The 1860 census contains records for approximately 32 million Americans. The Eighth United States Census officially began on June 1, 1860.
The 1860 census reflects the U.S. Population just prior to the American Civil War. This is important because we see the family just before the war was cause for families to split from one another, great loss of life and massive migrations that followed the war.
The 1860 census is one of the most accurately named US censuses of the 1800s. This is because all of the data was actually collected in 1860.
Many previous censuses took over a year, but the 1860 census started on June 1 of that year and took only 5 months to complete.
The 1860 census contained a lot of the same questions from 1850, such as name, sex, color, real estate value, state, territory and country of birth.
Marriages that took place that year, criminal histories, physical and mental competency and slave information were also included.
Migration during the war resulted from people moving to live with family/relatives because it was saver and far from the front lines, a place to live because there was no male to farm the land/farms were destroyed and some even followed their husbands from war zone to war zone.
It was common for families to send their daughter to live with other family, while married women tried to manage farms.
If a woman lost her husband during the war, it was common for them to move back home with their father and mother.
Because of the death of many spouses during the 1860’s, you will want to be on the lookout for remarriages between 1860-1870 censuses. You might pick this up in the state census.
The 1860 census asked for information about the value of personal estates.
This information could be helpful to genealogical researcher. However, many people at that time gave false information in order to avoid paying high taxes on their personal estates.
Specific Birthplace Information
The 1860 census also included more specific birthplace information about foreign-born residents.
For example, it might say “Wales” or “Scotland” instead of “Great Britain.” Even US residents had to list a specific state or territory of birth.
Historical Considerations of the 1860 Census
The Civil War
When the results of the 1860 census returns were submitted, the country was fast approaching the beginning of the American Civil War. Therefore, the detail of public records was not as extensive originally intended.
However, the data collected served as useful information for Union field commanders. Maps were created that included important population information as well as transportation routes.
Interesting facts about the 1860 census
James Buchanan is President during the 1860 census.
The U.S. population increased by 35.6 percent from the 1850 census to the 1860 census.
1860 census took approximately $1,969,000 and 4,417 enumerators to complete the 1860 census.
The 1860 census was the first “value of personal estates” was asked.
For the specific country of birth (i.e., Great Britain, Germany), the enumerator was to be more specific: Great Britain: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Germany: Baden, Prussia, Bavaria, Wurttemberg, Hessen-Darmstadt.
Historical events surrounding the 1860 US Census
April 3, 1860 - Pony Express leaves Sacramento, CA for St. Joseph, Missouri .
April 12, 1860 - Confederate forces begin bombarding Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.
July 9, 1860 - Millard Fillmore is sworn into office as President following Zachary Taylor’s death.
November 6, 1860 - Abraham Lincoln elected 16th president.
February 9, 1861 - Jefferson Davis resigns from the Senate and becomes the provisional president of the Confederate States of America.
January 1, 1863 - Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, proclaiming the freedom of the 3.1 million slaves in the Confederacy.
June 22, 1865 - The last shot of the American Civil War is fired. The last Confederate general surrenders his troops on June 23, 1865.