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Nonpopulation Census Records

Updated March 29, 2005

Part 1: Introduction

Agriculture, mortality, and social statistics schedules are available for the census years of 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880. Manufacturing schedules are available for 1820, 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880. They are arranged by state, then by county, and then by political subdivision (township, city, etc.). These schedules can add "flesh" to the bones of ancestors and provide information about the communities in which they lived.

Schedules of business are available for 1935 for these industries: advertising agencies, banking and financial institutions, miscellaneous enterprises, motor trucking for hire, public warehousing, and radio broadcasting stations.

Agricultural Schedules

Agricultural schedules of 1850, 1860, and 1870 provide the following information for each farm: name of owner or manager, number of improved and unimproved acres, and the cash value of the farm, farming machinery, livestock, animals slaughtered during the past year, and "homemade manufactures." The schedules also indicate the number of horses, mules, "milch cows," working oxen, other cattle, sheep, and swine owned by the farmer. The amount of oats, rice, tobacco, cotton, wool, peas and beans, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, barley, buckwheat, orchard products, wine, butter, cheese, hay, clover seed, other grass seeds, hops, hemp, flax, flaxseed, silk cocoons, maple sugar, cane sugar, molasses, and beeswax and honey produced during the preceding year is also noted. The 1880 schedules provide additional details, such as the amount of acreage used for each kind of crop, the number of poultry, and the number of eggs produced.

Exclusions--Not every farm was included in these schedules. In 1850, for example, small farms that produced less than $100 worth of products annually were not included. By 1870, farms of less than three acres or which produced less than $500 worth of products were not included.

Manufacturing Schedules

The quantity and quality of data in manufacturing schedules varies by census year.

1810--An Act of Congress of May 1, 1810, the Congress directed that "an account of the several manufacturing establishments and and manufactures" be made. However, neither Congress nor the Secretary of the Treasury provided the U.S. Marshals with specific instructions as to what information to collected. As a result, the quality and quantity of the information collected varied greatly. The information will be found as annotations on the regular census schedules found in National Archives microfilm publication M252, Third Census of the United States, 1810 (71 rolls). Examples of these annotations are:

James Weston [sic, Westurn], Orwell, Rutland Co., VT, p. 179: 7 sheep, one spinning wheel, one little spinning wheel.

Eli Waste, Wilmington, Windham Co., VT, p. 409: owns one loom; fabrics produced during the preceding year (in yards): 60 woolen, 50 linen, 10 cotton, 50 mixed fabrics.

1820 and 1850-1880--Manufacturing schedules in 1820, 1850, and 1860 reported the name of the manufacturer; the type of business or product; the amount of capital invested; the quantities, kinds, and value of raw materials used; the quantities, kinds, and value of product produced annually; the kind of power or machinery used; the number of men and women employed; and the average monthly cost of male and female labor. The amount of detail reported in these schedules increased in 1870 and again in 1880. In 1880, supplemental schedules were also used for specific industries, such as for boot and shoemaking, lumber and saw mills, flour and grist mills.

Exclusions--Small manufacturing operations that produced less than $500 worth of goods were not included on any of the schedules.

Search Strategy for Agricultural and Manufacturing Schedules

Two research strategies may enable researchers to find "unexpected" information.

Example 1: "Sideline" Businesses--Researchers should search both the agriculture and manufacturing schedules, especially if their ancestors lived in rural areas. Farmers often had significant "sideline" manufacturing businesses, such as a tanning, milling, coopering, or cheese making. Some 1850 residents of Geauga County, Ohio, provide a good example of this phenomena. The following men are listed as farmers on the population census, and are also listed in the manufacturing schedule as being a cooper (Orrin Tucker), cheese maker (M.S. Barnes, Lewis S. Pope), saw miller (Bushnell Austin, James Moffat, Hiram Haskins), grist miller (Elijah Branch, Daniel and Eleazer Punderson, James Fuller), or tanner (Lewis Guitner, Augustus Gilbert).

Thus, a researcher interested in Lewis S. Pope, for example, would learn from the 1850 agricultural schedule that his farm, worth $5,000, consisted of 300 improved and 60 unimproved acres. His farming implements and tools were worth $100, and his livestock was worth $1,000. On June 1, 1850, he owned 4 horses, 46 milch cows, 2 working oxen, 14 sheep, and 2 swine. During the preceding year, Lewis slaughtered $40 worth of animals, and his farm produced 150 bushels of Indian corn, 40 pounds of wool, 50 bushels of Irish potatoes, 800 pounds of butter, 2,000 pounds of cheese, 100 tons of hay, and $10 worth of orchard products. From the 1850 manufacturing schedule, the researcher would learn that Lewis invested $700 in his cheese-making business and that he annually produced 7 tons of cheese worth $750 from 10 tons of curd costing $500. He employed three males to whom he paid a total of $45 per month (i.e., $15 each). Since Lewis made only one ton (2,000 pounds) of cheese from the milk that his own 46 cows produced, it is logical to infer that his cheese-making business (7 tons) was conducted by buying milk from area farmers and turning it into cheese.

