Population / Slave Schedules vs Free Inhabitant / Slave Inhabitant Schedules


I'm wondering if there has been any discussion about changing the way genealogists refer to the 1850 and 1860 schedules. By referring to them as Population and Slave Schedules, and being mutually exclusive, we are implying that the enslaved were not members of the population. If we refer to them as Free Inhabitant and Slave Inhabitant Schedules, we are at least acknowledging the enslaved's humanity as inhabitants or part of the population.


Submitted byEEon Tue, 07/27/2021 - 07:53

Ann, as a rule, researchers identify documents by the titles that appear on those documents. In our own writings, we can choose the wording that more accurately fits the situation. When we craft our narratives today, most of us speak of the "enslaved" and "enslavers" rather than "slaves" and "owners." But when we identify the documents themselves, clarity and accuracy call for using the titles printed on those documents.

The one point of leeway that I see, and its one I personally try to observe, lies with the category label "non-population schedules" that the National Archives assigned many decades ago to the agricultural, industry, mining & fishing, "slave", and social schedules of the federal census. Those schedules are not, themselves, labeled "non-population."  To call them "non-population," on its face, is inaccurate because there is a named population in all of them. In my own writings and teachings, I refer to these types of censuses as "auxiliary schedules" and then specify the exact label that appears on the schedule I have used. The only justification for using the term "non-population," in EE's view, is when we must identify an exact database that uses those words in its title.