The 1950 Census was released on April first, 72 years after it was taken. This was Emilie Loring’s last census, one more chance to learn something about her.
Think of all that can happen in ten years, in the world and in a life. In 1940, the United States had not yet entered into World War II, and by 1950, the war had been fought, won, and put into the rearview mirror.
In 1940, Emilie Loring released her nineteenth novel, There Is Always Love. By April 1950, her husband had died, she had written ten more novels and moved out of her Beacon Hill apartment of twenty-two years. Love Came Laughing By was released in January, and she was hard at work on To Love and to Honor.
Where did she live? After Victor died, she moved back to Wellesley Hills where her son, Robert, now lived in her longtime home. But I thought that was in June, and we aren’t quite there yet. May as well check, I thought.
Finding them in the 1950 Census was a trick, as there is no index yet. Instead, you have to find the enumeration district that includes the place they lived and then search, page by page. That’s no help, if you don’t know where a person lived, but I had an address: 67 Longfellow Road in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts.
I entered that into the “Unified Census ED Finder” at stevemorse.com and got the Enumeration District, 11-333.
Then, I put that into the NARA fields to get the link I needed.
Look, look, look… page after page…
There it is! 67 Longfellow Road–her son, Robert, his wife, Irma, and granddaughters Sandra and Eve.
But no Emilie Loring.
Maybe she had gone to her other son’s house for a time? I followed the same procedure, this time for Lexington, and found Selden and his family. But still no Emilie Loring.
Where was she?
For years, her habit had been to stay in Boston over the winter, and she had often stayed at the Bellevue Hotel since Victor’s death. Maybe she was still there.
This took a little extra work, because I didn’t know its address nor what that building is called now. But I knew its location, Beacon Street, past the State House and across from the Boston Athenaeum. I entered the street name and the bordering cross streets (which I looked up on a modern map) and got two enumeration districts to browse.
Look, look, look… No. And no accounting of the residents of the Bellevue Hotel. Maybe there’s a special place to look for that? I’ll have to come back to that.
Where was she?
Mentally, I ticked off family and friends. Her siblings were gone, and her friend Beth Kerley had died, too. Louise and Lizzy Hallet were a possibility. Friends since their twenties, Louise often witnessed Emilie’s book contracts now, in place of Victor. The sisters were close enough that Emilie’s grandchildren called them “Aunt Louise” and “Aunt Lizzy.”
Those ladies were a mobile pair. They had lived all over Europe for decades, then traveled by the season–to their family home in Providence, the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., and various elegant establishments at Bar Harbor, Maine. They were headed to Bar Harbor that summer, as a matter of fact, but April wasn’t the time for it.
Their pied-à-terre in Boston was the Hotel Puritan on Commonwealth. I looked up its address in an old Boston Directory, located that on a current map, and found the cross streets. Commonwealth, between Massachusetts and Charlesgate.
This time, there was a listing of “boarders” that might have been at the Puritan, but there was no Louise, no Lizzy, and no Emilie Loring. Okay, there’s something going on with the recording of people in hotels. Let’s find out about that.
Enumerators stationed themselves in the lobbies of hotels and stopped guests in passing, asking them to fill out Individual Census Forms. If they didn’t happen through when the enumerator was there, the information could be taken from the hotel register.
Where are these individual forms? I’m not sure yet, but I want to look, because I’m still betting on Emilie Loring being at the Bellevue Hotel in April 1950. I have some immediate work to do for the book, though, and sleuthing has to wait. I read the instructions to enumerators, though, and honestly, they were rather fascinating. If you want to take a peek, click here.
Indexing of the 1950 Census has begun, and sometime in the coming year, we’ll be able to search for “Emilie Loring” and see right where she was in the spring of 1950. I say a silent word of thanks to the thousands of volunteers who do this work. In the meantime, use the examples and links in this post to find your own family and friends. Better yet, find Emilie Loring and get back to me!
In April of 1950, Emilie’s health was failing, but she still had another book in her. While we await her true location, I’m going to imagine her in a place where spring’s gardens are blooming, and ideas are forming about a young woman who marries a man she’s never seen and then runs into him, unaware, buying bracelets at a seaside shop.
“Not that one,” she whispered. “It’s been here for ages.”
He turned. The clearest gray eyes she had ever seen keenly interrogated hers…To Love and To Honor
Have fun searching the newly-released 1950 Census, and
Happy Landings, everyone!