Agricultural schedules are useful for both historians and family historians, providing an overall view of the agricultural state of the nation. These schedules recorded statistics on farms, plantations, and market gardens, listing the names of owners, agents, and managers. The type of statistics recorded included the total acreage of land, the value of the farm, machinery and livestock, amount of staples (wool, cotton, grain, etc.) produced, and
the value of animals slaughtered, etc. In 1880 farm operators were classified as owner, tenant, or sharecropper.
The Census of Agriculture began as part of the 1840 United States Census, in conjunction with surveys of mining and other economic activity. The Census of Agriculture repeated every ten years, until it switched in 1925 to its current five year cycle. The first Census of Agriculture collected a fairly limited amount of data, primarily on the production of major crops, farm acreage, and the ownership of livestock. Over the decades the Census steadily expanded to gather data on fruits, nuts, and minor crops as well as on subjects such as land use, farm buildings, farm labor and population, and farm production costs and sales. The data was then tabulated and presented for
the national, state, and county levels. This invaluable Census remains the only source for this broad range of data, collected regularly and uniformly over the entire United States.
1850 Agriculture Census
Elaine Nall Bay