Example 2: Nonresidents Enumerated--The agriculture and manufacturing schedules are not limited to persons who resided in the particular township or county. For example, Alfred B. Bridestone resided on the east side of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, according to the 1870 population census. However, he is listed--as A.B. Bridston--on the 1870 agricultural schedule as the proprietor of a 41 acre farm in rural Chester Township, Geauga County, some 12 miles from urban Cleveland. Was this fact important? For one researcher, finding Alfred on the agricultural schedule "solved" the mystery of how Alfred's stepson, Fred T. Brown, probably met his future wife, Sabra M. Hayford, whom he married in 1878. Subsequent research in Geauga County deeds revealed that Alfred's farm was just two miles from Sabra's father's farm. Until these discoveries, the researcher did not know of any pre-1878 connection between the Brown-Bridestone family and Geauga County, where the Hayford family had lived since 1833.

Mortality Schedules

Mortality schedules record deaths in the year preceding the taking of the census. For example, the 1860 mortality schedules include persons who died between June 1, 1859 and May 31, 1860. For each person, the following information is listed: name, age, sex, marital status if married or widowed, state or country of birth, month of death, occupation, cause of death, and the length of the final illness.

These schedules may be the only record of death for some individuals, as many states did not require recording of deaths until the late nineteenth century. In addition, gravestones or cemetery records may be nonexistent. For example, a comparison of the 1860 Geauga County mortality schedule with Violet Warren and Jeannette Grosvenor, A Monumental Work: Inscriptions and Interments in Geauga County, Ohio, Through 1983 (Evansville, IN: Whipporwill Publications, 1985), found 52 persons for whom there is no gravestone or other record of burial in that county. There were also 58 children born after the 1850 census whose only "census record" is the 1860 mortality schedule. It may also be the only record of existence for children who have no gravestone. See Raconteur, Vol. 17 (Jan.-Mar. 1994): 918-923, 927-934, newsletter of the Geauga County (Ohio) Genealogical Society.

Social Statistics Schedules

Social statistics schedules provide information about the ancestor's community. In 1850 through 1870, these schedules indicate for each political subdivision the value of real estate; annual taxes; number of schools, teachers, and pupils; number and type of libraries and the number of volumes they have; name, type, and circulation of newspapers; the types of church denominations, the number of people each church can seat, and the value of their property; the number of native and foreign-born paupers and the cost of supporting them; the number of native and foreign-born criminals convicted and in prison; and the average wages paid to farm hands, day laborers, carpenters, and female domestics. Note that these schedules provide only statistical data, not information about specific individuals. In contrast, the 1880 schedules of delinquent, defective, and dependent classes provide information about deaf, dumb, blind, and criminal persons who are listed by name.

Business Schedules, 1935

Microfilmed schedules relate to advertising agencies, banking and financial institutions, miscellaneous enterprises, motor trucking for hire, public warehousing, and radio broadcasting stations.

History of Business Statistics Collection by the Census Bureau

The Census Bureau established a Current Business Division and a Distribution Division on July 1, 1928, which were consolidated into a Current Business and Distribution Division on July 1, 1929; this Division was abolished on July 10, 1930. Then, on December 4, 1933, the Census Bureau established a Division of Business on December 4, 1933, with Fred A. Gosnell as Chief Statistician. This Division, which had also been known as the Business Census Division, was renamed the Business Division effective July 27, 1943. These successive Divisions supervised the business censuses taken under section 4 of an act of June 18, 1929 (46 Stat. 22), authorizing a census of distribution, the taking of business censuses set up as relief projects, and the collection of monthly and annual business statistics.

The suggestion that the Census Bureau should take a census of distribution or business, in cooperation with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and trade organizations, had been presented in December 1926, at a meeting of the Committee on Collection of Business Figures. As a result, a trial census of distribution had been taken in 1927 in 11 cities. The schedules for the 1929 census of distribution were based largely on the experience gained in 1927. The 1929 Census of Distribution covered retail and wholesale trade, hotels, the construction industry, and the distribution of goods by manufacturers.

The 1933 Census of Business gathered data on retail and wholesale trade, service businesses, places of amusement, and hotel establishments. The 1935 Census of Business comprised a complete census of retail and wholesale trade, service businesses, amusement enterprises, hotels, radio stations, advertising agencies, banking, insurance, real estate, bus transportation, trucking, warehousing, the construction industry, and the distribution of manufacturers' goods through primary channels. The 1937-1938 Census of Business was a sampling of wholesale and retail trade. The 1939 Census of Business covered retail and wholesale trade, service businesses, places of amusement, hotels, construction, sales-finance companies, power laundries and dry cleaning establishments.

The 1933, 1935, and 1937-1938 censuses of business were set up as relief projects, and the 1933 census was financed by the Civil Works Administration.

An act of June 19, 1948 (62 Stat. 478), provided that a census of business be taken for the year 1948 and at five-year intervals thereafter. The objective of the 1948 Census of Business was a comprehensive description of the country's distribution structure in terms of wholesale, retail, and service businesses classified by specific types of business and by State, county, and locality.

