United States Census, 1870 (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: United States Census, 1870 .
The collection consists of an index and images of population schedules listing inhabitants of the United States in 1870. This was the ninth census conducted since 1790.
For a list of records by localities currently published in this collection, select the Browse.
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.
- "United States Census, 1870." Index. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013.
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
To search the collection by name fill in your ancestor’s name in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about those in the list to what you already know about your own ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person.
To search the collection
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection 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. Again you will need to compare the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor.
Be aware that with either search you may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination. Keep in mind:
- There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
- You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
- Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.
- If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
- Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips.
Using the Information
When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Download a copy of the record, or extract the genealogical information needed. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details. Add this new information to your records of each family. The information may also lead you to other records about your ancestors. The following examples show ways you can use the information:
- Use the estimated age to calculate a birth date.
- Use the age and residence to locate the family in church and land records.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have lived nearby.
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
- You may need to compare the information of more than one family or person to make this determination.
- Be aware that, as with any index, transcription errors may occur.
Unable to Find Your Ancestor?
- Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names.
- Search the indexes and records of nearby localities.
- Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals with the same family number.
- There is also the possibility that a family was missed in the census.
General Information About These Records
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 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.
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 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.
Known Issues with This Collection
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
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).