1870 Census Federal Population Schedule

The 1870 census contains records for approximately 40 million Americans. The Ninth United States Census officially began on June 1, 1870.

The 1870 Census was the first census to provide detailed information on the African-American population, only five years after the end of the Civil War and slaves were granted freedom.

The 1870 Census' population estimate was controversial, as many believed it underestimated the true population numbers, especially in New York and Pennsylvania.

Overview of the 1870 Census

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.

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 Facts

  • 1870 Census Number: 39,818,449
  • 1870 Census Day: June 1, 1870
  • 1870 Census duration: 5 months
  • 1870 Census States: 37 States
  • 1870 Census Territories: 12 Territories
  • % increase of population from 1860 to 1870: 26.6

Questions Asked in the 1870 Census

Some of the questions answered by the 1870 census included:

Example of the 1870 United States Federal Census for Drew County Arkansas
  • Save

Example of the 1870 United States Federal Census for Drew County Arkansas

  • 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 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

1870 Census Resources

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

The 1870 United States Federal Census database at Ancestry.com details about 39 million individuals enumerated in the 1870 United States Federal Census, the Ninth Census of the United States.

Additionally, the names of those listed on the population schedule are linked to actual images of the 1870 Federal Census, copied from the National Archives and Records Administration.

Download Free a US 1870 Census Extract Form 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.
  • 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.
  • This was the first census in which all 100 largest cities recorded populations of over 10,000.
  • This was the last federal census conducted using the US Marshal Service as enumerators.

Historical events surrounding the 1870 US Census

  • January of 1870 - Brooklyn Bridge construction begins.
  • November 1, 1870 - National Weather Service issues its first weather forecast predicting a windy day in Chicago.
  • October 8th, 1871 - “The Great Chicago Fire” begins
  • 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.

10 Largest Urban Places in 1870

Rank Place Population
1 New York City, NY 942,292
2 Philadelphia, PA 674,022
3 Brooklyn, NY 396,099
4 St. Louis, MO 310,864
5 Chicago, IL 298,977
6 Baltimore, MD 267,354
7 Boston, MA 250,526
8 Cincinnati, OH 216,239
9 New Orleans, LA 191,148
10 San Francisco, CA 149,473

U.S. 1870 Population by Results

True Population Total United States 38,925,598
  States Only 38,205,598
  Territories 720,000
White Population Total United States 33,589,377
  States Only 33,203,128
  Territories 44,903
African American
Total United States 4,880,009
  States Only 4,835,106
  Territories 44,903
Native American Population
(On Reservations)
Total United States 357,981
  States Only 89,957
  Territories 268,024
Native American Population
(Not on Reservations)
Total United States 25,731
  States Only 21,228
  Territories 4,503
Chinese Population Total United States 63,199
  States Only 56,124
  Territories 7,075
Japanese Population Total United States 55
  States Only 55

States Covered in the 1870 Census

1870 Census Map
  • Save

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 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.

  • Save
  • Save
  • Save
  • Save
Amazon Books
  • Save