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1870
Component ID: #ti1812022275

Information about the 1870 Census

The 1870 census commenced on June 1, 1870, and was taken under the provisions of the census act of May 23, 1850.1 The Secretary of Interior appointed General Francis A. Walker Superintendent of the Ninth Census on February 7, 1870.2 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.
  • The1850 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.

1 Although a Congressional committee stated that the 1860 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.

2 General Walker was one of several “experts” participating in the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee deliberations on the 1870 Census. Prior to being appointed Superintendent of the Ninth Census, Walker was Chief of the Bureau of Statistics, which then was an agency within the Treasury Department.

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