How can the 1850 and 1860 census slave schedules aid my research?

The 1850 U.S. Federal Census was the first census to identify every resident by name -- every resident, that is, except slaves. In both the 1850 and 1860 census, there were two questionnaires, one for free inhabitants and one for slaves. The slave questionnaire, however, did not identify slaves by name, but listed them by age, race and gender, under the name of the slave holder. Only in rare instances is one or more slaves identified by name. Prior to 1850 there was only one questionnaire, identifying by name the free-inhabitant heads of households only; all others, including slaves were merely tallied (counted) within their respective categories: white, slave and free colored. The 1870 census was the first to identify all African Americans by name.

It is often assumed the 1850 and 1860 slave schedule are of no value because they do not list slaves by name. But used in combination with other records, slave schedules can be of considerable service to researchers, both those seeking their African American slave ancestors and those seeking ancestors who were slave holders.

If you are researching ancestors during this time period, you may want to consider posting to the Genealogy Today Message Boards to engage the assistance of others. Key Points

Using Slave Schedules

It is important to note, the age, gender and race seen on slave schedules applies to the slave only and not the slave holder.

Slave schedules exist for the following states:

District of Columbia
New Jersey
North Carolina
South Carolina
Utah Territory

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