non-population schedules
Genealogy Research,  How To Trace Your Family Tree

Is Your Ancestor In The Often Overlooked U. S. Federal Non-Population Schedules of 1850-1880?

Non-population schedules of 1850-1880 are important to your genealogy research. Agricultural, mortality and DDD schedules hold info about your ancestors!

Let’s jump outside of the genealogy box again and explore the non-population schedules. associated with the 1850 – 1880 U. S. federal census.

You know the ones?  Those census schedules taken beside the “regular census” in 1850-1880 collecting a variety of additional information on the country’s population. The information you learn about your ancestors on these schedules can add to your understanding of your ancestors.

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My interest in the federal non-population schedules when researching Panthea Overby Elliott. [Have you noticed I love researching the women in my family tree? .?]

In the 1880 U. S. population census, my great-great-great grandmother Panthea Overby Elliott is listed as “insane”. The Elliott family includes her husband Elias Elliott, 7 children, and a housekeeper. The youngest child was just 1 year old.

If your ancestor appears on the non-population schedules, you have a unique opportunity to learn more about them as individuals and their role in their community. Also, find the information you learn from a non-population schedule can point you to new clues and record sources not previously searched.


Hmm….. could I learn more about her and what this “insane” designation meant for her?

Yes. Yes, I can!

For this part of my research, I needed to explore the Non-Population schedules.

What are Non-Population Schedules?

Do you use them in your genealogy research?

Non-population schedules  exist for 1850-1885 and were used to gather data on unique segments of the population. The information collected in these special schedules was used to determine the types of resources the government needed, how to allocate them, as well as looking at public health issues.

If your ancestor appears on one of  the non-population schedules, you have a unique opportunity to learn more about them as individuals and their role in their community. In addition, the information you learn from a non-population schedule can point you to new clues and record sources not previously searched.

Six types of non-population schedules were used: (We will be taking a closer look below at the three in bold.)

  1. Agriculture
  2. Manufacturing/Industrial
  3. Defective, Dependent and Delinquent 
  4. Mortality
  5. Slave
  6. Social Statistics

Each schedule had its own unique set of criteria and was not collected for every year. Not all schedules are included by each state. Just as with other record sets you research, determine the year(s) and location(s) the record spans and the type of information it entails before you “jump into your research”.

The Defective, Dependent and Delinquent Schedule

To learn more about Panthea Elliott a closer look at the Defective, Dependent and Delinquent schedule of 1880 was needed.  You will often find referred to as the “DDD schedule” for short.

If your ancestor appears on the non-population schedules, you have a unique opportunity to learn more about them as individuals and their role in their community. Also, find the information you learn from a non-population schedule can point you to new clues and record sources not previously searched.

This particular DDD schedule is a bit difficult to read, so let me share with you the information gleaned on Panthea.

  • Panthea was from the Clarksville Magistrate District (Mecklenburg County, VA).
  • How Panthea’s care was paid for is difficult to decipher.  We think her family paid for at least part of the cost based on the answers of the others listed on the page.
  • Her “form of disease” was unknown. In other words, they were not sure what was causing her “insanity”.
  • The duration of her present attack is 1 year.  Hmmm…..Panthea had a one year old son at home.  Could this be related to  pregnancy or post-partum issues? Could there have been a medical event during delivery? At 42 years of age, her pregnancy would have been high risk. So many potential causes here.
  • This was her first attack and she was 42 years old at the time the attack occurred.
  • Panthea did not require to be restrained in a cell or by “mechanical” means (i.e. physical restraints).
  • Panthea had been (and still was) in the Staunton, VA asylum for 1 year.  A quick internet search reveals this was the Western State Hospital and the Library of Virginia holds the hospitals documents. Panthea’s residency in the asylum can account for the presence of Betty Goode, housekeeper, listed in the family household on the 1880 population census.

This DDD schedule tells us as researchers quite a bit more about Panthea Elliott. Taking what was learned from her DDD record, a search of the asylum’s records (which include patient records) at the Library of Virginia is warranted. 

