Key for Headings and Subheadings
Major Headings in the 1880 Census
Comparisons of 1850, 1860, 1879, and 1880 Agricultural Censuses
* In general, the 1880 agriculture census includes many more categories than the 1850, 1860, and 1870 censuses. The 1850 census includes 46 sub-headings. The 1860 census includes 48 sub-headings. The 1870 census includes 52 sub-headings. The 1880 census includes 104 sub-headings.
* Notice too that the general data recording format of the 1880 census is remarkably different than the 1850, 1860, and 1870 censuses. For example, in the 1850, 1860, and 1870 census formats, headings and sub-headings are listed at the top of each page, with farm owners listed once per page, one column ledger per sub-heading going from top to bottom. Under this format, the entries for the John Fox farm are recorded on two pages of the census books. The 1880 census format is dramatically different with headings and sub-headings separating the page into fourths. With the 1880 format even though more sub-headings are included, all of the John Fox data is found on one page of the agricultural census book.
* While earlier censuses recorded production amounts, the 1880 census also included acres in cultivation. For example, the 1850, 1860, and 1870 censuses record bushels of sweet potatoes produces; the 1880 census also includes the number of acres planted in sweet potatoes.
* More detailed information is asked in the 1880 census regarding livestock than in the other censuses. For instance, the 1880 census records data as seemingly obscure as the number of sheep lost to dogs.
* For the first time, the 1880 census records data for poultry and eggs.
* The most significant change in the 1870 and 1880 censuses, compared to the 1850, 1860, and all other previous agricultural censuses is seen in the headings and sub-headings, which include labor. The 1870 census, for the first time, records "Total amount of wages paid during the year, including value of board." The 1880 agricultural census also records amount of wages paid for farm labor, but it also records the number of "Weeks hired labor upon farm and dairy excluding housework." Notice too that the 1880 census, under the general heading "Of the person who conducts this farm," includes sub-headings for "rents for fixed-money rentals" and "rents for shares of products."
* Of course, the 13th Amendment of the Constitution abolished slavery after the American Civil War so in 1870 the agricultural census records cost of labor for the first time. During Reconstruction and the late 19th century, land owners either rented land at fixed rates or took shares of crops in exchange for land use. The 1870 and 1880 agricultural censuses illustrate dramatic changes in the Southern agrarian society from antebellum to postbellum years.