The Eighth Census: 1860
The Eighth Census of the United States was authorized by the previous census May
23, 1850 act. On the recommendation of the Secretary of the Interior, the
provisions of this act were to be "adhered to, following the requirement for the
taking of the eighth, or any subsequent census under its provisions, if no law,
therefore, was passed before January 1 of the year in which the census was
required.1" By an act of May 5, 1860, a clerical
force was provided for the census office and on June 1, 1860, and Joseph C. G.
Kennedy was appointed Superintendent.
The census office, and the position of Superintending Clerk were (for all
practical purpose) abolished in May 1862. A portion of the clerks engaged in
census work were transferred to the General Land Office, where the work of the
1860 census was completed, including the publication of a two-volume census
report, under the direction of the Commissioner of the General Land Office.
The 1860 census covered the following states:
- Dakota Territory1
- District of Columbia
- Indian Territory2
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico Territory
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- Utah Territory
- Washington Territory
Schedules for some counties are missing.
- The Dakota Territory consisted of all remaining
- The Indian Territory, which contained the present day
Oklahoma, was enumerated only for those Non-American settlers. The information
will be found at the end of the Arkansas
Information Found Within the 1860 Census
- Name of each person.
- Name of the county, parish, township, town, or city where the family
- Color (Race)
- Whether married in the last year
- Profession, occupation, or trade of each person over 15 years of age
- Value of Real Estate
- Value of Personal Estate
- Whether deaf, blind, dumb, insane, idiotic, pauper, or criminal
- Whether able to speak or speak English
- Whether the person attended school within the previous year
Genealogy Strategy for the 1860 Census
The 1860 census is very similar to the 1850 census, except that it separated
the value of real estate and the value of personal estates.
- Location of the Household
As in all census, the location of the household at the time the
census was taken becomes a valuable tool for further research allowing you to
concentrate on records of that time period in that particular location. The
1860 census will provide you the district, township, and county of your
- Establishing the Composition of a Family
Individual names are provided. No relationships were given in the
census, instructions were provided to the census taker as to which order to
enumerate a household. "The names are to be written, beginning with the father
and mother; or if either, or both, be dead, begin with some other ostensible
head of the family; to be followed, as far as practicable, with the name of
the oldest child residing at home, then the next oldest, and so on to the
youngest, then the other inmates, lodgers and borders, laborers, domestics,
- Age of Inhabitants
The 1860 census (column 13) indicates the month in which the person
was born, if born "within the year," that is between June 1, 1869 and May 31,
1870. While not an exact age, the fact that you're provided the year each
person is born will assist you in finding birth records.
- Freedmen Research
Freed men of color were enumerated identically to any other free person. There
were a total of 476,748 freedmen enumerated in the 1860 census of the United
- Tracking the Migration
The 1860 census provides the birthplace of each individual. Along with
the age of each individual this can enable the genealogist to track the
location of the family at different years in the past. The instructions
provided to the enumerators requested that they provide the initials or name
of the state, or country of each person enumerated. Some enumerators would
provide an even further breakdown, such as county or township, especially when
the birth occurred in the state of the enumeration.
The occupation of each male family member over 15 is recorded. Indication of a
farmer would point to further searching of Schedule 4, agricultural census. A
mention of a profession would indicate possible search of a professional
directory. Clergy were enumerated as well under occupation, and the
genealogist should search within the records of the denomination indicated.
The 1870 census (column 19) has a check mark for "Male Citizens of the U.S. of
21 years of age and upwards." If the person was a foreign-born citizen, this
means that he had become naturalized by 1870. Furthermore, The 1870 census
(columns 11-12) have check marks if the person's parents were "of foreign
- Real Estate
An indication of real estate value might point to land or tax records.
- Personal Estate
The personal value of an individuals estate is likely to err on the side of
less, rather then more. It is highly likely that the person being enumerated
was unlikely to provide a true net worth as they were afraid of being taxed on
the amount given.
- At School
An indication of being at school within a household might point to
local school records.
An indication of insane within a household might point to
guardianship or institutional records.1
The indication of a persons enumeration as a convict is rare,
unless the census actually finds them in the jail at the time of the census.
Furthermore, a person in jail, may be listed twice, if his home was in a
different district. Instructions given to the enumerator was to ask, or use
their own knowledge and county records as a source, in identifying those who
had been a "criminal" within the past year.
- Slave Research
Slaves for the first time were enumerated in separate schedules.
There were a total of 3,950,528 slaves enumerated in the 1860 census of the
United States3. The 1860 questionnaire relating to
slave inhabitants collected the names of slave owners; number of slaves; the
slaves color, sex, age, and whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic;
the numbers of fugitives from the state; and the number manumitted.
- Native American Research
It is possible to find your Native American ancestor in the 1860
census only if they were residing in an area being taxed. If this is the case,
then your ancestor would be enumerated as any other tax paying citizen was.
Even though there was a census of the Indian Territory it was only Non-Indians
that were enumerated.
1860 Census Forms
- Online Census Membership Programs
1860 Census Images (requires membership $$$)
- Genealogy.com's Census Images (requires membership $$$)
- Online Census Directories
- Wright and Hunt, p. 50.
- Source: Inter-University Consortium for Political and
Social Research. Study 00003: Historical Demographic, Economic, and Social
Data: U.S., 1790-1970. Anne Arbor: ICPSR.
This series consists of the original manuscript census
schedules for the 1860 population census taken on June 1, 1860. The
following information is generally recorded: dwelling house number
(numbered in order of visitation); family number (numbered in order of
visitation); name of every person whose usual place of abode on the
first day of June 1860 was in the family; description (age, sex, color -
white, black or mulatto, and profession, occupation or trade of each
person over 15 years of age); value of real estate owned (value of real
estate, and value of personal estate); place of birth (state, territory,
or country of birth); married within the year; attended school within
the year; persons over 20 years of age who cannot read or write; and
whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiot, pauper, or convict.