Note: Each state is different is its privacy laws regarding patient records.  Some allow no access by researchers regardless of the age of the records. Others allow access if records are older than a determined date. You will need to determine your state’s privacy laws and how those will impact your research.

The Mortality Schedule (1850 – 1880)

The mortality schedules of 1850 – 1880 enumerated individuals  who had dies within the past 12 months prior to the regular population census was taken. Many believe these numbers were likely under-reported. Finding your ancestor on the mortality schedule will provide you with a death year and other information.  Not finding you ancestor on the mortality schedule does not mean your ancestor’s date of death can be completely ruled out as being that year prior to the census being taken.

Let’s take a look at what information on a mortality schedule. Here is an example from the 1880 Mortality Schedule for Halifax County, Virginia.

1880 Halifax County, VA Mortality Schedule
1880 Mortality Schedule, Halifax County, VA

At first glance, one of the things I notice is the age ranges of the individuals listed. Notice how many are young children. Sadly, a listing here could be the only record for a young child. 

Look at Daniel William highlighted above. He was a 55 year old married black male. He was born in Virginia and bonus (!), we learn both his parents were born in Virginia, too. A specific death date is not given, but the month is listed.  Daniel died in March 1880.  The form also asks how long a person had a resided in the county.  In Daniel’s case, he is listed as living in Halifax County for 55 years. In other words, his entire life. 

GENEALOGY TIP:  Often the headings on population census and non-population schedules can be difficult to read, but they are crucial to your full understanding of the records.  Find bland U.S. Census and Non-Populations forms on the National Archives website. Book mark this site page or print off individual forms to use while researching. 

The Agricultural Schedule

The agricultural schedule is a fascinating look at your ancestor’s farm. You can learn about their land acreage and the value. I found it interesting to follow the value of my southern ancestors’ lands pre and post Civil War. I have a better appreciation for the post war economy they experienced.

1860 Agricultural Schedule
1860 Agricultural Schedule, Halifax County, VA

You also will find out what type of livestock your ancestor raised and what type of crops they grew.  Don’t forget to turn the page to get all the information!!

Where To Find Non-Population Schedules

Have you been convinced to look closer at the Non-population schedules?  I hope so!

You can find the non-population schedules on . [If you do not have a paid subscription check with your local library. Many have that is accessible their patrons.]

FamilySearch has a few states’ non-population schedules such as Illinois and Iowa.

You will find having a blank copy with easy to read headings helpful when researching these schedules (and any census record you research).  Find these for free on the NARA website. 

Find anything interesting on YOUR ancestor in a non-population schedule?  Share in the comments below!

Other posts of interest:

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    • LisaL

      So glad you found the post helpful. Those non-population schedules are often overlooked, but provide a lot of insight into our ancestors’ lives.

    • Nancy C

      I found my 2x great grandmother Catherine Ryan Gilbride in the same schedule at Danville Asylum in Montour County, PA. The PA Archives hold those records and I was also able to get her patient records. She was 26 when admitted in 1877 after bearing a stillborn child, and suffering from “puerperal mania.” She never left, dying of pneumonia in 1881. She left one child, my great grandfather John Joseph Gilbride. So fortunate to be able to find her story.

      • LisaL

        Yes, I’m so glad you were able to tell her story! So many stories like Catherine’s get lost. I do find some states are more open with those records than others. Here in NC, I cannot access my great grandmother’s asylum records, but in neighboring VA, I can search asylum records for an ancestor.

  • Elaine Hatfield Powell

    I found my 3rd great grandfather in the 1850 mortality schedule. However, that schedule was NOT online ANYWHERE! I found the mortality schedule for Pike County, Missouri in the State Historical Society of Missouri in Columbia, MO. He was only 28 when he died so he is not listed by name in any other census.

    • LisaL

      Tonya, I think this means the farmer rented land and paid the landlord a fixed rent regardless of the amount of crops brought in. I’ve not seen it written like that before.

  • Nathaniel Johnson

    I observe both my Great great grandfather and his older son in the Non Population Agriculture schedule and found both in the regular census. Q: Is the Non-Population Agriculture schedule simply one for keeping track of Sharecropping Producton?

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