1860 US Census HistoryThe 1860 US Census began on June 1st, 1860 and lasted five months. The official population was 31,443,321 or a little bit smaller than the size of present day Texas. The population had grown by 36% over the 10 years since the past census.
Questions Asked on the 1860 US Census
The questions included on the 1860 US Census included:
• Name, age, sex and color of every person in the household.
• Occupation of each person over age 15.
• Value of real estate owned.
• Value of personal property owned.
• Place of birth of each person.
• Was the person married within the year.
• Did the person attend school within the year.
• Can the person read and write. (only if over age 20).
• Is the person deaf, dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, a pauper or convict
States Included in the 1860 US Census
• District of Columbia
• New Hampshire
• New Jersey
• New Mexico
• New York
• North Carolina
• North Dakota
• Rhode Island
• South Carolina
• South Dakota
1860 US Census Research Tips
The 1860 US Census is much like the 1850 US Census but it included information about personal estates for the first time. When looking at the estate information, be a bit weary of the data. Who really wants to give the government the real values of their assets? You probably got your skepticism of the government from your ancestors so they probably underestimated the estate value.
The 1860 US Census asked information about each individual in the household not just about the head of household or white male. The personal data makes the 1860 US Census very valuable in Family History research. The names of each individual and the birth place of the individual allows the migration trends to be better established and followed.
Additionally, the ages of each individual allows Family History researchers to better find vital records, which then leads to more clues in the Family History search. In 1860 most local governments did not keep vital records but religious and other organizations did. The 1860 US Census also provides previous residents of individuals which allows more source for vital records in other locations. Land ownership indicates that there should be tax or land records for individuals in which land ownership apply.
As most US Census the 1860 US Census is very helpful in pinpointing the location of an individual or family and allowing the Family Historian to find other helpful records in that location and time period to help in the research. Information in the 1860 US Census helps to:
• Differentiate families form others with the same surname
• Find out family size
• Help locate other relative with the same surname
• Give information about neighbors
• Identifies slave owners
Free men “of color” are listed as the head of household by their own surname and other slave appear by age groupings by the surname of their “owners.” The grouping of slaves by age group with their owners is also helpful because these age groupings combined with probate inventories and tax list data, makes it possible to determine other family members names and the birth order of the family.
The Revolutionary War pensioners question and the more detailed occupation questions give rich insight for Family History research. The 1860 US Census is also the first census to ask questions regarding education. This data can lead to finding more information from military records, business records, and school records all of which can be invaluable in Family History research.
The question of “insane” can lead to institutional records or guardianship records.
1860 US Census Facts
The 1860 US Census was the first to ask about estate values of households. Also census takers where instructed to be very specific on an individual’s birth location. For example they were instructed to enter Wales instead of Great Britain.