Agricultural Schedules of the Census, 1840-80, by Laura Szucs Pfeiffer

An excerpt from Hidden Sources: Family History in Unlikely Places, by Laura Szucs Pfeiffer 

Agricultural schedules have a variety of uses but are little known and rarely used. This set of records can be used to fill gaps when land and tax records are missing or incomplete; distinguish between people with the same names; document land holdings of ancestors with suitable follow-up in deeds, mortgages, tax rolls, and probate inventories; verify and document black sharecroppers and white overseers who may not appear in other records; and identify free black men and their property holdings, while tracing their movements and economic growth.

The schedules for 1890 were destroyed by fire and those for 1900 and 1910 were destroyed by congressional order. The remaining schedules were deposited among a variety of state and university archives by the National Archives and Records Service. Most are not indexed, and most had not been microfilmed until recently, when the National Archives asked that copies be returned for historical research.

Selected Readings:

Davidson, Katherine, H., and Charlotte M. Ashby, comps., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Bureau of the Census, Preliminary Inventory 161. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Service, 1964.

Meyerink, Kory L., ed. Printed Source: A Guide to Published Genealogical Records, Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1998.

Szucs, Loretto Dennis and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, eds., The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy. Rev. ed. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 2006

Websites of Interest:–Newly posted this week:
U.S. Federal Census Non-Population Schedules, 1850-1880
(South Carolina, browseable only)

National Archives and Records Administration
Non-population schedules description

2 thoughts on “Agricultural Schedules of the Census, 1840-80, by Laura Szucs Pfeiffer

  1. Repeating my comment from first section before I saw this:

    Bravo on adding non-population schedules, even if for just one state so far. This is a record group that has been very much wanted and requested.

    Also kudos for putting up unindexed records like this. Better to have access now than wait years, if at all, for indexing.


  2. When I was researching New York state censuses (microfilm from LDS library) I found many interesting things in the Agricultural censuses. Such as– my ancestor as a family doctor had 4 horses (2 in use, 2 in training?) to make his rural visits while the richest man in town down the street had only 2 horses. One set of records told how many pairs of woolen socks my ancestor knitted the previous year to keep her family of several boys/husband fitted; others told which year they had oxen and the next census around the oxen had been replaced by horses.

    If your ancestors were rural, as most of mine were, you can tell more about their lives than is found in just the population listings of names & ages.

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