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Overheard on the Message Boards: Defective Schedules
by Rhonda R. McClure

Each week Rhonda answers a question from the GenForum message boards and gives her expert answer here. We'd love to hear anything you have to add. Go ahead and leave your comments on GenForum with the original message.

July 18, 2002
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Q: I heard there is a special 1880 census of persons in asylums, prisons, etc., called the DDD. I can't recall what each D stands for, but I think one of them is for "Disabled". How does one get access to that census? Is it indexed in any way? -- Jenny

A: The official name of the 3D schedule, or the "Defective Schedules" is the "Defective, Dependent and Delinquent Classes" schedule. As the name implies, this schedule enumerates those who had some type of problem, which is enumerated in the main 1880 census. The individuals found in the 3D schedule are those who had a check mark under the column asking if the person being enumerated is "blind, deaf and dumb, idiotic, insane, maimed, crippled, bedridden or otherwise disabled."

Many people do not like to think about the 3D schedule, as it implies that their ancestors were not perfect. Many family members would prefer that we not pursue anyone who has the potential to appear in such an enumeration, either.

The 3D Schedule offers a great deal of information.

A Look at the 3D Schedule

The 3D schedule is actually seven separate schedules. Each schedule addresses a different disability or situation:

  • Insane
  • Idiots
  • Deaf-Mutes
  • Blind
  • Homeless Children
  • Inhabitants in Prison
  • Pauper and Indigent

It is possible for an individual to be enumerated on more than one schedule. For instance, someone who is both blind and deaf would have been enumerated in the Deaf-Mutes schedule as well as the Blind Schedule.

Each schedule has questions specific to the ailment or issue. For instance, on the Insane schedule, there are questions about the nature of their disease which includes "mania, melancholia, paresis (general paralysis), dementia, epilepsy or dipsomania." There are also questions as to total number of attacks and age of the first attack.

The Homeless Children schedule offers a lot of information about the child, but also about the family from which the family comes. While the children were living in institutions designed including poorhouses and asylums, it was possible that the child's family lived elsewhere. Also there were questions as to whether or not the child's father and/or mother were deceased.

Finding the Schedules

Finding the 3D schedules may require a bit of sleuthing. They are not always available on microfilm. The Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana has some of them available on microfilm. You would also want to search the Family History Library Catalog to see if the ones you need are available.

If they are not available through your library or one of those mentioned above, then you need to turn to local sources. Visit the state and county Web site through the USGenWeb Project. They may be able point you in the right direction.

You will want to search on the official title of the schedule you are looking for through a general search engine (such as Google). Doing this revealed where some of them are housed for various states.

Another place to look is the state historical society or the state archives. They are charged with collecting records on the inhabitants of the state. In some instances they even have original enumeration books from past censuses, though these are fragile and seldom used. You might try searching on the Internet to see if these repositories are online. If you are lucky they may have an online catalog of their holdings. At the very least you will learn how to contact someone at the repository.

Contacting Repositories

It will be to your benefit when you contact the repository to be as complete as possible with your request. While they will be unable to do the research for you, the more specific you can make your question the less there is a chance of a misunderstanding.

Instead of asking for the 3D schedules or the Defective Schedules, be sure to ask specifically about the schedule in which you anticipate finding your ancestor. I would suggest asking if they have the Deaf-Mute Schedule or Insane Schedule of the "Defective, Dependent and Delinquent Classes" enumeration taken during the 1880 census year. It would also help if you know what county you were looking for.

If your ancestor was in an institution and you know which one, you could also mention the name of the institution. Those working in the repository may be familiar with other records that might be of assistance to you. Remember, though, that institution records of this nature are often sealed and available only through special requests and to certain individuals, such as next of kin. You may be required to show proof of relationship to gain access to some of the records. This is not true of the 3D schedule, though if the state archives or historical society has it, you may find that you need to hire a professional genealogist living or researching in that area to do the work on your behalf.

In Conclusion

The Defective Schedules are a fascinating look into the lives of those who were going through some difficult times. The insight into the life of the individual brings a new meaning and understanding to why they perhaps disappeared from the family or are just "not talked about."

See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at

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