Happy Pride Month Everyone!!

This is a month to honor all LGBTQ+ folk past, present, and future. As genealogists and family historians, when we encounter individuals in our family trees that raise our rainbow flag or set off our “gaydar,” it’s crucial to pay attention to that intuition and delve deeper. This LGBTQ Genealogy Blog Series has been dedicated to precisely that pursuit.

Let’s explore an insightful example that intertwines ideas from previous parts of the series, including insights on census records (part 5), the significance of the role ‘partner‘ (part 6) in the census, and the rise of gay neighborhoods (part 15).

Within a single page from the 1950 census, we discover the lives of three cohabiting same-sex couples.

In lines 4-5, Robert K. Bellamy, a 33-year-old Art Director from Arizona (never married), is listed as the Head of House. He lives with partner, Robert Wardlow, a 26-year-old Private Secretary from New Jersey (never married).

1950 Couple 1

In lines 15-16, Helen M. Foster, a 50-year-old from Pennsylvania (never married), is noted as the Head of House. She lives with partner, Angelyn Collier, a 63-year-old widow from Ohio.

1950 Couple 2

In lines 20-21, Valerie Harvey, a 38-year-old from Australia (never married), is designated as the Head of House. She lives with partner, Constance O. Magan, a 31-year-old from Georgia (never married).

1950 Couple 3

These three Head / Partner relationships are enumerated on a single page of the 1950 census, specifically from Greenwich Village, Manhattan—a well-known gay neighborhood. Notably, five of these six individuals had never married. This goes beyond mere “boarders” or “lodgers”; these are three queer couples. The next step involves exploring additional documents to support the theory that these couples shared a life—obituaries, gravestones, newspaper articles, probate records, or property records may offer evidence.

The core message resonates: LGBTQ individuals have always existed and always will. As family historians, our duty is to welcome them back into our family trees, narrating their stories with honesty and authenticity, granting them a voice they may not have had during their time on Earth.

1950 Census page for Greenwich Village, Manhattan
1950 U.S. census, New York, New York, pop. sch., New York (Manhattan, Greenwich Village), ED 31-81, page 16; digital images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/62308/ :  28 May 2022); NARA microfilm RG 29.