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Roots and branches

Question: What is a mortality schedule?

Answer: Mortality schedules were supplemental schedules to the federal census for 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. There were a few taken in 1890, but the only one remaining is for Minnesota. The schedule covered the one-year period prior to the federal census date. For example, the 1850 census was taken as of June 1, 1850, and the mortality schedule covers the deaths from June 1, 1849 to May 31, 1850.

States were not required to have a death registration. After the statistics were compiled, the originals were to be destroyed. Luckily for genealogists, they were not.



As in the regular census, the information varies as to year, but generally includes the name of the deceased, age, sex, race, marital status, birthplace, occupation and month and cause of death.

Another supplemental census taken 1850 through 1880 was the agricultural schedule. This listed the name of the owner, agent or manager of the farm; number of improved and unimproved acres; cash value of the farm; value of the farming implements and machinery; number and value of various farm animals; bushels of wheat, rye, corn, oats, etc., produced in the previous 12 months; pounds of butter, cheese, flax, cane sugar, maple sugar, beeswax and honey produced in the previous 12 months; value of orchard products; wine produced; hay produced; gallons of molasses; value of homemade manufactures; and value of slaughtered animals.




Industry and manufacturing schedules gave the name of the business, capital invested, raw materials used, motive power used, number of employees, monthly cost for male and female wages, and the quantities, kind and values of the annual product.

All three schedules provide a different look at your ancestors.

Josie Plescia Vaughn is the librarian of the Nevada County Genealogy Society. Send questions to NCGS, P.O. Box 176, Cedar Ridge 95924, or e-mail


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