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Via Search | 1950 Census, I've found some ancestors in the newly released 1950 Census data. Yay! As usual, they are recorded in a Population Schedule P1 page.

As a good researcher, now I want to provide convenient links (URLs) to the source data from my notes. But when I click the "share" button just below the "Matched Name(s)", the link it provides specifies only the State, County, and Enumeration District. There are 45 pages for that ED, each with 30 lines of individuals, so that's not very helpful....

Is there another URL scheme that will lead to an unambiguous page at least, or ideally to a specific line on a page? If there is no way to link to the official census forms, does anyone else yet have all the pages up such that more specific URLs are possible? Or can we expect that in the future?

I note that there are instructions on downloading the data from Amazon S3 via the Amazon Command-Line-Interface (CLI) at 1950 Census Dataset on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Registry of Open Data | National Archives, but that is also quite inconvenient. I imagine that there are web interfaces that would work, but don't see any indicated.

Update: I've accepted shoover's very insightful answer for now, but I've also asked the question (with no response yet) of census experts at HistoryHub: How to get a URL linking directly to a specific... | History Hub, with no response yet. If either that, or the hopeful notes at jan-murphy's answer pan out, I'll try to keep up with the best answers.

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  • Do convenient URLs linking to official versions of such images exist for earlier censuses?
    – nealmcb
    Apr 4 at 19:30

3 Answers 3

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While there doesn't seem to be a way to link to a specific line on a page of the 1950 U.S. Census, it is not too hard to get a permanent link to the census page.

You should be careful about using URLs with specific regions such as "us-east-2". AWS uses geo-replication, so you may get a different region next time, or a region may fail and failover to another region.

To get a link to a page, pull down the hamburger menu at the top left of the page next to the city/state/ED label, select the (i) info icon, and click the manifest link:

1950 census page

That gets you a page of JSON that looks like this:

1950 census json

You'll want to isolate the record for the page you're interested in:

{
    "@id": "https://1950census.archives.gov/api/manifest?ed=99-179&state=TN/14",
    "@type": "sc:Canvas",
    "label": "p.14",
    "height": 5648,
    "width": 7380,
    "images":
    [
        {
            "@context": "http://iiif.io/api/presentation/2/context.json",
            "@id": "https://1950census.archives.gov/iiif/2/14",
            "@type": "oa:Annotation",
            "motivation": "sc:painting",
            "resource":
            {
                "@id": "https://1950census.archives.gov/iiif/2/1950census%2F43290879-Tennessee%2F43290879-Tennessee-038294%2F43290879-Tennessee-038294-0014.jpg/full/full/0/default.jpg",
                "@type": "dctypes:Image",
                "format": "image/jpeg",
                "service":
                {
                    "@context": "http://iiif.io/api/image/2/context.json",
                    "@id": "https://1950census.archives.gov/iiif/2/1950census%2F43290879-Tennessee%2F43290879-Tennessee-038294%2F43290879-Tennessee-038294-0014.jpg",
                    "profile": "http://iiif.io/api/image/2/level1.json"
                },
                "height": 5648,
                "width": 7380
            },
            "on": "https://1950census.archives.gov/iiif/2/14"
        }
    ]
}

And from that, you want .images[0].resource."@id" (if you're familiar with jquery, you can clean that up to make a real jq command):

https://1950census.archives.gov/iiif/2/1950census%2F43290879-Tennessee%2F43290879-Tennessee-038294%2F43290879-Tennessee-038294-0014.jpg/full/full/0/default.jpg

This isn't much prettier than the URL found by nealmcb, but this method has a couple of advantages:

  1. The process to get to the link is much faster.
  2. No wading through developer documentation.
  3. The link is already assembled for you.
  4. The URL is on the main 1950census server at the main archives.gov domain and not a fungible Amazon domain.
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  • Thank you, this is very promising, if still unwieldy. But the hamburger menu doesn't seem to work for population schedules below the first. And my id is spelled "nealmcb". (I'd edit it myself except for that pesky minimum of 6 characters changed....)
    – nealmcb
    Apr 4 at 18:24
  • To expand on my comment about UI failures, it works like you said if I am looking this sort of multi-page ED, where I get an ed search link. But not for this sort of name search where I get a scheduleId search link for the first search result, but just a big area saying "About this item" for the others.
    – nealmcb
    Apr 4 at 19:47
  • 1
    Sorry about the name! It was late. Apparently the author of the answer can make tiny edits, so I fixed it.
    – shoover
    Apr 4 at 21:31
  • About the name search, I found the image at a slightly different location in the json: .sequences[0].canvases[0].images[0].resource."@id", which looks like the other one with .sequences[0].canvases[0] prepended.
    – shoover
    Apr 4 at 21:35
  • I still see many cases where the hamburger menu is completely useless. Let me add a bit more of my experience. I'm using the lastest Chrome Version 100.0.4896.46 (Official Build) beta (64-bit). The first time I click on a hamburger menu in the name search, it works. But if I click on a different hit on that page for the associated Population Schedule, and go again to the hamburger menu, I just get a big useless "About this item" area - no way to click on an IIIF manifest at all. So a workaround is to reload the web page and go to the Population schedule page you are looking for. Sigh.
    – nealmcb
    Apr 6 at 1:27
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After fooling around for a while with the Amazon S3 documentation and the json data at 1950 Census Dataset on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Registry of Open Data | National Archives (e.g. for Tennessee at https://nara-1950-census.s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/metadata/json/tn.json)

I finally manually constructed a URL to a single 1950 census population schedule. E.g.

https://nara-1950-census.s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/1950census/43290879-Tennessee/43290879-Tennessee-038294/43290879-Tennessee-038294-0014.jpg

That is longer and more redundant than I'd like, and far more complicated for the researchers, but it does seem to be possible. Now I just have to tell people to grab that file, and look on a given line.

It should be a straightforward programming task now to automatically take a state, an ED number, and a page number (as distinct from a sheet number) and spit out a working URL. And the URL might even be permanent....

But why didn't the National Archives and Records Administration do that little task for us?

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Simple hacking of the URL showing in the image viewer only seems to show you the first page of any given ED. For example, a search for all EDs in Los Angeles resulted in a list of EDs. I chose 19-1 and got the following link:

https://1950census.archives.gov/search/?county=Los%20Angeles&ed=19-1&page=1&state=CA

But if you attempt to change the "page=1" in the URL to another page, it doesn't work. You just get a blank frame and have to go back to the page previously searched for in order to browse all the pages.

Pre-release day, the US National Archives' Know Your Records program released a 'sneak peak' at the website as part of NARA's Genealogy Series 2022.

At the end of the program, a 'contact us' address was given: webprogram@nara.gov. You could try submitting an email to that address. Direct your question to the presenter, Michael L. Knight (Web Branch Chief, Office of Innovation (Digital Engagement Division) National Archives at College Park, MD).

Perhaps if enough users ask for a means to share a specific sheet, that feature can be added to the website.

Another thing to consider is that the big genealogy sites such as FamilySearch, Ancestry, and MyHeritage are all hosting their own copies of the images. MyHeritage claims (via Twitter) to have all the images up already. Ancestry's browse-box was still not fully populated when I wrote this answer, but in an email (late evening PDT on Apr 5, 2022), Crista Cowan said "By late afternoon on Saturday Ancestry had all 6.9 million images uploaded to the site." Crista will be giving Weekly updates on the progress at Ancestry via Ancestry's YouTube Channel at 10 AM PDT / 1 PM EDT until the census is complete.

Once the indexes are completed on those sites, users will be able to cite their copies of the images.

Similarly, the 1950 Census has been added to the One-Step Web pages: Viewing Census Images for the 1950 Census in One Step but at the moment, many of the links go nowhere because FamilySearch and Ancestry don't have all the images loaded yet.

Presumably once FamilySearch loads all their images, we'll be able to cite a permanent or semi-permanent URL for the images.

I agree that it would have been far superior for NARA to give us a DOI for each page. I don't know why they didn't.


Update! See this discussion at HistoryHub: How do I link to the 1950 Census Search Results?

Claire Kluskens gives an example for Albert Einstein.

https://1950census.archives.gov/search/?county=Mercer&ed=11-76&name=albert&page=1&state=NJ

However, when I use that link, I don't get a single page with Albert's entry -- I get a set of pages with people named Albert. Einstein's happens to be on the first page in the results (Sheet 11, line 7.)

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