Non-Population Census Schedules: A Little Used Resource


Contributing Writer
Janet Wahlberg

This month I will present the first of a three part series of articles on a little used resource, Non-Population Schedules. In addition you may wish to take the course offered by Ancestry Academy titled, Non-Population Schedules: Your Next Step in Census Research as there is a great deal more information than I will cover. These schedules were recorded in addition to the decennial Federal Censuses of 1850-1880 as well as the special U.S Federal State and Territorial Census of 1885. They are divided into six categories, agriculture, industry/manufacturers, social studies, mortality, slave, and Dependent, Defective and Delinquent Classes.
It is important to know that not all categories were completed in all years and of those completed, not all survive. Of the surviving schedules some are online while many are not. As a starting strategy, you will need to locate the individual or family that you are researching in the Federal Population Census. The next step is to record the state, county and enumeration district (ED) that they are located in. Taking this information, look for the same jurisdiction in the non-population census.
Let’s take a look at the primary online resources Ancestry, Heritage Quest and Family Search. While using these resources be aware that not all of the schedules are indexed by name so you may have to browse them. As most of them are not terrible lengthy, this is a doable exercise.
On Ancestry, click on Search and then on Card Catalog which will open to a screen that allows you to type in a specific title or key word. Non-population in the keyword box will bring up Agriculture, Manufacturing, Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent and the Social Statistics. If you wish to look at the Slave or Mortality Schedules, you will need to type that into the Key word box. Another way to locate these schedules on Ancestry is to go the Federal Census Collection and then search down through until you find the schedule that you are looking for. Ex. 1860 US Federal Slave Schedule. IMPORTANT: Take the time to read the description of the database as it will detail what states are covered as well as what information you might find in it.
Heritage Quest may be accessed at participating libraries. Log into the Prendergast Library and enter you user name and password. If you do not have these, contact the library for assistance. Once you are in the site, it will look much like Ancestry as they are partnered.
Using Family Search, go to the search tab and enter the state that you are interested in and then look for the census records available for that state. By opening the year that you are looking for, you will reveal what is available at the Family History Library.
A couple of additional online resources are, Cyndi’s List and US. GenWeb.
Locating schedules that are not online will require a bit more work. NARA – the National Archives – has many of the records on microfilm. By accessing you will be able to see a listing of what is available and order the film that you want to review. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City also has microfilm that can be ordered and viewed at the local FHL center on Forest Avenue. A few of the films have been digitized and can be viewed online. In addition, various State Archives and Historical Societies as well as some University Libraries have records available. However, these will require traveling to those sites. Contact the specific institution that you plan to visit in order to make your visit successful.
The time spent researching these records will be richly rewarded as you add interesting details of your ancestors’ lives that are not available anywhere else, as well as details of the communities that they lived in.
Next month, I will talk about some of the specific schedules and the information that they contain.

To read Janet Walberg’s previous genealogy columns or to delve deeper into her writings and insights for searching out and recording your own family’s genealogy, please go to and visit Janet’s own web page.