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Special Census Schedules, Part II: Agriculture, Manufacturers, Veterans and Slave Schedules

This article will describe several other special schedules taken with the federal population census schedule. Most of these schedules are not indexed, but are easily searched by skimming the schedules for the county and township where your ancestor lived


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The first article of this series discussed mortality schedules. This article will describe several other special schedules taken with the federal population census schedule. Most of these schedules are not indexed, but are easily searched by skimming the schedules for the county and township where your ancestor lived.

Agriculture Schedules: 1840-1910

Because so many of our ancestors were farmers, particularly in the nineteenth century, these schedules can be very interesting to genealogists. They were taken every year from 1840 to 1910, but the 1890 schedules were destroyed by fire and the 1900 & 1910 schedules were destroyed by Congressional order. Although genealogists do not commonly use agricultural schedules, they can be very helpful in several ways. The schedules contain the farm owner's name, number of improved & unimproved acres, cash value, number & value of livestock (horses, cows, sheep, etc.), bushels produced of certain crops, pounds produced of certain foods (butter, cheese, honey, etc.), and more.

Not only are these schedules invaluable for learning about your ancestor's agricultural production, but they can also help fill in gaps when land or tax records are incomplete, differentiate between persons of the same name, and document black sharecroppers and white overseers who may not appear in other records.

Manufacturers Schedules: 1850-1880

These schedules include information for any business producing articles valued at $500 or more per year. They include the business owner, name of business, raw materials used, kind of motive power used, number of employees, monthly wages for males & females, and quantity, value & kind of annual products. The 1850-1870 schedules are called Industry schedules. The 1880 Manufacturers Schedule added special lists according to the business category. If your ancestor was a businessman, these schedules contain valuable information about their work.

Veterans Schedules: 1840 and 1890

Revolutionary War pensioners were recorded in 1840 on the reverse side of the population schedules. However, you don't have to read the microfilm copies to find out if your ancestor was listed. The government compiled these names into a published volume called A Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Services. There is an index to this volume titled A General Index to a Census of Pensioners…1840 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1965), which you can find at most large research libraries.

Although the 1890 federal census was almost completely destroyed by fire, much of the special Veterans schedule remains. The National Archives has microfilmed the extant records, which include Washington, D.C., half of Kentucky, and Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Indian territories, and U.S. ships and navy yards.

The 1890 veterans schedule was supposed to include the name of Union veterans (or widows) with the following military information: rank and company, regiment or vessel, enlistment dates, details about any disability, and post-office address. Remember, this census is according to where they lived in 1890, not where they served. For example, my ancestor enlisted and served with an Illinois regiment, but was living in Texas in 1890 so I found his information even though the Illinois schedules were destroyed. The 1890 Veterans Schedule is a great resource for finding details about an ancestor's Civil War service, such as regiment or company, which you can then use to request a complete military service or pension record.

Slave Schedules: 1850-1860

These schedules list slaves under their owner's name, but usually just state the gender, age and color. They are available through the National Archives. Although slave schedules have limited use for researching slaves because they don't include names, they can tell you if your southern ancestors were slave owners. Contrary to popular belief, not every white person in the South owned slaves during this period, and most owned only a few (the majority of slaves were owned by a small minority of white plantation owners). Nevertheless, this sensitive subject can provide some interesting detail to include in a family history.

These non-population census schedules provide fascinating historical background and details about our ancestor's daily lives. The original manuscripts are generally available at a large research library in each state. For example, in Arkansas the originals are at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville while microfilmed copies are at the Arkansas Historical Commission in Little Rock. William Dollarhide's The Census Book (Bountiful, Utah: Heritage Quest, 2000) provides a complete listing of where to find each type of schedule for each year. Some are also available on microfilm through the National Archives.

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2004.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

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