1890 Census Population: 62,947,714 1890 Census Duration: 30 Days 1890 Census Date: June 2, 1890 1890 Census States: 42 States 1890 Census Territories: 6 Territories
An act signed into law March 1, 1889 authorized the census of 1890, which was modeled after the 1880 enumeration.
The 1890 census results are difficult to research. Many of the Federal census records were destroyed in a fire that took place at the Commerce Department in Washington, DC on January 10, 1921.
There are still bits and pieces that remain. However, of the 62,979,766 people, only the records for 6,160 have survived.
Small batches of 1890 census papers have been found intact on two separate occasions: Once in 1942, during a Census Bureau office move, and again in 1953. They are tiny volumes, but they provide hope that somewhere in a crate, in a warehouse, in a basement somewhere, other bundles survived.
1890 Census Schedules
Click to View Sample from US 1890 Census of Washington D.C.
Some fragments of the 1890 census did survive, however, and they are very useful to researchers. The surviving parts include Six schedules were prepared for the 1890 census:
Schedule 1 – Population: which was similar to that used for the previous census, with a few exceptions
Schedule 2 – Union Civil War Veterans or their widows: reported the following information: 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; post office address of each person listed; disability incurred by the veteran; and any additional remarks about the veteran’s service.
Schedule 3 – Oklahoma territorial: census was taken on and after June 1, 1890. The following information is included for each person enumerated: Name of street or avenue, dwelling number in order of visitation, surname, first name, and middle name, relationship to head of household, color, gender, age at last birthday, place of birth (state or country), number of years in the United States, length of residence in Oklahoma Territory, whether naturalized, for soldiers, their company and regiment, whether able to read and whether able to write.
Schedule 4 – List of selected Delaware African-Americans: alphabetical list of 454 African Americans, noting for each: surname, first name, 1890 Enumeration District (ED) number, 1890 ED description, and occupation.
Schedule 5 – Statistics of Lutheran congregations: reproduces a list of each Lutheran church or local organization compiled by the Census Office from information submitted by officials of the Lutheran officials. The records are arranged by synod, then by State, then by locality.
Schedule 6 – Statistical information for the entire United States: which expanded to include information on the greatest number of hands employed at any time during the year, the number of hours in the ordinary work day from May to November and November to May, the average daily wages paid to skilled mechanics and laborers, months of full-and part-time operation, and machinery used.
Questions Asked in the 1890 Census
The original 1890 census enumerated people differently than ever before that time. Each family was enumerated on a separate sheet of paper. 1890 was the only year this was done.
Some of the questions answered by the 1890 census included:
Name of each person in household
Relationship to Head of Household
Personal Description – Age – Sex – Color – Birthplace – Marital Status (Single, Married, Widowed, Divorced) – Married within previous year – Month of Marriage, If married within the previous year – Deaf, dumb, blind or insane – Occupation – Sick or temporarily disabled – Maimed, crippled, bedridden or otherwise disabled – Convict – Prisoner – Homeless Child
Place of Birth – Each person’s parents
Education – Attended school in previous year – Ability to read and write in English
Home Data – Value of Real Estate
Citizenship – Number of years in US – Naturalization – Ability to speak English
Veterans – Soldier, Sailor during the Civil War
Location – Name of street and number of house – City/Village/Town/Borough – County
1890 Census Resources
You may find the following resources helpful in your research of the 1890 census data.
Although only a fragment of the population schedules remain, there are some useful parts of this census that have survived, including schedules of Union Civil War Veterans or their widows, Oklahoma territorial schedules, a list of selected Delaware African Americans, and Statistics on Lutheran Congregations.
Historical Considerations of the 1890 Census
The Industrial Revolution
Collected during the heart of the Industrial Revolution, the 1890 Census was the first to be tabulated by machine. The data was collected on separate punched cards that could be fed into a machine for processing. This dramatically reduced the amount of time needed to tabulate the data. The total population was published in only 6 weeks.
Support for National Archives
At the time of the 1921 fire that destroyed most of the census records, there was no central agency to protect federal records. Each government department was in charge of its own documents. The loss of the 1890 census records was one of the influencing factors in that led to the creation of the National Archives and Records Administration in 1934.
The U.S. population increased by 25.5 percent over the 50,189,209 persons enumerated during the 1880 Census.
There were 3 urban areas in the U.S. with over a million people New York City (1,515,301), Chicago (1,099,850) and Philadelphia (1,046,964).
The U.S. census of 1890 showed a total of 248,253 Native Americans living in the United States, down from 400,764 Native Americans identified in the census of 1850.
The 1890 census announced that the frontier region of the United States no longer existed, and that the Census Bureau would no longer track the westward migration of the U.S. population.
The census employed 175 supervisors, with one or more appointed to each state or territory, except Alaska and the Indian Territory.
Subdivisions assigned to a single enumerator were not to exceed 4,000 inhabitants. In cities designated by 1880 census results to have populations under 10,000, the enumeration was to be completed within two weeks.
Enumerators were required to collect all information required by the act by a personal visit to each dwelling and family.
For the first time, enumerators were given detailed maps to follow so they could account for every street or road and not stray beyond their assigned boundaries.
Historical events surrounding the 1890 US Census
January 1, 1892 – Ellis Island Immigration station begins processing immigrants to the United States.
The 1890 Census recorded information from 42 states and 6 territories. The new states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Washington was included, as well as the Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Alaska, Oklahoma and Indiana Territories.