United States Census, Mortality Schedules, 1850 (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: United States Census (Mortality Schedule), 1850 .
The schedules consist of large preprinted forms filled in by the census enumerators.
For a list of records by localities currently published in this collection, select the Browse.
Mortality schedules exist for the census year 1850, 1860, and 1880.
Census enumerators requested information from the head of household about deaths that had occurred in the year prior to the census. In 1918 to 1919, the Bureau of the Census distributed the original schedules to states or to the National Library of the Daughters of the American Revolution when states were not interested. Mortality schedules list those deceased during the year prior to the census. This is a small percentage of the total population. At the time of the 1870 census, it was surmised that as many as one-third of all deaths were not reported. For instance, when a family was scattered by the death of the head of household, there was no one left to report it. In 1880 a supplemental report from attending physicians added 60,000 additional names to the schedules.
In the absence of vital registration in many states, mortality schedules provided nationwide death statistics for one year of each decade, 1850–1880. According to the official statistical report for 1870, this was done to assess the death rate for age-groups, sex, race, nationality, and occupation and to “deduc[e] the effect of the various conditions of life upon the duration of life.”
Census mortality schedules are usually accurate, but this accuracy depended on the knowledge of the informant and the care of the census enumerator.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org. Source citations include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.
- Census Office. United States census mortality schedules 1850-1880. NARA microfilm publication T655. Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., n.d.
Mortality schedules include the following genealogical information:
- Name, sex, age, and color of the deceased
- Whether married or widowed
- Birthplace (state, territory, or country)
- Month of death
- Occupation (profession or trade)
- Cause of death
- If parents were foreign born (1870 only)
- Length of residence in the United States (1880 only)
- Father’s and mother’s birthplace (1880 only)
How to Use the Record
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.
Mortality schedules are a national level file of state-by-state death registers. Using the death information, you can search for obituaries, mortuary records, cemeteries, and probate records, all of which may provide additional genealogical information. Mortality schedules also list ages and birthplaces for a time period when births were not reported. Use this information to look for other records that may provide information about the individual, parents, and siblings.
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Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
"United States Census (Mortality Schedule), 1850," database and digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M9V8-G1C : accessed 4 April 2012), Amos Wright (Lee county, Lee, Iowa). Digital images of originals housed at the National Archives, Washington, D.C. FHL microfilm, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.