The 1950 census data are published, a treasure for genealogists.
And there, listed as the head of the family, was his father, Anthony P. Ferriero, then 40, an auto mechanic who, according to the census, had worked 64 hours the previous week at a local garage.
There were also his mother, Marie, 32, his brother, Anthony C., 11, his sisters, Marie A., 9, and Kathleen, 2, and David, 4, himself, who now 76 years old. was the first census in which he appeared, he said in a blog post on Friday.
Ferriero was among thousands of Americans who began searching the 6.4 million digitized pages of personal records from the 1950 census released by the Archives at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
The data, which had been kept secret to protect privacy for 72 years, was a treasure trove for genealogists.
“I haven’t fallen asleep yet,” Stephen P. Morse, an amateur genealogist and computer expert in San Francisco, said Friday afternoon. “I’ve been up all night.”
On Saturday April 1, 1950, an army of 140,000 enumerators had begun to cross the country to interview the approximately 151 million inhabitants of 46 million households.
The data they collected includes names, ages, addresses and answers to questions they asked about employment status, job description and income.
Women were asked, if they were married, how many children they had had. People were asked where they worked, where their parents were born, how much money they earned and how much money the parents at home have earned.
Next to the Ferrieros on Walnut Avenue were the Gardners, Norman, 43, his wife, Norma, 46, and their son, David, 16. Norman was a meter technician at a shoe machine factory, the census enumerator reported.
Elsewhere on Walnut Avenue were Gertrude Shattuck, 39, a secretary for an auto insurance company, Charles H. Perkins, 63, a factory order clerk, and Oswald Evitts, 64, a power plant machinist.
They were all part of the giant national snapshot.
And with Ferriero, about 26 million Americans living in the country in 1950 are still alive.
Morse, the genealogist, said he found his family in the data around 3 a.m. Friday. They were in a second-floor back apartment at 85 Newport Street in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn. His father, Morris, was an accountant.
“I really wanted to find this because it’s the only census where my whole family, the whole grouping, is together,” he said. “My mother, my father, my sister, myself and my grandmother.”
“It was exciting,” he said. “A beautiful thing to put in my genealogy album.”
Now 81, he was 9 when the census taker visited in 1950.
The 1950 census was the 17th in the country. It takes place every 10 years since 1790, by decree of the Constitution.
Enumerators were sent to visit people wherever they lived or stayed – homes, apartments, hotels, Indian reservations, boats, tents and railroad cars.
Native Americans on reservations were asked on a separate form if they were “full blood, half full, quarter half, less than ¼”. They were also asked if, in 1949, they had participated in or attended “native Indian ceremonies”.
“What a lot of people don’t know is that the census is especially important to Indian tribes,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a member of the Pueblo de Laguna tribe, said in one of the announcements. pre-recorded tapes that helped launch the release.
“Because it helps decide federal funding, which then impacts the government’s accountability to Indigenous communities,” she said.
Alvin Thornton, 73, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, had seen the 1870 census, which recorded his great-grandparents, who were born into slavery.
He was reunited with his grandmother and his mother and father during later investigations. But Friday was the first day that Thornton, professor emeritus and former chair of Howard University’s political science department, was able to find himself.
On April 1, 1950, he was 1.5 years old, the youngest of seven children living in a four-room clapboard house in Rock Mills, Alabama.
“A typical, rural house, what we call a sharecropper’s house,” he said of the structure, which belonged to a white owner who also owned the land and equipment his father used to farm. the cotton. “The house certainly wouldn’t have had running water inside, no toilets inside, or anything like that.”
Three years later, when his father got a job at a cotton mill, his family moved out, and in 1971 Thornton moved to the Washington area.
He was online on Friday, looking for the form that would have listed himself and his older siblings (three others were born who will not appear until the 1960 census), and his wife. “I started searching, and my search engine isn’t picking me up right now,” he said.
Eventually, he said, he ended up with his family in the archives.
Hamil R. Harris contributed to this report.