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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course US: Occupational Records by Beverly Rice, CG. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
The Schedules by Year: Population and Non-Population Schedules
What questions were asked by the enumerator for each census year that could be beneficial to the research of an individual’s occupation?
Questions from the 1850 Population Schedule related to occupations:
- Profession, Occupation or Trade of each male over 15 years of age.
- Value of Real Estate owned.
- Attended School within this year.
- Persons over 20 years of age who cannot read and write. Whether deaf, and dumb blind, insane, idiotic, pauper or convict.
1850 U.S. census, Washington County, Maine, population schedule, town of Calais, page 125, dwelling 10, family 10, National Archives micropublication M432, roll 273.
As you can see by this example the rules were often at the interpretation of the enumerator. The occupation of 16 year old John Barker (line 22) is not stated. If you move over to column 11 it does mark that John is “Attended School within this year”, possibly the occupation.
However if this was true then on line 31 and 32, 19 year old William B. King and 17 year old William T. King have no stated occupation and they were not attending school.
It is always important to remember that the census is only one source and does not always supply the answer, even when it was a stated question for the enumerator to have asked.
The Agriculture Schedule
The Agriculture Schedule is two pages with 46 columns. Do not skip the second page, it is easy to do in a rush.
All questions related to the Agriculture Schedule are important to research in occupation for they give details not found in other sources.
Questions from the 1850 Agriculture Schedule related to occupations:
- Name of Owner, Agent or Manager of the Farm(this could mean that the farm might not be listed under the owner).
- Acres of Land
- Cash Value of Farm
- Value of farming Implements and Machinery
- Live Stock, June 1st, 1850 (this is as a specific date).
- Asses and Mules
- Milch Cows
- Working Oxen
- Other Cattle
- Value of Live Stock
- Produce during the Year ending June 1, 1850 (this is one year’s production prior to the date of the census).
- Wheat, bushels of
- Rye, bushels of
- Indian Corn, bushels of
- Oats, bushels of
- Rice, lbs. of
- Tobacco, lbs. of
- Ginned Cotton, bales of 400 lbs. each
- Wool, lbs. of
- Peas and Beans, bushels of
- Irish Potatoes, bushels of
- Sweet Potatoes, bushels of
- Barley, bushels of
- Buckwheat, bushels of
- Value of Orchard Products in Dollars
- Wine, gallons of
- Value of Produce of Market Gardens
- Butter, lbs. of
- Cheese, lbs. of
- Hay, tons of
- Clover Seed, bushel of
- Other Grass Seeds, bushels of
- Hops, lbs. of
- Dew Rotted, tons of
- Water Rotted, tons of
- Flax, lbs. of
- Flaxseed, bushels of
- Silk Cocoons, lbs. of
- Maple Sugar, lbs. of
- Cane Sugar hhds. of 1000 lbs.
- Molasses, gallons of
- Beeswax and Honey lbs. of
- Value of Home-made Manufactures
- Value of Animals slaughtered
1850 U.S. census, San Diego County, California, agriculture schedule, page 13-14; California microfilm C130, reel 1; California History Room, California State Library, Sacramento California.
Products of Industry Schedule
Questions from the 1850 Products of Industry Schedule related to occupations:
- Name of Corporation, Company, or Individual, producing Articles to the Annual Value of $500.
- Name of Business, Manufacture or Product.
- Capital invested in Real and Personal Estate in the Business.
- Raw Material Used, including Fuel:
- Kind of Motive power, machinery, structure, or resources.
- Average number of hands employed:
- Annual Product:
As you can see from my example even the small gold mining operations in the newest state, California, were listed on this schedule.
1850 U.S. census, Mariposa County, California, page 763, California microfilm C130, reel 1; California History Room, California State Library, Sacramento, California.
This schedule is a list of persons who died during the year ending June 1, 1850 or June 1, 1849 to May 31, 1850. This schedule is usually used to locate death information.
Questions from the 1850 Mortality Schedule related to occupations:
- Name of the person
- Profession, occupations or trade
- Disease or cause of death (significant if related to their occupation)
The occupation listed on the mortality schedule will help clarify the 1840 occupation columns. Such as with Samuel F. Barker of Calais, Washington County, Maine on page 34-35.
Samuel F. Barker, 1850 U.S. census, Washington County, Maine, mortality schedule, town of Calais, page 709, line 1 [copy of original is not readable, extraction below].
Name: Samuel F. Barker
married or widowed: married
Place of Birth: Mass(achusetts)
Month Died: October (1849)
Cause of Death: Liver comp(lications)
Number of days ill: chronic
The conflict between the occupation of “agriculture” in 1840 and “merchant” in the 1850 Mortality Schedule will need to be researched. There are two simple answers that come to mind
- Samuel F. Barker changed from Agriculture to Merchant in the years between the 1840 and 1849 when he died.
- The census taker put the tally mark in the incorrect column.
Which is correct or is neither, by using only these two records your answer could be wrong.
As stated earlier the title Social Statistics is misleading, there are many specific details related to certain occupation on this schedule including:
Questions from the 1850 Social Statistics Schedule related to occupations:
- Number of Volumes
- Newspapers and Periodicals
- Now often published
- Number of churches (per denomination)
- Number each (church) will accommodate
- Value of Church Property
- Colleges, Academies and Schools
- Number (Character, rank or kind)
- Character, rank or kind
- Number of teachers
- Number of Pupils
- Amount annually realized from endowment
- Raised by Taxation
- Received from public funds
- Received from other sources
1850 Sacramento County, California; social statistics schedule, page 685, California microfilm C130 reel 1, California History Room, California State Library, Sacramento, California
Questions related to occupations are not direct and usually only relate to the labor force.
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course US: Occupational Records offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.
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