Today’s featured FamilySearch collection is United States Census (Slave Schedule), 1860.
About This Collection
This searchable collection includes an index and images of slave schedules listing the names of slaveholders and the age and gender of those they enslaved in 1860. The 1860 Census Slave Schedules were made at the same time the 1860 Census was made. With very few exceptions, the slave schedules list only the name of the slaveholder. The schedules are arranged by enumeration district, just as the 1860 U.S. Census was arranged, and information reported was for the official census enumeration date of June 1, 1860.
You can browse the 49,346 images that make up this collection. The Browse page is arranged by state, thereunder by county, and finally by enumeration district. For more information about this collection, please see the collection’s Learn More page.
What Census Slave Schedules Can and Cannot Tell You
Let’s take a look at the column headings on the 1860 Census Slave Schedule to see the information recorded for each slaveholder (please click on the image to view larger). You can download your own blank 1860 U.S. Census Slave Schedule form here.
- Name of Slave Owner
- Number of Slaves
- Fugitives from the State
- Number Manumitted
- Deaf & Dumb, Blind, Insane or Idiotic
- Number of Slave Houses
- Census slave schedules can help you identify the slaveholders in a particular census enumeration district. Keep in mind that slaveholders who had more than one plantation will be listed in each of the enumeration districts where they held enslaved people.
- Census slave schedules alone cannot tell you where a slaveholder lived. You will need to consult the appropriate census to learn where a slaveholder and their family lived.
- Census slave schedules can help you determine if a potential slaveholder for your ancestor held an enslaved person of the right age and gender to be your ancestor. If you are researching a slaveholder who you feel may be your ancestor’s enslaver, check the census slave schedules to see if that slaveholder held an enslaved person of the appropriate age and gender.
- Census slave schedules cannot tell you if a person listed among the enslaved for a specific slaveholder was indeed your ancestor. Census slave schedules that list age and gender only cannot be used in isolation to identify a slaveholder for your ancestor, no how, no way. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Slave schedules can be a part of your genealogical proof of your ancestor’s enslaver, but they must be accompanied by other documents that identify by name the enslaved people held by a particular slaveholder.
- Census slave schedules can help you determine if a particular slaveholder held an enslaved person who was a runaway. In the example below, three fugitives are listed for John Turney in York District, South Carolina:
Name: John Turney
Event Type: Census
Event Date: 1860
Event Place: York, South Carolina, United States
Event Place (Original): York, South Carolina
Relationship to Owner: Owner
“United States Census (Slave Schedule), 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:W89X-NBT2 : 16 October 2019), John Turney, 1860.
We searched runaway slave ads and found an advertisement for three runaways from John Turney:
$50 Reward — The subscriber offers the above REWARD for the apprehension and lodgment in York jail, or delivery to him, of the THREE NEGROES herein after named; or SIXTEEN DOLLARS FOR EITHER, who ranaway from him on or about the 14th day of July last, and have not since been heard of , to wit:
THOMAS, a negro boy, about 18 years of age, copper color, about 5 feet 7 inches high, thick lips, and speaks slowly, but very distinctly.
ELIZA, a negro girl, about 13 years of age – a little darker than the boy Tom – she is heavy built, and well grown of her age.
CYNTHIA, a negro girl, about nine or ten years of age, of a copper color, something brighter than boy Tom.
In addition to the above reward, I will give FIFTY DOLLARS for evidence which will convict any one of harboring said slaves.
- Census slave schedules can tell you how many slave cabins were on a particular property.
- Census slave schedules can tell you if an enslaved person listed in the schedules was blind, deaf, unable to speak or mentally disabled. In the example below, Joseph Prevost was listed in the St. Andrews enumeration district holding an enslaved female, age 70, who was blind:
- Census slave schedules can tell you if a slaveholder emancipated any enslaved people during the period covered by the census.
To see an example of how a Census Slave Schedule helped us learn more about a genealogical mystery, please see our post African American Genealogy: When the Pieces Come Together – Guyton Family Bible, Oakley Plantation, Berkeley, SC.
Census slave schedules can be an important part of your genealogical proof toolkit if used properly. Please see the resources below to learn more about these records.
Explore More: Related Resources
The FamilySearch Wiki page United States Census Slave Schedules provides an overview of the 1850 and 1860 Census Slave Schedules. The Wiki page Genealogy Research Forms contains links to blank 1850 and 1860 Census Slave Schedules.
Angela Walton Raji has written about the census slave schedules and how to use them in your research. See her article Slave Schedules – Use Them Properly and Tell The Story for further discussion.
To learn more about researching enslaved ancestors, you can view BlackProGen LIVE! Ep 51: Finding and Tracing Enslaved Ancestors.
More FamilySearch Wiki Resources for African American Genealogy
Researching African American Genealogy provides step-by-step guidance for beginning your ancestor search, as well as links to online resources.
Quick Guide to African American Records contains information on beginning research tips, links to suggested guides for beginning your search for African American ancestors, overviews of major record sets, tips for finding the slaveholder, links to tutorials for African American genealogy in the FamilySearch Learning Center, and links to other online and offline resources.
Southern States Slavery and Bondage Collections will help you locate digitized searchable collections as well as digitized microfilms in the FamilySearch catalog related to slavery and bondage. The page is arranged by state.
African American Genealogy provides links to Wiki pages for researching African Americans in each U.S. state.