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National Death Registers



In the 19th century censuses, there were mortality schedules during 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 U.S. censuses. Here individuals were asked questions regarding those in the family who died in the twelve months prior to the enumeration. This database is an index to several of these schedules. The schedule lists the deceased name, sex, age, color, whether widowed or not, place of birth, month of death, occupation, and cause of death. In 1870 the parents’ birthplaces were added to this schedule.

Each of the censuses from 1850-1880 began on June 1, “previous year” refers to the 12 months preceding June 1, or June 1 (of the previous year) to May 31 (of the census year).

The National Death Registers are useful for tracing and documenting genetic symptoms and diseases and verifying and documenting Africa American, Chinese, and Native American ancestry, although African Americans are often included, especially if they were slaves.

By using these schedules to document death dates and family members, it is possible to follow up with focused searches in obituaries, mortuary records, cemeteries, and probate records.

The Federal Mortality Schedules, using this database also includes Mortality Schedules from three State Censuses – Colorado, Florida, and Nebraska conducted in 1885.

Using the free FamilySearch.org; they have available the 1850 mortality schedules listing inhabitants of the United States who died between June 1849 and May 1850. It is totally searchable. Of course, keep in mind, this is 1850 and not all 50 states were joined to the union yet.

For Canada in 1871 there is a mortality schedule with FamilySearch.org. It covers provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec.

Using fee-based Ancestry.com; all the mortality schedules for 1850-1880 are available. However, you can check the index for free and to get to view the original full document you need a subscription. You can do a trial period with Ancestry.com and see how many ancestors you locate on the mortality schedules.  

If you have not researched these death registers, add it to your ‘to-do’ list.

Photos: 1880s hospital ward; Greene Co., GA 1870; 1850 Ohio and New York.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Sources of Death Records

Besides Populations on Censuses

Illnesses of Our Ancestors

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