family. Our ancestors who, like us, would like to be remembered.

Tick tock. It won’t be long now.

“I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.”