1. Schedule of defective, dependent and delinquent classes
In 1880, a special census gathered information about the physically disabled, the mentally ill, homeless children and prison inmates. To see if your ancestor might be listed, first find him in the regular 1880 population census. There’s a free index on FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com, but you’ll need to actually see the record. You can access census images with a subscription to Ancestry.com, or view them for free on HeritageQuest Online, available through many public libraries. Censuses also are available on microfilm at large public libraries, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) facilities, and the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City and its branch FamilySeach Centers. You can rent FHL film by visiting a FamilySearch Center near you.
too. But most DDD records are housed in repositories in each state. Download a state-by-state locations cheat sheet from FamilyTreeMagazine.com.
2. Agricultural censuses
Many of our ancestors raised crops and livestock for a living. These schedules offer a glimpse of farms, even the numbers and kinds of produce and livestock. When you’re writing your family history, this information can round out your ancestor’s life story. If your ancestor was one of two men with the same name living in the same community, these schedules can be especially helpful—after all, no two people would own exactly the same acreage of land with identical numbers of livestock.
3. Manufacturing and industry censuses
These schedules enumerated manufacturing, mining, fisheries, mercantile, commercial and trading business. Information
collected varies by year, but generally includes the name of the company or owner, the kind of business, capital invested, and the quantity and value of materials, labor, machinery and products.
4. Slave schedules
In 1850 and 1860, slaves were enumerated on separate schedules. These list the name of the slave owner, not the slaves themselves. For each owner, the schedule recorded the number of slaves owned and the number released from slavery. The enumerator also inventoried slaves, listing sex, age, color, fugitive status, and whether each was deaf-mute, blind, insane or idiotic.
female age 49 mulatto
female age 40 mulatto
male age 8 mulatto
male age 6 mulatto
male age 4 mulatto
female age 24 mulatto
female age 7 mulatto
female age 4 mulatto
male age 1 mulatto
male age 35 black
Although slave schedules don’t give slaves’ names, you still can use them to learn about enslaved ancestors. You’ll need a good idea of where your ancestors lived or their slaveholder’s name, then examine schedules for slave families that fit your ancestors’ sexes and ages. For more help with this process, see A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your African-American Ancestors by Emily Anne Croom and Franklin Smith (Genealogical Publishing Co., $37.95).
5. Indian censuses
Researchers with American Indian ancestors will appreciate special Indian censuses including separate census-year schedules, annual reservation censuses and Indian school enumerations:
- Special Indian schedules: American Indians were enumerated on the 1880 federal census just like the general population, unless they weren’t taxed. Those who didn’t pay taxes appeared on schedules of a Special Census of Indians (National Archives micropublication M1791). For the 1900 and 1910 censuses, American Indians might be listed on special schedules called Inquiries Relating to Indians, found along with the regular population schedules. In 1920 and 1930, Indians were enumerated on general population schedules. Special inquiry schedules may give the name of the tribe, the federal reservation and the governing Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) agency. For each household, you may learn the type of dwelling and number of residents, and each person’s Indian name, relationship to the head of the household, marital status, tribal status, occupation, education and land ownership status. Sometimes these special schedules contain enumerators’ notes.
For example, on the 1910 census for the Indian population in Modoc County, Calif., the census taker wrote near a group of names, “Left to go into Nevada on a hunting trip the day before I visited camp. Will not be counted elsewhere.” And he recorded not only the state where each person and his parents were born, but the city as well.
- Annual reservation censuses: From 1885 to 1940, Indian agents were supposed to take annual censuses of federal reservations in their jurisdiction. In actuality, this happened more randomly than annually. Search these censuses on Ancestry.com and Fold3.com. The records also are organized by agency on 692 rolls of microfilm at the FHL and NARA facilities. To determine which rolls you need, download the Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940 PDF. The Dawes Commission compiled an Indian census card index for schedules from 1898 to 1914 to verify rights to tribal status for the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole). The index is available at the FHL and at the National Archives regional branch in Fort Worth, Texas.
- Indian school censuses: From 1910 to 1939, the BIA took censuses of Indian schools. These enumerations recorded details about children ages 6 to 18—their sex, tribe, degree of Indian blood, the distance from home to school, school attendance and a parent’s or guardian’s name. Often, they also include the mother’s maiden name. Look for the schedules in the NARA regional branch covering the area where the tribe was located (click here).
