Sunday, January 24, 2016

We Don't Have Those Records. . . . Oh, Wait, Yes, We Do.

I'm sure that most researchers have at least heard of the nonpopulation census schedules that were completed during many census years:  mortality, defective/dependent/delinquent (DDD), farming, manufacturing/industry, supplemental, and social statistics.  The one I've seen most people focus on is the mortality schedules, which list those people who died in the year immediately preceding the official census date.  They were part of the census in 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, and 1885 (for a few states)  Part of the reason for them being used more than the others is probably their accessibility, as they are available in their entirety on  A second schedule that receives a lot of attention is the DDD schedule, done only in 1880 and also available on Ancestry.

After attending a class at RootsTech 2015 on these nonpopulation schedules, I became interested in trying to find my father's New Jersey family in the agricultural schedules, as they were farmers for generations.  These schedules were part of the census in the same years as the mortality schedules.  Unfortunately, the schedules for New Jersey are not on, and I wasn't planning any trips that would take me near the National Archives in Washington, D.C., so I put that research on the back burner.

While I was at SLIG earlier this month and doing some of my own research, I was reminded that my great-great-grandfather was a wheelwright, as he was consistently listed as such in the birth records I found for my great-grandfather and his siblings.  Somehow that triggered a desire to look him up in the manufacturing schedules.  These were apparently done in 1810, 1820, 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880.  I figured the Family History Library would have them, because it has everything, right?  Nope, not there.  They have very few.  So I started searching online for more information.

After refining my search terms on a few Google searches, I found a page at the National Archives with details about New Jersey nonpopulation census schedules.  I was surprised to read that NARA doesn't hold any of the 1850–1880 agricultural or manufacturing schedules for New Jersey, but the page does say that the New Jersey State Library has the schedules.

So, next stop was the New Jersey State Library catalog search.  I tried several searches with different terms — nonpopulation census schedule, agricultural census schedule, manufacturing census, U.S. census agricultural — and found nothing relevant.  After a few minutes of this frustration, I tried to go to the "Ask a Librarian" page, which at that time had a broken link that gave a 404 message (but is working now).  Somewhere on the site I found an e-mail address for the reference desk and sent a message asking if the library actually did have the agricultural and manufacturing census schedules for 1850–1880.  Unfortunately, the person who responded (no job title in his signature) apparently did not read my request thoroughly and pointed me to a book titled Agriculture of the United States in 1860, the description of which says that it was compiled from the returns of the census, not even close to what I was asking for.

I suspected that the person who answered my message just grabbed at the first thing he could find and was hoping to get rid of me that way.  I'm a little more persistent than that, however.  I waited a couple of hours so that I wouldn't be snarky in my message and then sent a second message, explaining politely that the book referenced was not what I was looking for and giving more details about the nonpopulation schedules and the pointer from the NARA page.  I even asked if perhaps there was some way to determine if the schedules had been there in the past and had been removed from the library's holdings.

This time the response was from the U.S. Documents Librarian, who had taken the time to look a little further.  The microfilms are indeed at the library, in the genealogy collection!  The library has the agricultural and manufacturing schedules for 1850–1880, the mortality schedules for 1870 and 1880, and even the social statistics schedules for 1850 and 1860.  She sent me the complete list and said that the microfilms would be properly catalogued (they're not there yet), which means future nonlocal researchers won't need to do what I did to find out the films are there.

The only piece of bad news was that the library does not permit the films to circulate through interlibrary loan, which really wasn't a surprise.  It just means I'll need to talk my sister into going to Trenton again to help with the family research!


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