What’s the deal with farm schedules?

Last night I searched for the farm schedule that correlated to the 1920 US Census for the Rael’s. A few sites have farm or agrarian schedules also sometimes called non population schedules. However they are very limited. I came upon this website that gave an excellent overview of what became of these records throughout the years.

Agricultural Schedules of the United States Census

Unfortunately many of them were destroyed by the government, including most of the records for 1920. My first reaction was anger– why the heck did they do that?? Clearly this is valuable family history info!!! (I know, I laugh at these moments later. Obviously the government’s daily decisions don’t include whether or not it will benefit my personal genealogy quest!) But then I remembered a couple jobs I had in which part of my job description was handling archives. Some old records were sent to storage and others were destroyed. The reality of keeping what must have been an overwhelming amount of farm records for the United States sunk in. I can see why after a certain amount of time had passed, the government would no longer have needed them. Reports of broad statistics were made, but individual farm information was destroyed.

The only surviving farm schedules for 1920 New Mexico are for Santa Fe. This doesn’t help me, but I figured I’d save the info in case it might help someone else.

The details of the Rael farm in Mangas, Socorro, New Mexico remain lost in time.


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