United States Census, 1860 (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Population schedules consisted of large sheets with rows and columns. The schedules were arranged by place, such as township or post office. The places were not filed in any particular order. The arrangement of families on a schedule is normally in the order in which the enumerator visited the households.
Federal census takers were asked to record information about all those who were in each household on the census day, which was 1 June. A census taker might have visited a house on a later date, but the information he collected was supposed to be about the people who were in the house on the census day. The basic census enumeration unit was the county. Each county was divided into enumeration districts, one for each enumerator. The completed forms were sent to the Census Office in the Commerce Department in Washington D.C. The 1860 census covers 80-90% of the population.
The U.S. federal census was conducted each decade from 1790-present. This information pertains to censuses conducted in 1850, 1860, and 1870.
The U.S. federal census was taken at the beginning of every decade to apportion the number of representatives that a state could send to the House of Representatives in Congress. In the absence of a national system of vital registration, many vital statistics and personal questions were asked to provide a statistical profile of the nation and its states.
Federal censuses are usually reliable, depending on the knowledge of the informant and the care of the census enumerator. Information may have been given to a census taker by any member of the family or by a neighbor. Some information may have been incorrect or deliberately falsified.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org. Source citations include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.
- 8th Decennial Census Office. "Population Schedules for the 1860 Census." NARA microfilm publication M653. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. : n.d.
Important genealogical information in the 1850-1870 censuses:
- Full name
- Age (can be used to approximate birth year)
- Whether married during the previous year
- Town, township, or post office of residence
In addition the 1870 census recorded:
- Month of birth if born during the previous year
- Month of marriage if married during the previous year
- Whether the father and mother of each person was born in a foreign country
How to Use the Records
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Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.
The U.S. federal census is the best source to quickly identify a family group and residence. Use the place of residence, and the birth state for each person along with his or her age to search for other record types. The census identifies other persons in the household and how they are related. The census may identify persons for whom other records do not exist.
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Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
"United States Census, 1860," database and digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MCGV-YWF : accessed 11 April 2012), Barbery Horton (, Licking, Ohio).