I Was There – The 1950 U.S. Census

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Click to see the 1959 and all US census forms

The other day I was thinking about when the next census would released – 2022.  I enjoyed finding my family and placing them in context in the 1940 Census. I thought that I know much of the information that would be asked on the 1950 Census.  Why wait?  I Googled a blank form for the 1950 Census. This is the first of a series based on all of the unpublished censuses – 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010. I was there!

The 1950 Census is the first one in which I make an appearance. I was three years old. We lived at 643 Union Street in Springfield, Massachusetts. This was the parsonage/ community house located next to the church.

albert_st.johnsMy father, Albert B. Cleage, was the “head” of the household.  He was 38 years old and had worked for 52 weeks as the pastor of St. John’s Congregational Church. I do not know how much he earned the previous year, but I’m sure it was on the low side of the $2,992 average wage. He was born in Indiana and both of his parents were born in the United States. He had completed at least 1 year of post degree college work.

My mother, Doris G. Cleage, was my father’s wife.  She was 27 years old and was born in Michigan.  Both of her parents were also born in the U.S.A.  She had completed four years of college and had not worked outside of the home the previous year. She had given birth to two springfield_ma_kidschildren, both of them still alive.  Three year old Kristin and one year old Pearl had both been born in Massachusetts. My parents had been married 6 years. Everybody in the house was identified as “Neg(ro)”.  My mother took education classes at Springfield College in 1950 but I’m not sure if it was before or after April, when the census was taken.

Some things that I know about my family at that time that aren’t listed include that we didn’t own a car and that my father hoped to eventually find a church in Detroit so they could move back home.  This happened the following year, 1951.

I have added two articles from April, 1950 concerning my parents activities and an entry from the 1951 Directory for Springfield, Mass.  Read more about our life on Union Street at – U is for Union Street. Read an overview of news and other happenings for the 1950s here American Cultural History 1950 – 1959.

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springfield_directory

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12 Responses to I Was There – The 1950 U.S. Census

  1. What a good idea Krostin. Won’t it be interesting, for you and/or others to see what variations there are as those 20th century censuses are released?

    • Kristin says:

      The thing I’m mainly having a problem with are the costs of utilities and what wages were. I think I’ve got the rest. I remember throwing out boxes of utility bills my mother had saved. Darn!

  2. Elena Herrada says:

    Dear Kristin;
    The article about “Mrs. Cleage to speak,” I saw in the Detroit Red Squad files. I remember reading it. Did you or any family member claim your father’s files? It was quite extensive, I recall.
    For those who did not receive their files, they are at the Burton Collection of the Detroit Main Library. I am a family historian, so your stories are precious to me.
    Elena

    • Kristin says:

      My father claimed them but we haven’t been able to find more than bits and pieces. A LOT of the papers from his office were thrown out after he died before anybody had a chance to look through them.

      My husband and I tried to get the files for the Black Conscience Library from the Burton Collection but were told we had to wait until 70 years had passed – crazy. They’ve got all our flyers and newsletters and of course the reports. He was able to get his personal files. They had nothing for me, except where I appear in my husband’s or father’s files.

  3. Tony says:

    I wonderful Resourse, although it does show how much remains “off record”.Also useful for innocient Brits like me who used to ,mistakenly ,believed that official segregation lived only in The Deep South

    • Kristin says:

      It was everywhere. Schools were segregated by housing patterns, which were segregated . We could vote. In Detroit theaters were segregated when my father was young but were not by the time he younger sisters were going to the show. Buses were not segregated. Jobs were better but not equal.

  4. Luckie says:

    What a powerful post on so many levels Kristin. This legacy will live in the deepest index of the search engines & archives from this day forward. Whether you’re here (Goddess willing!) or not to tell the CLEAGE story – it will be told, undisputed from a 1st person account. A piece of powerful genealogy you’ve produced here my friend!:)

  5. Joann says:

    Great idea and fantastic post. Who not to write your story but you. I think it’s someting that we all should do. Thanks for sharing.

  6. LindaRe says:

    We want to leave as much as we can so the next family researcher will have a lot to work with. Love the pictures in the header, the days of innocence for the children.

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