NOTE: See my update at the bottom of the post! Ancestry has fixed this now. The correct link for the 1950 Census Substitute collection is here.
I received an email yesterday from Ancestry.com announcing the "1950 Census Substitute" which is probably a collection of City Directories from the 1950s. The email had a nice picture and a link to "Search now":
Being the Ancestry.com enthusiast and Genea-geek that I am, I eagerly clicked the link which took me to the 1950 Census Substitute page on Ancestry:
I put "seaver" in the Last Name field and clicked the orange "Search" at the bottom of the Search field (why can't the orange "Search" button be put at the top of the Search box? It would save some time):
Ah, there are over 51,000 Seaver persons in the City Directories collection. I clicked the link to see which ones from the 1950s there are:
What's this? It starts with Foxboro MA 18890 (probably a typo, eh? Maybe 1889-1890?), and then lists matches from the early 1800s. I stopped there, not wanting to go through 520 screens
to find the ones I want from the 1950s. I could add a state to the Search (I used "california" and the link is to 455 entries in the City Directories collection for California, starting in 1879. The URL says "1890census" not "1950census." Looks like Ancestry.com has a wrong link in the system for the 1950 Census Substitute.
There is a link on the email for the 1940 Census Substitute, and it links to the 1940 Census Substitute webpage. When I input "seaver" in the search field, I got a list of City Directories that takes me to City Directories from the 1930s and 1940s:
The 1940 Census Substitute search fields and pages work pretty well. The 1950 Census Substitute page doesn't, at least not yet.
These City Directories can be very useful as census substitutes. A researcher can find name, spouse's name, addresses, occupation and employer for heads of household and adult children that have their own listing.