Scope of the 1935 Census of Business

The 1935 Census of Business was the largest and most inclusive inventory of business establishments undertaken by the Bureau of the Census up to that time. Much broader in scope than either the Census of Distribution of 1929 or the Census of American Business of 1933, the data for this census, when considered together with the Census of Manufacturers and the Census of Agriculture of the same year, permitted a fairly complete analysis of American economic life.

The Census was designed to provide a picture of essential items of business information concerning most lines of business activity in the United States. The severity and duration of the depression of the 1930's indicated the need for an intensive study of the business structure of the United States. This need for detailed economic data was felt by both government and business as a source for planning methods of increasing business activity, thereby stimulating economic recovery.

Funds to defray the cost of the 1935 Census of Business and for the subsequent publication of related reports were furnished by the Works Progress Administration. The canvassing of businesses began on June 2, 1936 and all final reports were issued by June 30, 1937. (For titles of the reports, see Catalog of United States Census Publications, 1790-1945. As of 1953, complete sets of published reports were available at the Library of Congress, Department of Commerce Library, and the National Archives.)

Fifteen categories of businesses were surveyed, including advertising agencies, banks, bus transportation, construction, distribution of manufacturers' sales, financial institutions, hotels (including tourist camps), insurance and real estate, miscellaneous enterprises (primarily nonprofit organizations), motor trucking for hire, public warehousing, radio broadcasting, retail trade, service and amusement, whole trade.

Upon completion of tabulations and reports, the Department of Commerce, under authority granted by Congress, disposed of the schedules relating to the following: construction; distribution of manufacturers' sales; and hotels, retail trade, and service and amusement. (Construction: 75th Cong., 1st sess., H. Rep. No. 1538, July 21, 1937, and 78th Cong., 1st sess., H. Rep. No. 555, June 16, 1943; Manufacturers' sales: 81st Cong., 2d sess., H. Rep. No. 3208, Dec. 19, 1950; Service and amusement: 78th Cong., 1st sess., H. Rep. No. 555, June 16, 1943).

The schedules relating to advertising agencies, banks, bus transportation, financial institutions, insurance and real estate, miscellaneous, motor trucking for hire, public warehousing, and radio broadcasting were retained and transferred to the custody of the National Archives in 1941 and 1946.

In 1953, in order to dispose of the paper schedules, the National Archives transferred to microfilm the following categories of schedules: advertising agencies, banks and other financial institutions, miscellaneous enterprises, motor trucking for hire, public warehousing, and radio broadcasting. Disposal of the original paper schedules after microfilming was authorized by Congress (83d Cong., 1st Sess. H. Rept. 573, June 17, 1953). The remaining schedules, relating to bus transportation, insurance and real estate, service and amusement, and wholesale trade were retained in paper form because "resources required for extensive rearrangement prior to microfilming were not available."

Available 1935 Census of Business Microfilm Publications

Roll lists are available for the six 1935 Census of Business microfilm publications:

M1797. Advertising Agencies (1 roll).
M2066. Banking and Financial Institutions (31 rolls).
M2067. Miscellaneous Enterprises (43 rolls).
M2068. Motor Trucking for Hire (103 rolls).
M2069. Public Warehousing (6 rolls).
M2070. Radio Broadcasting Stations (1 roll).

Part 2: Where to Find These Records

Washington, DC

You may do research in nonpopulation census records in person at the National Archives Building, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20408-0001. Go to the Microfilm Reading Room. Staff is available there to answer your questions. Check the online Microfilm Catalog for available nonpopulation census microfilms. Hint: Use nonpopulation, manufacturing, mortality, or 1935 census as keywords.

All microfilmed records may be examined during regular research room hours in the Microfilm Research Room; no prior arrangement is necessary. Researchers coming from a distance may wish to call in advance of their visit (1) to verify research room hours and (2) to have any additional questions answered. The Consultant's Office can be reached at 202-501-5400.

Regional Records Services Facilities

Some National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Regional Records Services Facilities have selected nonpopulation census records. Check the online Microfilm Catalog for available nonpopulation census microfilms. Hint: Use nonpopulation, manufacturing, mortality, or 1935 census as keywords.

State Archives

If the nonpopulation census schedules in which you are interested are not available from NARA, then you should contact the state archives or equivalent agency, which may make microfilmed records available through interlibrary loan.

Part 3: NARA Nonpopulation Census Microfilm List

States and Territories
Alabama Alaska American Samoa Arizona
Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut
Delaware District of Columbia Florida Georgia
Hawaii Idaho Illinois
Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky
Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts
Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri
Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire
New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina
North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon
Puerto Rico Rhode Island South Carolina
South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah
Vermont Virginia Virgin Islands Washington
West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming  

Part 4: For More Information

For more detailed information about nonpopulation census forms and instructions before 1900, consult: Caroll D. Wright, History and Growth of the United States Census (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1900; reprinted by Johnson Reprint Corporation, New York, 1966).

This webpage is adapted from Claire Prechtel-Kluskens, "The Nonpopulation Census Schedules," The Record, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 9 & 25 (Sept. 1995).

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