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 1870 Census

(c) Linda Haas Davenport (Updated 2007)

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The 1870 Census was completed under the same rules and regulations as the 1850 and 1860 Censuses. The Census office was opened prior to the census and closed after the count was complete. The same number of copies, the same procedures and the same offices were involved.

As with the 1850 and 1860 census we are looking at either a copy of a copy of the original schedules or a copy of the original schedules.



State ______ County _____ Township _______ P.O. ______ Call No ______

1870 Census Schedule


The example above is from an older abstract form. Many newer forms are available, many on-line. The top of the form contains information on: Page #, State, County, City, Enumeration Date. The body of the schedule contains columns as follows: Dwelling house numbered in the order visited; Families number in order of visitation; The Name of every person whose place of abode on the first day of June 1870, was in this family; Age at last birth-day. If under 1 year give months in fractions; Sex; Color-White, Black, Mulato, Chinese, Indian; Profession, Occupation or Trade of each male person over 15 years of age; Value of real estate owned; Value of Personal Estate; Father of Foreign born; Mother of Foreign Born; If born within the year state month; Attended School within the year; Cannot read; Cannot write; Whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict; Male Citizen of US of 21 years of age upward; Male Citizen of US of 21 years of age and upwards where rights to vote is denied on other grounds than rebellion or other crime.

The Enumeration Date for the 1870 Census was 1 Jun 1870 with 5 months to complete the census. Watch for the difference between the actual date and the Enumeration Date.

The 1870 Census has less questions than the 1880 onward census records. This was the first census to ask if a person's parents were foreign born. Although the birthplace is not listed at least a clue is given for new immigrants. If a Y or check mark is found in these columns then it's time to check immigration lists, ships passenger lists, etc. The other new question was "Is the person eligible to vote". This clue will lead to voter rolls, deed records, etc.

This is the 1st census after the Civil War. This census identifies the survivors of the Civil War and many "yours, mine and ours" families. This census should be carefully compared with the 1860 census to spot those family members missing. And, this is the first census that took place after the great migrations following the Civil War. Many men returned home to find their homes, farms or businesses in ruins. Many men who had never been out of their own "neighborhoods" had seen a lot of country during their Civil War travels and they were ready to start over in new places, usually places that they had seen during the War.

Check all court records in the county from 1860-1870 for southern ancestors. A lot of land was taken by the North after the Civil War and slaves were freed. This caused an unusual amount of court battles and records.

Don't neglect to comb each item on the census for the clues they give you. It might be extremely difficult to locate your family on the 1860 census records. So many died, moved and remarried that finding them in the 1860 census is not always an easy task. Be sure you have information on all neighbors from this census and don't neglect your standard research in land records, wills, probate, court records etc.

The same additional Schedules for Industry, Agriculture, Mortality and Social Satiates were made for this census. If at all possible be sure to track these down for the additional information they can give you.

This is the first schedule that shows Free Families of Color - those people who were listed on the Slave schedules in the past by nothing except age groupings are found on this census listed by name. Anyone researching African-Americans should comb every piece of paper in the local courthouses. The "carpet baggers" in southern states helped freed slaves to register their "real names" and walked them through recording deeds to land that was given to them. By combining the information for this census with earlier deeds that transferred ownership of slaves (most showing the first name and usually a description) families can be sorted and pedigrees begun. And, don't skip researching all records for the FREEDMAN BUREAU. Many, many former slaves joined the bureau expecting to receive money and land. These records can contain nothing but the slaves' name up to a lot of family information.

There are very, very few indexes for the 1870 census. Although this is an on-going process it is slow. Check with your local genealogical society, local genealogical library, LDS and if you are on-line the Ancestry site.

The 1870 Census is on 1,748 rolls of Microfilm. Number M593. Counties believed to be missing are: Kootenai ID; Arapahoe KS, Archer, Baylor, Concho, Edwards, Hardeman, Knox, Taylor, Wichita and Wilbarger TX; Benton, Columbia and San Juan WA.


As with any of my essays I appreciate any corrections, additional information or comments. [an error occurred while processing this directive]


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