Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
The 1850 census was a landmark year in American census-taking. It was the first year in which the census bureau attempted to count every member of every household, including women, children and slaves. The first slave schedules were produced in 1850 and the last in 1860. Slave schedules were omitted from the 1870 census, following Emancipation.
Unfortunately, most schedules do not provide personal names. In most cases, individuals were not named but were simply numbered and distinguished only by age, sex, and color; the names of owners are recorded. However, some enumerators listed the given names of slaves, particularly those over one hundred years of age. Other questions were also asked that could be of use to those researching their African American ancestry. Slave schedules are available at the United States National Archives and through various genealogical databases on the Internet.