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Research Guide to the 1890 US Census


Hollerith 1890 Census Tabulator
American Stock Archive /Getty Images
Census Day: 1 June 1890
To Be Completed By: 1 July 1890
U.S. Population: 63 million
Total Cost: 11.5 million

On June 1, 1890 the Bureau of the Census began taking the 11th decennial census of the United States. Unfortunately the returns from this census were all destroyed or badly damaged in a fire in Washington, DC, in 1921. Less than 1 per cent survived, totaling 6,160 names. The following communities are partially covered by the surviving fragments of the 1890 census:

  • Alabama (Perryville beat number 11 and Severe beat number 8 in Perry County)
  • District of Columbia (Q. Thirteenth, Fourteenth, R.Q. Corcoran, Fifteenth, S.R. and Riggs streets, Johnson Avenue, and S Street)
  • Georgia (Columbus, Muscogee County)
  • Illinois (Mound Township, McDonough County)
  • Minnesota (Rockford, Wright County)
  • New Jersey (Jersey City, Hudson County)
  • New York (Eastchester, Westchester County & Brookhaven Township, Suffolk County)
  • North Carolina (South Point & River Bend Townships, Gaston County & Township No. 2, Cleveland County)
  • Ohio (Cincinnati, Hamilton County & Wayne Township, Clinton County)
  • South Dakota (Jefferson Township, Union County)
  • Texas (J.P. No. 6, Mountain Peak, and Ovilla Precinct in Ellis County; Precinct No. 5 in Hood County; No. 6 and J.P. No. 7 in Rusk County; Trinity Town and Precinct No. 2 in Trinity County; and Kaufman in Kaufman County)

1890 Special Schedule: Union Veterans & Widows
A special schedule of the 1890 federal census collected information on Union Civil War veterans and their widows including: name of the veteran, or if he did not survive, the names of both the widow and her deceased husband; the veteran's rank, company, regiment or vessel, date of enlistment, date of discharge, and length of service in years, months, and days; the post office and address of each person listed; disability incurred by the veteran; and remarks necessary to a complete statement of his term of service. Practically all of the schedules for the states Alabama through Kansas, and approximately half of those for Kentucky appear to have been destroyed, possibly by fire, before the transfer of the remaining schedules to the National Archives in 1943. The surviving Kentucky records, and those for the remaining states (Louisiana through Wyoming) and the District of Columbia are available on microfilm through the National Archives and your local Family History Center.

Questions Asked in the 1890 Census

  • street name and house number in cities
  • name, age, sex and race of each individual in the household
  • relationship of each individual to head of household
  • whether single, married, widowed, or divorced
  • if married within the census year
  • if a mother, number of children and number of those children still living
  • Civil War veteran (Union or Confederate) or widow
  • profession, occupation, or trade
  • number of months unemployed during the census year
  • place of birth (state, territory, or country)
  • father's place of birth
  • mother's place of birth
  • number of years resided in the United States, if foreign born
  • whether or not a naturalized citizen
  • number of months at school within the preceding year
  • whether able to read and write
  • whether able to speak English
  • language spoken, if not able to speak English
  • name and duration of acute or chronic disease
  • name of defect if defective in mind, sight, hearing, or speech or crippled, maimed, or deformed
  • whether prisoner, convict, homeless child, or pauper
  • whether home was owned or rented; and if mortgaged
  • if head of family is a farmer, is the farm rented, or owned
  • if farm is owned, then free or mortgage, plus post office address

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