Knowing your ancestors' occupation gives context to their life stories and can tell you a little bit
about how they lived. Fortunately, there are plenty of records to help you identify how your ancestors made a living.
In 1850, the US Census began recording occupations. More recent censuses ask more detailed questions about a person's employer. Also, check the non-population schedules. Agriculture, Manufacturing, and Industry schedules give more details about a person's occupation. The Agriculture schedules for instance ask about acreage, livestock and crops grown on a farm. You'll see exactly what your ancestor farmed and how it compared to other farms in the neighborhood.
City and county directories list residents with their addresses and occupations. You may discover their work address here too and possibly find an advertisement for their business.
News stories, obituaries, and even wedding announcements may include information on a person's occupation. Farmers' auctions and business news can give you further details about your ancestor's living. Search the local advertisement sections for business ads.
Tax Assessments Lists
IRS Assessment lists include information about occupation and income. They also list other luxuries your ancestor may have owned.
Draft registrations asked for a person's employer. Pension records include information about a serviceman's military career and, occasionally, their post-military work and income.
Passenger lists, emigration records, and passport applications may also note a person's occupation.
For Labor Day, Ancestry's occupation records are free to search through Monday!