1860 U.S. Census

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The United States Federal Census

This article is part of a series.
Overview of the U.S. Census
Finding and Reading U.S. Census Records
1790 U.S. Census
1800 U.S. Census
1810 U.S. Census
1820 U.S. Census
1830 U.S. Census
1840 U.S. Census
1850 U.S. Census
1860 U.S. Census
1870 U.S. Census
1880 U.S. Census
1890 U.S. Census
1900 U.S. Census
1910 U.S. Census
1920 U.S. Census
1930 U.S. Census
1940 U.S. Census
Census Indexes and Finding Aids
Using the Soundex with Census Records
Non-Population Schedules and Special Censuses
State and Local Censuses
Census Substitutes
African American Census Schedules
Reconstructed 1790 Census Schedules
Censuses of Native Americans
List of Useful Census References

This article originally appeared in "Census Records" by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Matthew Wright in The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy

The 1860 census began on 1 June 1860. The enumeration was completed within five months. The official census population count was 31,443,321.

Questions Asked in the 1860 Census

The census asked for the number of the dwelling house and the family, in order of visitation. For each free person, it asked for his or her name, age, sex, and color; the occupation of persons over age fifteen; the value of real estate; the value of his or her personal estate; the name of the state, territory, or country of his or her birth; whether the person was married during the year; whether the person attended school during the year. It indicated persons over twenty years of age who could not read and write; and whether the person was deaf-mute, blind, insane, an 'idiot,' a pauper, or a convict.

The information in the slave schedules is the same as those for 1850.

Other Significant Facts about the 1860 Census

The 1860 census was the first to ask the value of personal estates. As enumerations of districts were completed, the enumerator was instructed to make two additional copies: one to be filed with the clerk of the county court and one to be sent to the secretary of the state or territory. The original (or one of the copies) was to be sent to the Census Office for tabulation.

Enumerators were instructed to be as specific as possible concerning the state or territory of each person's birth if in the United States, or the country of birth if foreign born. For example, designations of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales and the German states of Prussia, Baden, Bavaria, Württemberg, and Hesse-Darmstadt were preferred to Great Britain and Germany.

Research Tips for the 1860 Census

Research strategies remain the same as those suggested for the 1850 census because the information included in the 1850 and 1860 schedules is essentially the same, except for the addition of the question concerning personal estates. While the added column may be a general indicator of a person's assets, it is doubtful that individuals were likely to disclose true figures, for fear of being taxed accordingly.

For a state-by-state listing of census schedules, see The 1790'1890 Federal Population Censuses: Catalog of National Archives Microfilm. For boundary changes and identification of missing census schedules, see Thorndale's and Dollarhide's Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790'1920.

Comparison of Census Information, 1790-1940

Personal Info on Census 1790 1800 1810 1820 1830 1840 1850 1860 1870 1880 1900 1910 1920 1930 1940
Name of family head only
Headcount by age, gender, ...
Standard census form
Names of all individuals
Profession or occupation
Place of birth
Attended school that year
Highest grade completed
Married that year
Read or write
Deaf, blind, insane, idiotic, ...
Real estate value
Personal estate value
Separate slave schedule
Father of foreign birth
Mother of foreign birth
Month of birth
Month of birth that year
Male citizen over 21 years
Male over 21 denied vote
Visitation number of dwelling
Visitation number of family
Street name in city
House number in city
Relationship to family head
Marital status
Month of marriage that year
No. of months unemployed
Father's birthplace sup
Mother's birthplace sup
Sickness on census day
Year of birth
No. of years present marriage
Mother how many children sup
Number of children living
Year of immigration to US
No. of years in US
Naturalization status
Months attended school

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