1860 U.S. Census
The 1860 census began on 1 June 1860. The enumeration was completed within five months. The official census population count was 31,443,321.
Questions Asked in the 1860 Census
The census asked for the number of the dwelling house and the family, in order of visitation. For each free person, it asked for his or her name, age, sex, and color; the occupation of persons over age fifteen; the value of real estate; the value of his or her personal estate; the name of the state, territory, or country of his or her birth; whether the person was married during the year; whether the person attended school during the year. It indicated persons over twenty years of age who could not read and write; and whether the person was deaf-mute, blind, insane, an “idiot,” a pauper, or a convict.
The information in the slave schedules is the same as those for 1850.
Other Significant Facts about the 1860 Census
The 1860 census was the first to ask the value of personal estates. As enumerations of districts were completed, the enumerator was instructed to make two additional copies: one to be filed with the clerk of the county court and one to be sent to the secretary of the state or territory. The original (or one of the copies) was to be sent to the Census Office for tabulation.
Enumerators were instructed to be as specific as possible concerning the state or territory of each person’s birth if in the United States, or the country of birth if foreign born. For example, designations of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales and the German states of Prussia, Baden, Bavaria, Württemberg, and Hesse-Darmstadt were preferred to Great Britain and Germany.
Research Tips for the 1860 Census
Research strategies remain the same as those suggested for the 1850 census because the information included in the 1850 and 1860 schedules is essentially the same, except for the addition of the question concerning personal estates. While the added column may be a general indicator of a person’s assets, it is doubtful that individuals were likely to disclose true figures, for fear of being taxed accordingly.
For a state-by-state listing of census schedules, see The 1790–1890 Federal Population Censuses: Catalog of National Archives Microfilm. For boundary changes and identification of missing census schedules, see Thorndale’s and Dollarhide’s Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790–1920.