United States Occupations Listed in Census Schedules (National Institute)

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course US: Occupational Records  by Beverly Rice, CG. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Census schedules

Search beyond the Population Schedule for more detailed information about occupations.

United States Federal Census Schedules

The U.S. Federal population schedule is one of the most commonly used sources in family history research. It is a great benefit to the researcher because it groups individuals with family, neighbors and in a community. It can place a person in time and place every 10 years (exception in the 1890 census) of their life.

This week we will review all of the schedules associated with the census, not just the population schedule. When supplement schedules were taken they complimented the information on the population schedule. These non-population schedules look with more detail into the industrial and agricultural segments of our society, as well as other areas.

Non-population schedules were not taken every census year. They may have included:

  • Manufacturers
  • Industry
  • Agriculture
  • Social Statistics
  • Morality Schedule
  • Veterans
  • Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent

The researcher can record the changes in life from “attending school” to retirement with varied occupation changes in between. The researcher can distinguish between individuals of same name and age by knowing the occupation. With the many different non-population schedules you can add detail to the individual’s history. What did they grow, how many acres were improved, and the dollar value and quantity of the products of an individual farm.

Then the researcher can use this information to launch into other records. Remember, you are searching for clues.

Other chapters and/or books will also be useful in better understanding the census topic. The first four books listed below are also valuable as a reference when trying to locate census records, and knowing what is or is not available.

  • “Census Records” (Chapter 1) inGuide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives of the United States. Third Edition. Anne Bruner Eales and Robert M. Kvasnicka, editors. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 2000.
  • Preliminary Inventory No. 16, Records of the Bureau of the Census. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1964.
  • Hinckley, Kathleen, Your Guide to the Federal Census for Genealogists, Researchers, and Family Historians. Cincinnati, Ohio. Better Way Books, 2002.
  • Kemp, Thomas Jay, American Census Handbook. Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 2001.
  • Greenwood, Val, The Researcher’s Guide to America Genealogy. 2nd Edition. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1990.
  • Arlene H. Eakle. “Census Records” in The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Arlene Eakle and Johni Cerny; editors. Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry Publishing, 1984.
  • Loretto Dennis Szucs. “Research in Census Records” in The Source A Guide book of American Genealogy Revised Edition. Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, editors. Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry Incorporated, 1997.


Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course US: Occupational Records offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at wiki@genealogicalstudies.com

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.