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The Great Depression began with the stock market crash of 29 October 1929.
The 1929 Census of Manufacturers may help local historians learn about economic activity in the community at the cusp of the Great Depression. Genealogists may learn about a business owned by an ancestor. Alternatively, if an ancestor was known to have been a wage earner employed by a specific firm, the census schedules may provide insight into hours worked and wages earned.
The purpose of the census was to obtain useful statistical information about industry size, production, employment, power equipment, and fuel consumption. The data was collected partly by mail and partly by paid canvassers. Preliminary results of the data were published in press releases, and subsequently with more substantive analysis and detail in nearly three hundred reports issued in 1930 and 1931. The census included only manufacturing establishments that made products worth five thousand dollars or more.
The U.S. National Archives has placed some of these records online as “Schedules of the Census of Manufacturers, 1929-1929.” As of December 2017, images of schedules for Industries 101 (Beverages) through 518 (Printing and Publishing) are available. Separate digital files have been uploaded for each industry code by state. Within each state, the schedules are arranged in alphabetical order by county. Additional schedules will be placed online in the future.
Read “Butter Makers and More: Revelations of the 1929 Census of Manufacturers” to see and read examples of information recorded about two facilities in Ashtabula County, Ohio, and Bourbon County, Kansas, that made milk, butter, cheese, and ice cream.
More information on the 1929 manufacturing census is available on the Census Bureau website. “General Explanations” provides good background information. Detailed reports and results are at “Census of Population and Housing.” On that page, click on “Special Collections and Reports” (near the bottom of the page), then click on “Manufacturers,” and then choose the report of interest.
The photo of the butter vendor, ca. 1917, is from United States Department of Agriculture Bulletin No. 456, February 5, 1917, p. 8.
We all do it. We make assumptions all the time. About everything.
In genealogy, we make assumptions about our ancestors, although their worlds were far different than ours.
We make assumptions about the records. Beginners often assume there’s “no record” of an ancestor simply because they cannot find it–for any one of a myriad of reasons. A researcher might assume that absence of one kind of record means that related records are also lost. Experienced genealogists are not immune from the assumption disease, either.
The 1820 population census schedules of New Jersey are long gone. They were lost long before there was a National Archives. But are all 1820 census records for New Jersey lost? No.
The 1820 manufacturing census schedules for New Jersey did survive, and they are published on National Archives Microfilm Publication M279, Records of the 1820 Census of Manufactures, Roll 17. There are schedules for over 300 men and firms, and it’s great stuff.
Here’s the list of New Jersey marshals, types of industries, and manufacturers found in the 1820 manufacturing schedules. The schedules are arranged by county (although not in alphabetical order), but they are also arranged in numerical order. Before microfilming, National Archives staff arranged the records geographically according to the arrangement in the published Digest of Manufactures compiled from these records in the 1820s, and then by any discernible system employed by the marshals. This arrangement permits the searcher to compare the individual schedules with the marshals’ abstracts and the Digest of Manufacturers tabulations.
Certainly, the records show that these (presumed) heads of families lived in a particular geographic location in 1820. Better than that, however, the manufacturing census schedules document the economic underpinnings of these households and their communities. Here is the two page record for a cotton textile factory owned by D. Holsman in Paterson town, Aquacknonk township, Essex County (sorry for the blurriness in my photos). Page 1:
Some Assistant Marshals used pre-printed forms, as shown by this one dated at New York [City], December 1820, by J. Prall, part owner of the Rutgers Cotton Factory, also in Patterson [sic].
Great stuff. Both of the factories I’ve highlighted were “large” concerns, but there were also plenty of small shops included in the manufacturing schedules. If you had ancestors in New Jersey (or any state) in 1820, take a look at M279. You’ll be glad you did.
M279 Roll List:
1 – Maine and New Hampshire
2 – Massachusetts and Rhode Island
3 – Vermont
4 – Connecticut
5 -New York
6 – New York
7 – New York
8 – New York
9 – New York
10 – New York
11 – New York
12 – Pennsylvania
13 – Pennsylvania
14 – Pennsylvania
15 – Pennsylvania
16 – Maryland
17 – New Jersey, Delaware, and District of Columbia
18 – Virginia
19 – North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia
20 – Kentucky and Indiana
21 – Ohio
22 – Ohio
23 – Ohio
24 – Ohio
25 – Ohio
26 – Eastern District of Tennessee
27 – Western District of Tennessee, Illinois, and pages from the published Digest of Manufactures for Alabama, Louisiana, Missouri, Michigan, and Arkansas
I have not found M279 online. Viewing copies are available at the National Archives Building, Washington, DC, and at National Archives Regional Archives in Atlanta, Boston, Kansas City (Missouri), Philadelphia, and Riverside (California). It can also be found at libraries with large genealogical collections.
Here is an easily accessible copy of the descriptive pamphlet (DP) for M279, which also describes and identifies where manufacturing data embedded within the 1810 population census can be found.
There’s still 5.7 years to go until the release of the 1950 Census on 1 April 2022, but the National Archives and Records Administration has been working for some time to get ready for that event.
Enumeration District maps involve no privacy restrictions so they can be made available to the public at any time. In “Snapshot USA: 1950 Census Enumeration District Maps,” staff member Ellen Mulligan describes the maps and the behind-the-scenes work needed to get them online.
The National Archives Catalog was updated over the Labor Day weekend for the first time since April. Updates had been suspended due to technical difficulties, but hopefully the Catalog will again be updated on a regular basis henceforth.
I am not conversant with the full extent of the update, but it’s certain that there are many additional series descriptions, file description, item descriptions, and digital images. Here are some examples.
Digital image updates include Maps and Correspondence Relating to Minor Civil Divisions, 1940-1950 from the Bureau of the Census.
Numerous series descriptions for records in Record Group 28, Records of the Post Office Department, have also been added. These are records that the National Archives received after the publication of Arthur E. Hecht, et al., Preliminary Inventory 168, Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Post Office Department, published in 1967. Watch for additional series and file descriptions to be added over the coming months.
File descriptions provide information about contents of specific files. For some examples, here’s a link to files described in the Records of the Post Office Department.