My last article addressed federal population schedules as a resource for identifying people who lived in the house you are researching. As a follow-up, I’d like to talk about the special census schedules as they contain a wealth of information about the listed family, the farm or a business. These schedules are generally not indexed, so you first need to locate your person in the Population Schedules, and then search the Special Schedules for the same town or district.
The special schedules most likely to be of benefit to the house historian include the following:
Mortality Schedules list those residents of a county who died during the twelve months prior to the taking of the census. If the census was taken on 1 June 1850, the enumerator would ask who in the household had died between 1 June 1849 and 31 May 1850, and would gather information on name, age, sex, birthplace, occupation and cause of death. With few exceptions, Mortality Schedules survive only for the census years of 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. If your homeowner no longer appears on the regular census or in a city directory, the mortality schedule may help you determine a date of death so that you can then search obituaries or probate records.
Agricultural Schedules were taken for the years 1840 through 1910 though the 1890 schedules, like all federal census records, were destroyed by fire and the 1900 and 1910 schedules were destroyed by an act of Congress. Agricultural Schedules can provide data when tax and land records can’t be located, and they provide interesting information about the farm, such as size and value of the property, number of farmhands employed, number and different kinds of livestock, and production of certain crops.
Industrial Schedules are available for 1810 & 1820 and 1840 through 1880. Most entries are for very small businesses, and the schedule will indicate the type of business, number of persons employed and their wages, etc. These schedules can help you identify home based businesses or perhaps give you another avenue to search for your homeowner.
Additional Special Census Records
State Census Records were compiled by some states, often in the middle of the decade and often but not always in years ending with “5.” These state censuses tend to mirror their closest federal counterpart while containing some additional information such as military service or religious affiliation. Many state census records are not indexed. Using the nearest indexed federal schedule may assist you in narrowing the search in state censuses.
Local Enumerations were taken by many cities, towns, and counties for a myriad of reasons. Some of these local enumerations are found under such titles as school censuses, sheriff’s censuses, and a variety of ethnic censuses. Like many state censuses, many of these are not indexed. Because they tend to cover more limited geographic areas, though, searching them may not be that formidable.