Dartmouth College Library Bulletin

Thesis Topics: Ready-Made



TEN YEARS AGO in this journal there was a description of the federal population schedules that we had acquired up to that time for both New Hampshire and Vermont. 1 These schedules, especially beginning with the 1850 census, tell an increasing amount, decade by decade, for specific localities (Hanover, New Hampshire, or Norwich, Vermont, for example). Since then an additional population census has been added to our holdings.

Our Library Bulletin article can be consulted for a more detailed description of the information provided in the various population censuses. The population censuses of particular interest here are those for 1850, 1860, and 1870. The article described these as follows:

In 1850 the census became munch more comprehensive. For the first time, facts about each individual were recorded separately on Schedule I, Free inhabitants. The name, age, sex, color, profession, value of real estate owned, and place of birth of each person were listed. Thus each member of the family from the youngest to the oldest was accounted for. Additional questions queried persons about school attendance, if married within the year, ability to read or write, and gathered information on the deaf, dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, paupers, and convicts.

In addition to Schedule I, other schedules included were: No. 2, Slave inhabitants; No. 3, Persons who died during the year ending June 1, 1850 (i.e., Mortality); No. 4, Productions of Agriculture; No. 5, Products of Industry; and No. 6, Social Statistics.

The format of the population census schedule remained the same from 1850 through 1900 except for the addition or removal of detail. The 1860 census asked for the value of personal wealth as well as of real estate. The census of 1870 asked whether or not either parent was of foreign birth. 2

Several years ago the agricultural portion of the federal census was acquired, but only for Vermont for 1850-1870, and it provides agricultural information and production statistics for specific localities. 3 There was no reason for acquiring these specific years and for Vermont other than that the film was known to be available. We are currently investigating the existence of more census years for Vermont as well as the same years for New Hampshire.

The value of these materials for genealogists is substantial but for students of history, economics, geography, and sociology they provide resources of direct value to academic research at the same time that they offer the opportunity for creative work with original records.


1. Dominic Provenzano, `Baker's Federal Population Census Schedules,' Dartmouth College Library Bulletin 20 (NS) (November 1979):39-50.

2. Ibid., 40-41.

3. State of Vermont 1850-[1870]Agricultural census Microform (Washington, D.C. : National Archives and Records Service, 1959?).