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.
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 1870 census can be used to accurately track immigrants back to their countries of origin.
Immigrants – 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.
States Covered in the 1870 Census
The states and territories covered in the census were: Alabama, Arizona Territory, Arkansas, California, Colorado Territory, Connecticut, Dakota Territory, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho Territory, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana Territory, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico Territory, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah Territory, Vermont, Virginia, Washington Territory, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming Territory
Resources for the 1870 Census
Visit the following resources for more information about the 1870 census: