Denver, Colorado Statistically According to the 1950 Census of Population

Today’s post was written by Claire Wehking, Archives Technician at the National Archives at Denver.

Man at keyboard
134 Keypunch Operator, 1950 (National Archives Identifier 76643208)

Preliminary results of the 1950 Census of Population were published in a series of reports and were based on preliminary counts, much like the Census of Housing. The preliminary counts of the population in Colorado as of April 1st, 1950 were released in Series PC-2, Number 19. According to the table in this bulletin, the 1950 preliminary count was 1,318,048 people in Colorado overall, which is a 17.3% increase since the 1940 count. The population of the Denver metropolitan area was 560,361 people according to this preliminary 1950 report, which is a growth of 37.4% since the 1940 count of 407,768 people. Unless otherwise stated, this article covers the statistics of the Denver Standard Metropolitan Area, which comprises Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, and Jefferson counties.

The Preliminary Report Series PC-5, Number 16 discussed the characteristics of the Denver area. This report states that the age group with the most rapid growth was children under the age of 5, which brought down the median age by one year. Females outnumbered males, but in a similar ratio to the 1940 counts. 67% of people above the age of 14 were married, while 21% were single and 12% were widowed or divorced. The report also discusses the education figures for people 5 to 24 years of age, but notes that World War II and children leaving school to join the labor market affected these figures. Denver was a highly mobile city comparatively, with 25% of people over the age of one year old reporting having moved houses between April 1949 and April The labor force of Denver grew 37% since 1940 counts, and unemployment was at 3%, much lower than the 1940 unemployment rate, which was 16%. Government employment increased 64% over the 10 year period between the censuses. The report also noted growth in skilled trades which they classified as having special significance, as it was essential to defense production. The number of women working in domestic services decreased from 13% to only 5%. The median family income in 1949 was $3,426, which is around $40,500 in 2022 money.

Enumeration Map of Denver, CO
1950 Census Enumeration District Maps – Colorado (CO) – Denver County – Denver County-Denver – ED 16-1 to 686 (National Archives Identifier 7867143)

The Preliminary Report Series PC-8, Number 5 discussed the population of Colorado as a whole. Jefferson County, one of the counties that makes up the Denver metro, experienced the largest growth out of all the counties in the state between 1940 and The 1950 population of Colorado was nearly 39 times the size of the population when Colorado was only a territory in 1860. This report also breaks down the population beyond counties and includes population counts for individual precincts inside the counties. The Preliminary Report Series PC-12, Number 4 breaks down the characteristics of the population of Colorado as a whole. It includes two tables which include statistics for race and age, each broken down by gender and whether the area was rural or urban, and compares the numbers to the 1940 Census counts. The statistics on race for Colorado can be compared to other cities in the Preliminary Report Series PC-14, Number 1 which has charts breaking down the race statistics, including percentage changes, for the population of American cities larger than 50,000 people.

In the Census of Population: 1950 publication, Volume I, Number of Inhabitants, Section 4, Colorado as a whole is covered by different charts with statistical figures and the numbers for 1950 are compared to previous Census numbers. Some of the charts compare the 1950 figures with the 1930 and 1940 figures, while other charts included go all the way back to the 1860 Census figures, which is the first Census that included Colorado. Colorado’s population resided mainly in urban areas, with 62.7% of people living in areas classified as urban (Table 2). This publication also breaks down the population beyond counties and includes population counts for individual precincts inside the counties, which are then compared to the 1940 figures.

The Census of Population: 1950 publication, Volume II, Characteristics of the Population, Part 6 discusses the population of Colorado more specifically. In 1950, Colorado ranked thirty-fourth in population and seventh in land area. The median age in Colorado was 29.5 years old, while the median age in the Denver metro area was slightly higher at 30.8 years old (Table 10). Of the population 21 years old and over, 97.9% of Colorado’s residents were citizens, and 4.9% of those citizens were naturalized (Table 17). The median number of years of schooling completed for men over the age of 25 living in the Denver metro was 11.8, while the number for women of the same age group was slightly higher at 12.1 (Table 34). Table 34a has statistics for the birthplaces of the foreign-born white population, and the Denver metro area had more foreign-born residents from the U.S.S.R. than any other country. Table 73 included a list of detailed occupations which were separated by gender and whether it was experienced labor or just employment. Some interesting job titles from this list include funeral embalmers, radio operators, hucksters and peddlers, newsboys, bookbinders, window dressers, glaziers, furriers, loom fixers, apprentices of many types, asbestos and insulation workers, and bootblacks.

Enumeration Map of Denver, CO
14-a2-101

In the Census of Population: 1950 publication, Volume III, Census Tract Statistics, Part 2, Denver’s statistics were divided and listed by census tract. While most of the census tracts and their boundaries stayed the same from 1940, there were a few changes listed at the beginning of this publication. The statistics include gender, race, marital status, amount of schooling completed, age, employment status, and income. Some of the housing characteristics are also included in this publication. A map of the areas of the different census tracts is included at the end of this publication.

These publications can be found here: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial-census/decade/decennial-publications.1950.html and https://www.census.gov/library/publications.html (filter by year, select 1950-1959).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.