6. Mortality schedules
During some regular population censuses, enumerators recorded the names of people who died during the 12-month period prior to the official census date. (Because enumerators couldn’t reach every US household in a day or even a month, they recorded everyone’s age as of a pre-determined date.) Though some omissions occurred, the resulting mortality schedules are particularly useful in states that came late to official death recording, and might explain an unexpected absence from the census.
7. Social statistics schedules
Though you won’t find your ancestors listed on social statistics schedules—taken from 1850 to 1870 and in 1885—they’ll give you a detailed picture of the community where your relatives lived. For each county, you get data on estate values, annual taxes, wages, schools, seasons and crops, libraries, newspapers and periodicals, churches, pauperism and crime. Enumerators also recorded cemeteries with general descriptions and addresses (some even included a map with cemeteries marked), procedures for interment, whether the cemetery was active and, if not, the reason for closing. You might find lists of trade societies, lodges, clubs and other groups, with addresses, major branches and the executive officers’ names. Churches may be accompanied by historical details, statements of doctrine and policy, and membership numbers.
8. Veterans and military censuses
The US and state governments counted veterans a number of times, both during and between regular censuses:
- Revolutionary War pensioners: Names and ages of these pensioners were recorded on the backs of 1840 population census sheets. Their names are in A Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Services, available free through Google Books.
- 1890 veterans schedule: Although the bulk of the 1890 census was destroyed, the schedules of Union veterans and surviving widows survived for half of Kentucky and the states alphabetically following it. Check this census even if your ancestor fought for the Confederacy. Although enumerators were supposed to count Union veterans, some also recorded those who fought for the South. Officials who reviewed the schedules in Washington, DC, simply drew lines through the Confederates’ names, leaving them still readable. The schedules are online at Ancestry.com and on microfilm at the FHL and NARA facilities, as well as large genealogical libraries.
What can you learn from this enumeration? The name of the veteran or his widow, rank, company, regiment or vessel, dates of enlistment and discharge, length of service, disabilities and remarks such as whether the veteran received a pension.
James H. Goforth, for example, appears on the 1890 veterans schedule as a resident Morgan Township, Dade County, Mo. After enlisting Nov. 1, 1864, he served as a private in Company 2, 15th Regiment Missouri Cavalry, and was discharged June 30, 1865. He was afflicted with lung disease and was receiving a pension. As with population schedules, we don’t know whether James or someone else supplied the information, so look for a military service record to corroborate the data.
- Special military schedules: During the 1900, 1910 and 1920 federal population censuses, enumerators created separate schedules for military personnel, including those stationed on naval vessels and at US bases overseas. For 1900, these are on NARA microfilm T623, rolls 1,838 to 1,842 (find a Soundex index on film T1081, rolls 1 to 32). For 1910, military and naval enumerations are on film T624, roll 1,784; there’s no Soundex. The 1920 schedules for overseas military and naval forces are on film T625, rolls 2,040 to 2,041; the Soundex is on film M1600, rolls 1 to 18. The 1930 population census included servicemen, but you’ll find special schedules for merchant seamen serving on vessels. Search them on Ancestry.com, or browse them on microfilm at the FHL and NARA. These special enumerations certainly can deliver unique details about your ancestors.
9. State and local censuses
Just as the federal government counted the US population every 10 years, a number of states took regular or semi-regular enumerations. New York, for example, took state censuses in 1825, 1835, 1845, 1855, 1865, 1875, 1892, 1905, 1915 and 1925; all are open to the public. Other states held “one-off” censuses, such as the Kansas State Board of Agriculture’s 1885 count.
Special Schedules At A Glance
Consult this list to see which special censuses might cover your ancestors:
Agricultural censuses: 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880
Manufacturing and industry schedules: 1820, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880
Slave schedules: 1850, 1860
Mortality schedules: 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1885 (some areas), 1900 (Minnesota only)
US state/territorial census: 1885 (some areas)
Social statistics schedules: 1850, 1860, 1870, 1885
- Indian schedules: 1880, 1900, 1910
- Indian reservation censuses: 1885 to 1940
- Indian school censuses: 1910 to 1939
- Revolutionary War pensioners: 1840
- Civil War veterans schedule: 1890 (half of Kentucky and states following alphabetically)
- Schedules of military personnel on bases and vessels (including overseas): 1900, 1910, 1920
- Schedules of merchant seamen on vessels: 1930