The 1860 census was begun on 1 June 1860. The enumeration was to be completed within five months.
Questions Asked in the 1860 Census
For all free persons, the census asked:
- Occupation of persons over age fifteen
- Value of real estate
- Value of personal estate
- Name of state, territory, or country of birth
- Whether the person was married during the year
- 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.
Research Tips for the 1860 Census
Research strategies remain the same as those suggested for the 1850 census because information included in the 1850 and 1860 schedules is essentially the same, except for the addition of a 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.
Other Significant Facts about the 1860 Census
The 1860 census was the first to ask those being queried to reveal the value of their personal estates. As enumerations of districts were completed, enumerators were instructed to make two copies: one to be filed with the clerk of the county court, one to be sent to the secretary of the state or territory, and the third to be sent to the Census Office for tabulation.
The birthplaces of individuals were to be specific as to the state or territory in the United States and 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.
The information above is an excerpt from The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, edited by Loretto D. Szucs and Sandra H. Luebking, Chapter 5, “Research in Census Records,” by Loretto D. Szucs (page 114).