Fugitive slave (on slave record)
1850: Both samples
1860: All three samples
FUGITIVE identifies individual slaves who escaped in the 12 months prior to the census and had not been returned to their owners. Although not present in the holding, fugitive slaves were otherwise described as fully the possession of their owners. Users should use this variable with caution: it was not collected systematically and is not nationally representative.
Enumerators were instructed to note how many slaves from a given holding had escaped within the past year, but not to note which individual slaves had escaped. According to the instructions, enumerators were to record how many fugitives had escaped from the holding across from the owner's name. In some cases, however, particular enumerators took it upon themselves to indicate which individual slave(s) in the holding had escaped. We have kept this additional information in the dataset for users who may want to look at the individual types of slaves who escaped.