The 1870 Census – A Research Guide

by | 8 Nov 2020

Census Day: 1 June 1870
Time to Complete: Five months
U.S. Population: 38.6 million

On 1 June 1870, the Bureau of the Census began taking the 9th decennial census of the United States. All responses were to reflect the individual’s status as of that census date even if their status had changed between June 1st and the day of the actual enumeration. Thus, children born after 1 June were not to be counted (although enumerators did not always follow instructions), and people who died after 1 June should still be counted.

For genealogists looking to identify immigrant ancestors, the 1870 census is the first census that indicates parents of foreign birth. A mortality schedule was also taken with the 1870 census, with a separate set of questions regarding those who died in the twelve months prior to the enumeration.

Questions Asked in the 1870 Census

  • name, age, and sex of each individual in the household
  • the month of birth, if born within the previous year
  • race (white, black, mulatto, Indian, or Chinese)
  • profession, occupation, or trade of each individual over the age of 15
  • value of any real estate
  • value of personal property
  • place of birth (state, territory, or country)
  • whether parents were “of foreign birth”
  • the month of marriage, if married within the year
  • whether attended school within the year
  • if able to read and write, if over the age of 20
  • whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, a pauper, or a convict
  • whether a male citizen over the age of 21
  • whether a male citizen over the age of 21 and the right to vote had been denied on grounds other than rebellion or other crime

1870 Census Online

Research Another US Census Year:

1940 Census | 1930 Census1920 Census | 1910 Census | 1900 census | 1890 Census | 1880 Census | 1870 Census | 1860 Census | 1850 Census

©2021 Kimberly Powell. Use of this article elsewhere without permission violates copyright. Short excerpts and links are welcome, with credit and a link back to Learn Genealogy.

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