United States Census, 1870 (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Access the records: United States Census, 1870 .
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.
For a list of records by localities currently published in this collection, select the Browse.
The U.S. federal census was conducted each decade from 1790-present. This information pertains to censuses conducted in 1850, 1860, and 1870.
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 1870 census covers 80-90% of the population.
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 for collections published in FamilySearch.org. Source citations include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.
- 9th Decennial Census Office. "Population Schedules for the 1870 Census.” NARA microfilm publication M593. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. : n.d.
Important genealogical information in the 1870 census:
- Town/township, county and state where census was taken
- Date of enumeration and name of post office
- Dwelling number and family number
- Name of each person in household
- Age of each person in household (can be used to approximate birth year)
- Sex of each person in household
- Race of each person in household
- Occupation of each person in household
- Value of any real estate
- Value of personal property
- Was father foreign born
- Was mother foreign born
- Indicate month born if child born during past year
- Indicate month married if person married during past year
- Indicate if person attended school during past year
- Is person able to read and write
How To Use The Record
Search the Collection
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the "State" category
⇒Select the "County" category
⇒Select the "Locality" category which takes you to the images
Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.
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.
Known Issues with This Collection
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
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A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
"United States Census, 1870," database and digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MWZP-RHT : accessed 11 April 2012), Robert White in household of Robert White (North Carolina, United States).