Here is a guide to using the recently released 1950 individual census records for Austell, Georgia. These records are useful in both genealogy and historical research to determine where individuals lived in 1950 and with whom they lived.
Those of you who do genealogy or local history research are probably familiar with the individual census records. They are reproductions of the handwritten sheets made when the census was first taken for a particular person.
In a previous Cobb by the Numbers we covered the publication of the complete individual records for the 1950 decennial census. Under federal law, detailed census records for individual households cannot be released until 72 years after the census. The detailed records are the handwritten standardized forms familiar to genealogists and historians.
Now let’s focus on how to get the records for each part of the county. This article is primarily intended to allow readers to take a closer look at what Austell looked like at the time of this census and provide guidance on finding family members or other individuals being researched, rather than providing an in-depth statistical or demographic analysis of the area.
Here is an image of the 1950 Austell census map (I’ll show you how to get an interactive version of the map later in this article):
The county was divided into census tracts by the US Census Bureau. To look at the records of all areas considered Austell on today’s maps, you need to look at Districts 58, 59, 60, and 65.
An explanation of how to get to these census districts is reprinted below from our earlier article.
How to access the 1950 census records
To access the records, you can go to the National Archives search page by following this link, then click the “Start Search” button and select “Georgia” and “Cobb County” under the state and county on the left pull down.
Or faster, you can go to the search I already did via this link there.
Cobb was divided into 67 census tracts in 1950, so you are presented with a screen that looks like this:
At this point, unless you’re familiar with historical geographies like Militia Districts, you might have to do a little digging to find the area you’re looking for. So when you click the ED Maps button, you get an interactive map that’s helpful for finding what you’re looking for.
But for a simple example, let’s imagine I’m doing research in the Clarkdale Mill District near Austell. I scrolled down, clicked on “Population Plans” and came to this screen:
You can also view a census district map to ensure that when you search for a person, you are not outside the boundaries of where that person lives.
You’ll have to use your mouse or keyboard commands to pan around the map and zoom in or out, but here’s what I have for the Clarkdale area.
How to use these records to get a more complete picture of Austell in 1950
Finding the records is just a first step. The Census Bureau enlists volunteers to transcribe the records for different areas so the records are searchable and easier to read. To learn how you can help with this project, follow this link.
In addition, the Cobb Public Library is in the process of digitizing its collection of city directories, including those that covered Austell. When that is done, matching census records with addresses and owners of businesses in the city in city directories organized by name and street could paint another picture of Austell as it existed in 1950.