Questions Asked • Census Resources • Unique Features • Historical Considerations • States Covered
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.
Click to View Sample from US 1860 Census of Cumberland County, NC
The 1860 census reflects the U.S. Population just prior to the 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 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.
Many courthouses were burned during the Civil War loosing forever many records. This makes the census records even more valuable for this time period.
Indians (Native Americans) that lived on reservations or unsettled tracks of land were not included. You can find Native American ancestors if they resided in an area that was being taxed. Only the non-Indians were being enumerated in the “Indian Territory.”
Enumerators were to make two extra copies of the original census: one for the county clerk, one for the state/territory and one for the Census office.
Freedmen of color were enumerated exactly as a free white person. There were a total of 476, 748 freedmen in the 1860 census.
1860 Census Schedules
Six schedules were prepared for the 1860 census. They included:
- Schedule 1: Free Inhabitants
- Schedule 2: Slave Inhabitants
- Schedule 3: Mortality
- Schedule 4: Production of Agriculture
- Schedule 5: Products of Industry
- Schedule 6: Social Statistics
Questions Asked in the 1860 Census
Some of the questions answered by the 1860 census included:
- Profession, occupation, or trade of each male person over 15 years of age
- Value of real estate
- Value of personal estate
- Place of birth (state, territory, or country)
- Married within the year
- Attended school within the year
- Whether able to read and write
1860 Census Resources
You may find the following resources helpful in your research of the 1860 census data.
1860 United States Federal Census database
details those persons enumerated in the 1860 United States Federal Census, the Eighth Census of the United States. In addition, the names of those listed on the population schedule are linked to the actual images of the 1860 Federal Census, copied from the National Archives and Records Administration microfilm, M653, 1438 rolls.
Download Free a US 1860 Census Extract Form
which allows you to read column headings and record information from the US Census.
Unique Features of the 1860 Census
Personal Estate Value
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, resulting in 3,189 total pages in published reports.
- 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.
States Covered in the 1860 Census
The 1860 Census recorded information from 33 states and 7 territories. The new states of Minnesota and Oregon were included, as well as the Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, Utah, Washington, Indian & Unorganized Dakota Territories.
The 33 states included in the 1860 Census were Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.
What was lost from the 1860 U.S. Census?
By the time the 1860 census data was collected for tabulation, the American Civil War had just begun, allowing census staff to only produce abbreviated reports. No major losses of records were suffered though. All census records survived.