Schedule No. 1 - Free Inhabitants
Listed by column number, enumerators recorded the following information:
- Number of dwelling house (in order visited)
- Number of family (in order visited)
- Color: This column was to be left blank if a person was White, marked "B" if a person was Black, and marked "M" if a person was Mulatto.
- Profession, occupation, or trade of each person over 15 years of age
- Value of real estate owned by person
- Place of Birth: If a person was born in the United States, the enumerator was to enter the state they were born in. If the person was born outside of the United States, the enumerator was to enter their native country.
- Was the person married within the last year?
- Was the person at school within the last year?
- If this person was over 20 years of age, could they not read and write?
- Is the person "deaf, dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict?"
Schedule No. 2 - Slave InhabitantsGenealogists with immigrant ancestors who appear in the census records often rely on the designation of the place of birth to begin research into the country of origin. In many cases the designations are misleading due to the lack of detail and mistakes made by the enumerators in understanding the responses given by the immigrants. For example, it is common in the early census records to designate the country of origin as "Germany." Unfortunately, in 1850 this reference does not apply to a specific country and can cause the unsophisticated researcher a lot of problems in beginning to do research. Sometimes, the researcher will assume that the port of departure from Europe was the place where the immigrant was born.
Slaves were listed by owner, not individually. Listed by column number, enumerators recorded the following information:
- Name of owner
- Number of slave: Each owner's slave was only assigned a number, not a name. Numbering restarted with each new owner
- Color: This column was to be marked with a "B" if the slave was Black and an "M" if they were Mulatto.
- Listed in the same row as the owner, the number of uncaught escaped slaves in the past year
- Listed in the same row as the owner, the number of slaves freed from bondage in the past year
- Is the slave "deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic?"
Age as reported in the census records is always a problem. Unless the year and month of birth are known, the age reported will depend on whether the informant's birthday came before of after the date of the enumeration. Usually, these reported ages are about one year off.
The most important information to glean from the census records is the abundance of suggested additional research opportunities. There are numerous examples of these opportunities in many of the questions and the responses. Examples include the 1850 Census questions about marriage and schooling. Both immediately suggest searching for marriage or school records in the place where the census was taken. Substantial assistance in identifying and locating these types of records can be obtained from the FamilySearch.org Family History Research Wiki. See https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Main_Page
The main idea is to think about about additional research opportunities that accrue as a result of your ancestors' responses to the questions and not just record the census records as "another" source. It also helps to go back through the census records from time to time to discover additional hints that may have been overlooked previously.
One of the important clues that can be obtained from the census records is the relative economic standing of the people reported. The one most important questions in this regard are the value of the person's real estate and the question of whether the person could read or write and whether they spoke English. In fact, the native language indicated can also be a more accurate factor in determining the country of origin than the country listed.
Again, according to the United States Census Bureau, see https://www.census.gov/history/www/through_the_decades/index_of_questions/1860_1.html, there were multiple questionnaires used for the 1860 census, including a separate slave questionnaire (which collected the same information as in 1850 census). I have already listed the separate schedules for each of the census years.
Listed by column, the free inhabitant questionnaire collected the following information:
Previous posts in this series.
- Number of dwelling home in order of visitation by the enumerator
- Number of family in order of visitation by the enumerator
- Color: Enumerators could mark "W" for Whites, "B" for Blacks, or "M" for Mulattos.
- Profession, Occupation, or Trade of each person, male and female, over 15 years of age
- Value of person's real estate
- Value of person's personal estate
- Place of birth: Enumerator could list the state, territory, or country of the person's birth
- Was the person was married within the last year?
- Did the person attend school within the last year?
- If the person was over 20 years of age, could he not read or write?
- Was the person deaf and dumb, blind, idiotic, pauper, or convict?
Previous posts in this series.