Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Check U.S. Census Mortality Schedules

The U.S. federal census enumerations of 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880, and the partial census of 1885 for six states (Colorado, Florida, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, and South Dakota), also included separate mortality schedules. They are separate from the population schedules. The enumerator asked for information about every individual who had died between 1 June and 31 May, both white and black. The mortality schedule included: person’s name; age; sex; color (white, black, or mulatto); free or slave (in the 1850 and 1860 schedules); whether married or widowed; place of birth (state, territory, or country); month of death; their profession, occupation, or trade; disease or cause of death; and number of days ill.

These schedules may be the only record of death for individuals since many states did not require recording of deaths until the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries. They should be one of the first records checked if a person appeared in a previous decennial census and cannot be found in the next. They can be especially useful when searching for enslaved individuals because the 1850 and 1860 census slave schedules usually did not list slaves’ names.

In addition, the mortality schedules of 1850 and 1860 include information about slaves who died in the preceding year. This can be a huge find when researching African-American ancestors prior to emancipation. 

Mortality schedules for 1850-1885 can be found online at; mortality schedules for 1850 can be found at FamilySearch and Findmypast.

1850 US federal census mortality schedule
Stewart County, Georgia

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