“Agricultural Census Information” (Pennsylvania)

“Agricultural Census Information” (Pennsylvania  Historical & Museum Commission)

PHMC Agricultural Census Information

Beginning in 1850, the federal census included a separate agricultural schedule recording details on farms throughout the country.  Only those agricultural schedules from 1850 through 1880 survive. For additional general information on these schedules from the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, see “Nonpopulation Census Records.”[1]

The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission provides three record/data sets as part of its “Agricultural Census Information” page. The page examines the two federal census agricultural schedules from 1850 and 1880 and the agricultural schedule for the 1927 Pennsylvania state “septennial” census. For all three years, the site provides images of the original census manuscripts, as well as tabulated statistics based on samples from these schedules showing each township within each county, and maps visualizing the data for by township.

The images of the original records open as PDF files embedded within the page itself. This allows for stable images that can be enlarged for easier reading.

Using this resource

In 1880, Jonas Noll lived in Tyrone Township in Perry County.[2] The “census manuscript” image of the 1880 agricultural census provides the following additional data about Jonas’s farming activity:

  • Jonas owned 110 acres of tilled land and 30 acres of unimproved forest/woodland.
  • The farm, including the land, fences, and buildings, was valued at $6000.  The livestock added an another $441.
  • The cost of building and repairing the fences in 1879 was $430.
  • Jonas paid $200 in wages for farm labor in 1879, including the value of board. This hired labor was “upon the farm” for 48 weeks in 1879.
  • The estimated value of “all farm productions (sold, consumed, or on hand)” for 1879 was $1340.
  • Jonas had on hand 2 “milch” cows and 6 “other” cattle on 1 June 1880.  During the year 1879, 3 calves dropped, and he purchased 1 cow, sold 3 cows living, and slaughtered 1 cow. No cows died, strayed, or were stolen.
  • 260 pounds of butter were made on the farm in 1879.
  • Jonas had on hand 11 swine.
  • The farm produced 500 bushels of Indian corn on 14 acres of land; 500 bushels of oats on 18 acres; 40 bushels of rye on 4 acres; and 586 bushels of wheat on 29 acres.

The schedule also contains other data not abstracted here.[3]

1880 census manuscript

The data was compiled, using a 10% sample of each township/county. This provides some context and perspective for the information located on the census. For example, in the township of Tyrone, the 10% sample produced an average of 196 bushels of corn; Jonas produced more than double that amount, providing some insight into his relative wealth within the community.[4]

Ideas for further research:

  • The data on the livestock and crops can be compared with the farm owner’s estate inventory.
  • The wages and time spent “upon the farm” for hired labor may be helpful if you are researching a hired hand who lived in his employer’s household.
  • Compare the statistical maps with topographic or soil survey maps to explain why farmer’s grew the crops that they did.

Explore the Pennsylvania “Agricultural Census Information” at http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/agricultural_census_information/2586.

This resource is one of over 9000 listed in version 3.0 of Online State Resources for Genealogy. To purchase the ebook, visit http://haitfamilyresearch.com/onlineStates.htm.


[1] “Nonpopulation Census Records,” National Archives (http://www.archives.gov/research/census/nonpopulation/: accessed 6 December 2013); adapted from Claire Prechtel-Kluskens, “The Nonpopulation Census Schedules,” The Record, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Sept. 1995).

[2] 1880 U. S. Census, Perry County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Township of Tyrone, Village of Green Park, enumeration district 129, page 21, dwelling 162, family 171, Jonas Noll household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 December 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1165.

[3] 1880 U. S. Census, Perry County, Pennsylvania, agriculture schedule, Tyrone Township, enumeration district 129, page 12, line 6, Jonas Noll; digital images, “1880 Census Manuscripts,” Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/census_manuscripts/2958 : accessed 6 December 2013).

[4] “Perry County – 1880 Census Data (10% Sample),”  Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/bhp/aql/1880/data/Perry_County_1880_Census_Data.pdf : accessed 6 December 2013).