What the Heinleins Told the 1950 Census

When we last left the Heinleins (“What the Heinleins Told the 1940 Census”), a woman answering the door at 8777 Lookout Mountain – Leslyn Heinlein, presumably — had just finished telling the 1940 census taker a breathtaking raft of misinformation. Including that her name was Sigred, her husband’s was Richard, that the couple had been born in Germany, and they had a young son named Rolf.

Ten years have passed since then, and the archives of the 1950 U.S. Census were opened to the public on April 1. There’s a new Mrs. Heinlein – Virginia. The 8777 Lookout Mountain house in L.A. has been sold. They’re living in Colorado Springs. What did the Heinleins tell the census taker this time?

WHERE’S WALDO? (INC.) The 1950 census worksheets aren’t searchable by name — that will come in time after volunteers enter all the data. Right now, searches must be done geographically. You need to know the state and county where your subject lived in April 1950 to find the Enumeration District containing their record. Research is time-intensive even when you know exactly where your subjects are living. Which I thought I did. But I was wrong.

The Heinleins’ Colorado Springs address so indelibly etched in memory had appeared at the end of the notorious “Who are the heirs of Patrick Henry?” ad they ran in newspapers – 1776 Mesa Avenue — the address of the super-modernized house designed by Robert that featured in a 1952 issue of Popular Mechanics. With the help of Google Maps (contemporary) and the census charts I worked out what Enumeration District to look in. However, when I found the right sheet there was no entry for that address. Their neighbors and soon-to-be good friends Arthur and Lucky Herzberger were present at 1700. But no 1776. Where were the Heinleins? Had they entirely evaded the census this time?

I shared my mystification with Bill Higgins, who had also studied the Heinleins’ replies to the 1940 census. He explained that I was looking in the wrong place. The new house had not yet been built when the census was taken in April 1950.

So where were they? Bill tracked them down. Digging into the second volume of William Patterson’s Heinlein biography, Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: The Man Who Learned Better, he found two Colorado Springs addresses for them.  In 1949, the Heinleins had been living in an apartment at 1313 Cheyenne Boulevard.  They put their stuff in storage before going to Hollywood to work on Destination Moon.  When the movie was finished, says Patterson, “They made for Colorado Springs, arriving February 12 [1950]. Within three days they found a grim little house in the same neighborhood they had left in the spring of 1949 [footnote 3].” Footnote 3 reads: “This house was at 1825 Cheyenne Boulevard.” That was the place to find.

SLOWUPS HAPPEN. The address isn’t in the urban center of Colorado Springs, rather it’s down the highway in the unincorporated Broadmoor area.   

Finally, I was looking in the right district. Carefully squinting at page after microfilmed page I came across entries for Cheyenne. Going up the top of one sheet I found 1818…1820…1822…1826 – WTF! Where’s 1825? Wait…all these are even numbers. Maybe the other side of the street is on a different page.

Again with the help of Google Maps I identified the street names in the neighborhood, then did a mental walk around to test whether different sides of the same street had landed on different enumeration sheets. They had. I found another batch of addresses in the right part of Cheyenne — and there were the Heinleins! Eureka!

THE DOOR INTO SOMEWHERE. So what was going on at 1825 Cheyenne when enumerator Phyllis C. Remington arrived on April 6, 1950? Everything you’d expect, and nothing that you wouldn’t.

Here’s the Heinleins’ entry from the P1 form – with thanks to Bill Higgins for creating the excerpt. An easy-to-read table follows with a transcription of all the information.

NameHeinlein, Robert A.Heinlein, Virginia
RelationshipHeadWife
RaceWW
SexMF
Age4233
Marital StatusMarriedMarried
State Born InMissouriNew York
Processing Code043021
What the person did last week?WorkingHousekeeping
How many hours did he work40 
What kind of work?Free-lance writer 
What kind of business/industry?Writing 
Class of workerOwn business 
Occupation codesAuthors (006) 
Miscellanous professional and related services (899) 
Processing code3 

Codes translating “State Born In” to numbers:

  • Processing code 043: “0” = part of U.S.; “43” = Missouri
  • Processing code 021: “0” = part of U.S.; “21” = New York

Code number following the pair of three-digit occupation codes:

  • Processing code 3: Experienced unemployed [Procedural Studies of the 1950 Censuses, Issues 1-2, page 58; The meaning of the “3” code was correctly identified from a government table, regardless that the “unemployed” designation is wrong.]

IF THIS GOES ON… The personal information from the next census – 1960 – will be released in 2032.

8 thoughts on “What the Heinleins Told the 1950 Census

  1. But did Bill transcribe their info???? It’s very easy to do: start by clicking on the Help Us Transcribe Names button. Then you give them an email address, you’re sent a verification code (as an anti-spam measure), and you’re set.

  2. It is very strange to think of Virginia as having been born in New York. She had every mark about her of being a Great Southern Lady, including the ease with which one could fall in love with her at first meeting. But maybe that was just me, with stars in mine eyes.

  3. Pingback: NEWS FROM FANDOM: 4/10/22 - Amazing Stories

  4. Pingback: Two Vain Guys Named Robert | File 770

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