1870 United States Census

Record Description

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.

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

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 1870 census covers 80-90% of the population.

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 1870 census.

* Town/township, county and state where census was taken
* Date of enumeration and name of post office
* Dwelling number and family number
* Name of each person in household
* Age of each person in household (can be used to approximate birth year)
* Sex of each person in household
* Race of each person in household
* Occupation of each person in household
* Value of any real estate
* Value of personal property
* Birthplace
* Was father foreign born
* Was mother foreign born
* Indicate month born if child born during past year
* Indicate month married if person married during past year
* Indicate if person attended school during past year
* Is person able to read and write