Non-Population Census Schedules

Every genealogist works with federal census population schedules. Our work with them is so common that we generally don’t even bother to specify that they’re population schedules. They’re just “the census.”

Far fewer of us make full use of the federal censuses. We know, at least in theory, that there are other schedules out there, but how useful are they really? Useful enough to go through the trouble of getting to them? And what exactly can they tell us?

This month we take a closer look at non-population schedules, specifically these five:

  • Agricultural Schedules
  • Manufacturing Schedules
  • Mortality Schedules
  • Social Statistics Schedules
  • Business Schedules

Agricultural Schedules—1850, 1860, 1870, 1880

My 3G-grandfather Malcolm Currie (1796–1875) was a farmer in Montgomery County, Georgia. I didn’t know anything about the size of his farm or what exactly he did on that farm. So I consulted the 1870 Agricultural Schedule, the last to be produced before his death. I wasn’t disappointed by lack of detail.

In 1870, Malcom Currie’s farm was situated in District 393 of Montgomery County and consisted of 80 acres of improved land and 3,080 acres of unimproved woodland. The cash value of his farm was $830, and that of his farming implements and machinery was $60. On his farm he had three horses, twenty-six milch cows, two working oxen, forty-nine other cattle, ten sheep, and twenty-five swine, all of which livestock was valued at $991. For the year ending 1 June 1870, the farm produced 140 bushels of Indian corn, 30 pounds of wool, and 20 bushels of sweet potatoes, all of which produce was valued at $30. The value of animals slaughtered or sold for slaughter in that year was $110, and the estimated value of all farm production including betterments and additions to stock that year was $267.[1]

That’s a much more detailed picture than just “Malcom Currie, farmer.”

Manufacturing Schedules—1820, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880

In the Western Division of the 1st Ward of New York City for the year ending 1 June 1850, Mary Wilson was enumerated as a flag maker. Mary had invested $500 in real and personal estate in the business. The raw materials she used that year were 15,600 yards of silk and bunting valued at $3,900. Her products were made by hand by herself and 3 female employees, who cost $108 a month in wages. Together, the women had produced 302 flags that year, valued at $6,240.[2]

We may generally associate manufacturing with urban areas and agriculture with rural areas, but don’t overlook either of these schedules for your ancestors in either setting. Many farmers had side-businesses. The man with milch cows on the Agricultural Schedule might be found producing pounds of cheese on the Manufacturing Schedule (sometimes called the Industry Schedule). Conversely, New York City in 1850 was still home to more than 100 farms in the 19th Ward alone, the area between what is now Manhattan’s 49th and 86th streets.[3]

While most of these schedules are at the National Archives, some are archived at state-level institutions. For New York State, most of its schedules are found at the New York State Library, which gives onsite access to both microfilm and manuscript versions. They also make microfilm versions available for interlibrary loan. (See Accessing the Records, below.)

Mortality Schedules—1850, 1860, 1870, 1880

Mortality Schedules may be the most commonly used Non-population Schedule among genealogists. Because they record some details about deaths that occurred in the year ending 1 June of each decennial census year between 1850 and 1880, they precede the advent of vital recordkeeping in many localities.

In Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, Lucindy Kelso died in July 1849. She was 25, mulatto, born in Louisiana, and enslaved. She died of a fever that had lasted eight days.[4]

Lucindy was among five enslaved people of Calcasieu Parish on the Mortality Schedule that year, almost certainly the only such death record for them. If these schedules, which cover more years than the Slave Schedules, aren’t a part of every African American research plan, they should be.

Social Statistics Schedules—1850, 1860, 1870, 1880

My 2G-grandmother Lovena Margaret Hall was born in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, in 1874, the same county in which her parents, grandparents, and several great-grandparents were born and/or lived. What was the county really like when she was born? I consulted the 1870 Social Statistics Schedules to get a sense.

For the year ending 1 June 1870, Fayette County contained $10,944,491 worth of real estate and $609,045 worth of personal estates, the “true valuation” of which was assessed at $46,214,144. Public debt is similarly detailed, as is (non-federal) taxation, including state, county, poor, borough, township, road, and school taxes (each of which would have produced records).

Seventy-six native paupers and four foreign paupers were supported the preceding year at a cost of $9,025. As of 1 June, there were fifty-four white native paupers, ten native black paupers, and three foreign paupers. Eight native criminals were convicted that year, and ten were in prison as of 1 June.

