1860 United States Census

Record Description

Population schedules consisted of large sheets with rows and columns. The schedules were arranged by place, such as township or post office. The places were not filed in any particular order. The arrangement of families on a schedule is normally in the order in which the enumerator visited the households.

Federal census takers were asked to record information about all those who were in each household on the census day, which was 1 June. A census taker might have visited a house on a later date, but the information he collected was supposed to be about the people who were in the house on the census day. The basic census enumeration unit was the county. Each county was divided into enumeration districts, one for each enumerator. The completed forms were sent to the Census Office in the Commerce Department in Washington D.C. The 1860 census covers 80-90% of the population. 

The U.S. federal census was conducted each decade from 1790-present. This information pertains to censuses conducted in 1850, 1860, and 1870. 

The U.S. federal census was taken at the beginning of every decade to apportion the number of representatives that a state could send to the House of Representatives in Congress. In the absence of a national system of vital registration, many vital statistics and personal questions were asked to provide a statistical profile of the nation and its states.

Federal censuses are usually reliable, depending on the knowledge of the informant and the care of the census enumerator. Information may have been given to a census taker by any member of the family or by a neighbor. Some information may have been incorrect or deliberately falsified.

Record Content

Important genealogical information in the 1850-1870 censuses:

* Full name
* Age (can be used to approximate birth year)
* Sex
* Race
* Birthplace
* Occupation
* Whether married during the previous year
* Town, township, or post office of residence

In addition the 1870 census recorded:

* Month of birth if born during the previous year
* Month of marriage if married during the previous year
* Whether the father and mother of each person was born in a foreign country