Questions Asked  •  Census Resources  •  Unique Features  •  Historical Considerations  •  States Covered

1870 Census Population: 39,818,449
1870 Census Duration: 5 months
1870 Census Date: June 1, 1870
1870 Census States: 37 States
1870 Census Territories: 12 Territories

The 1870 census started on June 1, 1870 and it was taken over a 5-month time period.  Each person was recorded in the 1870 census according to their place of residence on June 1, 1870, regardless of when the enumerators actually questioned those people.

The enumerators were required to number the records according to the order in which they visited each residence. Birthdays were also recorded in a more accurate way, especially for children who weren’t yet one year old. Ages were recorded as fractions.

US 1870 Census of Haywood County, TN
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Click to View Sample from US 1870 Census of Haywood County, TN

For example, a child who was 3 months old was recorded as 3/12. Sex, color, profession, real estate ownership, literacy level and mental and physical competency levels of each person were also recorded in the 1870 census.

For the specific country of birth (i.e. Germany), the enumerator was to be more specific: Baden, Prussia, Bavaria, Wurttemberg, Hessen-Darmstadt.

President Abraham Lincoln enacted the Emancipation Proclamation, as of Jan. 1, 1863, all slaves were free. This is the first census where those nameless persons on the slave schedules are now free and listed by name and age.

The war had liberated nearly four million slaves and at the same time created the challenge of establishing a new social order based on freedom and racial equality.

Enumerators were to make two extra copies of the original census: 1) one for the county clerk 2) one for the state/territory 3) Census office.

1870 Census Schedules

Five  schedules were  prepared for the 1870 census. They included:

  • Schedule 1: General Population
  • Schedule 2: Mortality
  • Schedule 3: Agriculture
  • Schedule 4: Products of Industry
  • Schedule 5: Social Statistics

Questions Asked in the 1870 Census

Some of the questions answered by the 1870 census included:

  • Name of each person in household
  • Personal Description
    – Age
    – Sex
    – Color
    – Birthplace
  • Married within previous year
    – Month of Marriage, If married within the previous year
    – Deaf, dumb, blind or insane
    – Occupation
  • Education
    – Attended school in previous year
    – Ability to read and write in English
  • Home Data
    – Value of Real Estate
  • Location
    – City/Village/Town/Borough
    – County
  • Value of Personal Estate

1870 Census Resources

You may find the following resources helpful in your research of the 1870 census data.

1870 United States Federal Census database

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at details those persons enumerated in the 1870 United States Federal Census, the Ninth Census of the United States. In addition, the names of those listed on the population schedule are linked to the actual images of the 1870 Federal Census, copied from the National Archives and Records Administration microfilm.

Download Free a US 1870 Census Extract Form

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which allows you to read column headings and record information from the US Census.

Unique Features of the 1870 Census

Parental Birth

One of the features of the 1870 census is that it was the first census to place emphasis on parental birth in cases where parents were born outside the United States. That means that the census can be used to accurately track immigrants back to their countries of origin.


Immigrants who became naturalized US citizens are also listed in the 1870 census, which means that they may also be mentioned in court documents of the time.

The immigrants’ colors were also indicated with single letters in the following way: White (W), Black (B), Chinese (C), Indian (I), Mulatto (M)

Historical Considerations of the 1870 Census

Civil War Surviviors

The 1870 census identified survivors of the Civil War. Therefore, genealogy research can be cross referenced between the census and military records of the time. If a person was in the military and is not listed in the census, they may have died in the war.

According to “Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses 1790-1920,” many people from the southern states were not listed accurately in the 1870 census.

Interesting facts about the 1870 census

  • Ulysses S. Grant is President during the 1870 census.
  • The U.S. population increased by 26.6 percent from the 1860 census to the 1870 census.
  • 1870 census took roughly $3,421,000 and 6,530 enumerators to complete the 1870 census, producing 3,473 total pages in published reports.
  • The 1870 census was the first census after the Civil War and the end of slavery
  • The 1870 census was the first census to list all persons including former slaves as individuals.

Historical events surrounding the 1870 US Census

  • October 8th, 1871 – “The Great Chicago Fire” begins
  • January of 1870 – Brooklyn Bridge construction begins.
  • November 1, 1870 – National Weather Service issues its first weather forecast predicting a windy day in Chicago.
  • March 1, 1872 – Yellowstone becomes America’s first National Park.
  • August 29, 1877 – Brigham Young, first governor of the Utah Territory and founder of Salt Lake City, dies.
  • December 7, 1877 – Thomas Edison demonstrates the phonograph in the offices of Scientific American.

States Covered in the 1870 Census

1870 Census Map
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1870 Census Map

The 1870 Census recorded information from 37 states and 12 territories.  The new states of West Virginia, Nebraska, Kansas and Nevada were included, as well as the Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Colorado, Idaho, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Dakota and Indian Territories.

The 37 states included in the 1870 Census were AlabamaArkansasCaliforniaConnecticutDelaware, FloridaGeorgiaIllinoisIndianaIowaKentuckyKansas, LouisianaMaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMinnesota, MississippiMissouriNebraska, New HampshireNew JerseyNew YorkNevada, North CarolinaOhioOregon, PennsylvaniaRhode IslandSouth CarolinaTennesseeTexas, VermontVirginiaWest Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.

What was lost from the 1870 U.S. Census?

All census records survived.

Other State Census Records

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