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About the Slave PUMS

The Public Use Microdata Samples of the Slave Population are a series of six samples taken from the 1850 and 1860 Censuses of Slave Inhabitants. In both 1850 and 1860, the United States census contained two population schedules. Schedule 1 enumerated details of the free population, while Schedule 2 enumerated details of the slave population. Samples from Schedule 1 of the 1850 and 1860 censuses are available at the main IPUMS site. The Slave PUMS provides the first nationally-representative samples of Schedule 2, the Census of Slave Inhabitants, as well as the first nationally-representative sample linking data from the Slave Schedules to data from the Free Population Schedules.

The questions included in the Census of Slave Inhabitants were relatively few: schedules from both years asked slaves’ age, sex, color, and disabilities including whether deaf, dumb, blind, insane or idiotic. Enumerators were allowed to record slaves’ names in the 1860 census if the slave was over 100 years of age. Slaveholders also provided information about the number of slaves who had been manumitted or escaped in the prior year. In 1860, the number of houses provided to slaves on the slaveholding was also tallied.

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