Special and State Censuses

Special nonpopulation schedules, which include agricultural, manufacturing, and mortality schedules, can be an untapped gold mine for genealogists, providing information on recently deceased individuals and little details of an ancestor's occupation. Other special censuses enumerated slaves, military veterans and their widows, Native Americans, and even deaf couples. A number of states and localities conducted censuses as well, often during the intervening years between federal census schedules. These are all records you may wish to explore once you've been through the federal census records.

A special interim census, partially funded by the federal government, was conducted in 1885 by the states of Colorado, Florida, Nebraska, and the territories of Dakota and New Mexico. These special state and territorial censuses are available online for subscribers of Ancestry.com. The Florida State Census of 1885 is also available online for free at FamilySearch.org.

Slave Schedules (1850–1860)

Slaves were enumerated separately during the 1850 and 1860 census. These slave schedules generally don't list slaves by name, however, instead distinguishing them only by age, sex, color, and the name of the slave owner. A free index and images to the 1850 U.S. Census slave schedules is available online at FamilySearch.org. Ancestry.com includes images and indexes for the 1850 and 1860 slave schedules.

Mortality Schedules (1850–1885)

Mortality schedules were prepared in conjunction with the regular population census to record information about deaths that had occurred in the year prior to the census, including name, age, sex, color, marital status, birthplace, occupation, month of death, and cause of death. These mortality schedules survive for the years 1850 through 1880, as well as for the special federal census of 1885 for Colorado, Florida, Nebraska, New Mexico, and North and South Dakota. Mortality schedules are available by subscription on Ancestry.com. FamilySearch.org offers free access to the 1850 Mortality Schedule.

Agricultural Schedules (1850–1880)

Farmers that produced in excess of $100 worth of products (up to $500 worth on farms larger than 3 acres by 1870) were asked to provide information on their farm, crops, and livestock. If your ancestor was listed as a farmer on the 1850, 1860, 1870, or 1880 population census, you can find these schedules online at Ancestry.com.

Many states conducted their own censuses, often during the intervening years between the decennial census (generally, but not always, in years ending in “5”). Availability of state census records varies widely, depending on whether a particular state ever conducted a census, how often, and whether the records are still extant. Joe Beine's list of links to online state census records (www.researchguides.net/census/state.htm) is a good place to start your search.

Manufacturing and Industry Schedules (1820, 1850–1880)

Manufacturing, mining, fishing, commercial, and trading businesses that produced more than $500 worth of goods or services were asked to report on the type and operation of their business, with questions covering everything from the kinds and quantities of raw materials used, to the number of women and men employed in their operation. Many of these schedules are available online at Ancestry.com. You should especially follow up in these if your ancestor was listed in the population schedule with a manufacturing type of occupation such as flour miller or candle maker.

Veterans Schedules (1840 and 1890)

Living Revolutionary War pensioners were recorded on the back of the regular 1840 U.S. population schedules. In 1890, a special census was conducted for veterans of the Union Army and their widows. As with the rest of the 1890 census, only a portion of these special Civil War veterans schedules has survived. The 1840 Census of Pensioners (www.usgennet.org/usa/topic/colonial/census/1840) is available online as part of a Colonial America site built and maintained by Kathy Leigh. The surviving 1890 veterans schedules are available online at Ancestry.com.

Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent (DDD) Schedules

The 1880 Federal Census included seven supplemental schedules that collected additional information on household members identified as belonging to one of the following classes: insane, idiots, deaf mutes, blind, paupers and indigent persons, homeless children, and prisoners. Ancestry.com has these 1880 DDD schedules online (http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1634) for several, but not all states. You can also access a Special Census on Deaf Family Marriages and Hearing Relatives 1888–1895 at Ancestry.com (http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1582), which includes information drawn from questionnaires distributed to deaf couples as well as their hearing relatives as part of a research study conducted on the marriages of the deaf in America by the Volta Bureau in Washington, D.C.

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