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Summer 2004
A Publication of the St. Louis Public Library

Vol. 4   No. 2


Help!! provides an opportunity for readers to ask for assistance with genealogical queries. We invite our readers to contribute solutions to questions featured in this section. See the Contact section for e-mail and postal addresses. Put GFH-HELP!! in the subject line.

Q: I have heard about slave schedules, but when I looked for my slave ancestor, I couldn’t find him listed. What are slave schedules, and how are they used?

A: Slave Schedules were taken as part of the Federal Census for 1850 and 1860 only. They listed the slave owner by name and then entered how many slaves that person owned, with age, gender, and whether the person was black or mulatto. There was also a column for remarks where the census taker might note physical or mental infirmities or the slave’s occupation. Slaves more than 100 years old were noted by name and had brief biographical notes. The names of the actual slaves were listed extremely rarely; the census takers were instructed to list only how many slaves there were. The primary use of slave schedules is to confirm that a particular slave owner had a slave of the correct age and gender to be the ancestor in question, prior to following up with other sources such as Freedman’s Bureau records or property records.

Q: I have discovered that one of my ancestors was a medical doctor based on census and city directory records and his obituary. However, I would like to know where he went to medical school. Is there any way to find out?

A: If it was long ago, it is quite likely that he didn’t go to medical school but was apprenticed to another physician. However, by the 19th century, it was much more common to attend a medical school. It is possible to find out which one your ancestor attended. There are two books that may help to begin your search. Your public library may have them, but you may need to search a bit farther afield by contacting the medical school at your state university.

1. American Medical Association. American Medical Directory. Chicago: American Medical Association, 1906 -.

2. Hafner, Arthur Wayne. Directory of Deceased American Physicians, 1804 – 1929: A Genealogical Guide to Over 149,000 Medical Practitioners Providing Brief Biological Sketches Drawn from the American Medical Association’s Deceased Physician Masterfile. Chicago: AMA, 1993.

The St. Louis Public Library owns selected volumes of the American Medical Directory (later called Directory of Physicians in the United States) beginning from 1909. You should also check county histories, state biographical dictionaries, and your state physicians’ licensing board. Finally, check into local or statewide medical societies, who may also have records of interest to genealogists.

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