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1870 Census of Population and Housing

The 1870 census commenced on June 1, 1870, and was taken under the provisions of the census act of May 23, 1850. [Although a Congressional committee stated that the1860 Census had been the most complete census that any Nation has ever had, it was recognized that the 1850 act was inadequate to meet the changing conditions in which the 1870 Census would need to be conducted. A special committee of the U.S. House of Representatives (Second Session, Forty-First Congress) investigated and reported on the need for a new census act. The committee's report was submitted as a bill on January 18, 1870. This bill was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, but defeated in the Senate, compelling the use of the 1850 Census act.] The Secretary of Interior appointed General Francis A. Walker Superintendent of the Ninth Census on February 7, 1870. Although the 1870 Census was under the 1850 act, a new bill approved on May 6, 1870, made the following changes:

  • The marshals were to submit the returns from schedule 1 (free inhabitants) to the Census Office by September 10, 1870. All other schedules were to be submitted by October 1, 1870.
  • The 1850 law authorizing penalties for refusing to reply to the inquiries was expanded to apply to all inquiries made by enumerators.

Redesigned schedules used for 1870 and the omission of a slave schedule made possible several additional inquiries as follows:

  • Schedule No.1 General Population Schedule. This schedule collected data from the entire population of the United States.
  • Schedule No.2 - Mortality. This schedule collected data on persons who died during the year. In addition to the 1860 inquiries, inquiries were modified to include Schedule 1's additions to collect data on parentage and to differentiate between Chinese and American Indians. Inquiries concerning free or slave status and number of days ill were discontinued.
  • Schedule No.3 - Agriculture. The 1860 inquiries were used with additional requests for (1) acreage of woodland, (2) production of Spring and Winter wheat, (3) livestock sold for slaughter, (4) total tons of hemp produced, (5) total wages paid, (6) gallons of milk sold, (7) value of forest products, and (8) estimated value of all farm productions.
  • Schedule No. 4 Products of Industry. Using the 1860 schedule as a basis, additional information was requested on (1) motive power and machinery, (2) hands employed by sex and specified age groups, (3) total annual salaries paid, and (4) time of full-and part-time operation.
  • Schedule No.5 - Social Statistics. The 1860 schedule was modified to incorporate the questions on (1) bonded and other debt of counties, cities, towns, and townships, parishes, and boroughs, (2) pauperism and crime by race (native black and native white); (3) number of church organizations and church buildings; (4) number of teachers and students; (5) kinds of schools, libraries, and taxes, by type.
The 1870 enumeration was completed on August 23, 1871. The work of compiling the census data, a portion of which was tallied using a machine invented by Charles W. Seaton, was completed in 1872. (quoted from Census Bureau description)

For online access to the 1870 data, please go to the Historical Census browser.

Return to federal census page

Publications for 1870 Census

Volume 1: The statistics of the population of the United States, embracing the tables of race, nationality, sex, selected ages, and occupations. To which are added the statistics of school attendance and illiteracy, of schools, libraries, newspapers, periodicals, churches, pauperism and crime, and of areas, families, and dwellings...

I 10.5:1 (GOVPUB US)
Serial Set 1473, H.misdoc.44 (NORBASE OVER)
EBD I1005-1 (Microfiche, ask at the desk)
Online at Census Bureau PDF or ZIP

Volume 2: The vital statistics of the United States, embracing the tables of deaths, births, sex, and age, to which are added the statistics of the blind, the deaf, and dumb, the insane, and the idiotic...

I 10.5:2 (GOVPUB US)
Serial Set 1474, H.misdoc.45 (NORBASE)
EBD I1005-2 (Microfiche, ask at the desk)
Online at Census Bureau PDF or ZIP

Volume 3: The statistics of the wealth and industry of the United States, embracing the tables of wealth, taxation and public indebtedness...

I 10.5:3 (GOVPUB US)
Serial Set 1475, H.misdoc.46 (NORBASE OVER)
EBD I1005-3 (Microfiche, ask at the desk)
Online at Census Bureau PDF or ZIP

Statistical Atlas of the United States based on the results of the Ninth Census in 1870 with contributions from many eminent men of science and several departments of the government...

I 10.2: AT 6/1 (GOVPUB US OVER)
EBD I1002-1 (Microfiche, ask at the desk)
Online at the Library of Congress

A compendium of the Ninth Census (June 1, 1870) compiled persuant to a concurrent resolution of Congress

I 10.2:C73 (GOVPUB US)
Serial Set 1476, H.misdoc.47 (NORBASE)
Online at Census Bureau PDF or ZIP

Annual Report of Superintendent on 9th Census

Serial Set 1436, H.rp.3 (NORBASE)
EBD I1001-1 (Microfiche, ask at the desk)

Ninth census, U.S., 1870: Instructions to assistant marsals, Act of May 23, 1850

EBD I1002-4 (Microfiche, ask at the desk)

Return to federal census page