The county had no state library, town or city library, or library of court, but it did have one college library containing 300 volumes, three church libraries with 1,936 volumes, forty-nine “Sabbath-school” libraries with 29,210 volumes, one circulating library with 160 volumes, and 155 private libraries (including those of lawyers and clergymen) with 33,238 volumes.

I haven’t the space here to relay all the details for Fayette County, but several other sections combine to relay some of the character of the place. The Wages section relays the average wages for several common jobs. The Newspapers and Periodicals section includes titles published in the county, the nature of each publication, how often published, and the average circulation.

A great deal of detail is given for Colleges, Academies, and Schools. In Fayette County’s case, I took particular note of its school for “Sold[ier]’s Orphans,” which included 4 teachers, 100 male students, and 38 female students. The school was funded by $20,000 in public funds. This was just 5 years after the end of the Civil War.

Finally, the Religion section enumerates eight denominations for the county: Baptist, Catholic, Christian, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist Episcopal, Presbyterian, and United Presbyterian. In Fayette County in 1870, Methodist Episcopal was by far the largest denomination with seventeen churches, a combined capacity of 8,550, and property valued at $92,000. The smallest denomination was United Presbyterian with one church, a capacity of 400, and property valued at $1,000.[5]

Business Schedules, 1935

Prompted by the Great Depression, this schedule’s purpose was to provide data to the government for a thorough analysis of the American economy. Below are the fifteen categories of businesses that were enumerated and inventoried, as well as the current availability of each:

  • Advertising agencies—microfilmed
  • Banks—microfilmed
  • Bus transportation—original manuscript only
  • Construction—no longer extant
  • Distribution of manufacturers’ sales—no longer extant
  • Financial institutions—microfilmed
  • Hotels (including tourist camps) —no longer extant
  • Insurance and real estate—original manuscript only
  • Miscellaneous enterprises (mostly nonprofits)—microfilmed
  • Motor trucking for hire—microfilmed
  • Public warehousing—microfilmed
  • Radio broadcasting—microfilmed
  • Retail trade—no longer extant
  • Service and amusement—original manuscript only
  • Wholesale trade—original manuscript only

Each entry in the schedule gives a business’s location, description, operating costs and receipts, number of employees, and amount of payroll. The data was intended to cover the 1935 calendar year, but there were some exceptions in practice with a 12-month period ending either in November 1935 of January 1936.

This schedule is the only one discussed that has not been digitized and made available in some form.

Accessing the Records

Read more about all of these schedules, especially where to find them, on the National Archives’ Nonpopulation Census Records page. The Archives have partnered with both Ancestry and FamilySearch in making records available. Their exhaustive list of all records digitized by partners is so large, you’ll need to control (or command) F to manually search keyword terms like “nonpopulation” or “agricultural.”

Toward the bottom of the Nonpopulation Census Records page is Part 3: NARA Nonpopulation Census Microfilm List, a list arranged by state or territory. Each linked page gives details about the schedules available at NARA (with additional links for ordering paper copies or microfilm). It also gives information about schedules held at other repositories, often with links to those collections as well.

While we’re linking here, be sure to see the page for blank census forms produced by the National Archives. They’re incredibly useful for particularly difficult-to-read census pages, and there are many.

A good family history writer will make use of sources like these, weaving the more pertinent facts with thoughtful interpretation to enrich her text. Are you a good family history writer?


[1] Malcom Currie farm, 1870 U.S. Census, Agricultural Schedule, Georgia, Montgomery County, District 393, pages 11–12, line 9; image at Ancestry, citing NARA T1137, roll 8.

[2] Mary Wilson business, 1850 U.S. Census, Industry Schedule, New York, New York County, New York City, 1st Ward, Western Division, page 315; image at Ancestry, citing New York State Library Documents and Digital Collections, Albany.

[3] 1850 U.S. Census, Agricultural Schedule, New York, New York County, New York City, 19th Ward; image at Ancestry, citing New York State Library Documents and Digital Collections, Albany.

[4] Lucindy Kelso death, 1850 U.S. Census, Mortality Schedule, Louisiana, Calcasieu Parish, page 101, line 14; image at Ancestry, citing NARA T655, roll 21.

[5] 1870 U.S. Census, Social Statistics Schedule, Pennsylvania, Fayette County; image at Ancestry, citing NARA M597, roll 9.

  1. September 13, 2019 1:08 pm
    • September 14, 2019 12:21 am
  2. January 22, 2020 11:35 am

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