1850 agricultural census instructions

Census instructions matter, but genealogists do not always read them as often as they should. The image that is a part of this post comes from a set of instructions for the United States federal agricultural census schedules found on the www.census.gov website. It says that: “No farm will be reported of less than 3 acres, unless $500 worth of produce has been actually sold off from it during the last year.”

If you have an ancestor in the US agricultural census schedules, have you thought about what size and type of farm qualified? Was your ancestor who had a large truck garden from which sold produce supposed to have been enumerated?

Have you thought about reading the instructions?

Hard telling what you might learn.




2 Responses

  1. $500 in one year seems like a lot of money for back then. I didnt think produce would make that much off three acres. However, “being reported” meant that you would simply not be on the [agricultural] Census if you didnt have at least 300 acres. It’s actually the same way with population Census. They often didnt report an area of less that 1,000 people. They also didn’t report an area that was “inaccessible”–or hard to get to. Sometimes a Census taker wouldnt go into an area that might be considered dangerous. Perhaps that meant an lot of people “defending” their property and didn’t trust anyone form the government.

    • I think the intent of the 3 acre was to prevent large household gardens and what we used call “truck patches” from being included in the agricultural censuses. While some individuals did “live off the grid” (to use modern terminology), and certain some immigrant and homeless communities are/were undercounted, I’m not certain that there were areas of groups of 1,000 people who did not get reported.

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