The census of 1890 was taken, under the supervision of Robert P. Porter,14
according to an act of March 1, 1889, and modeled after that used for the 1880
The enumeration began on June 2, 1890, because June 1 was a Sunday. The census
employed 175 supervisors, with one or more appointed to each state or territory,
exclusive of Alaska and Indian territory. Each subdivision assigned to an
enumerator was not to exceed 4,000 inhabitants. Enumeration was to be completed
in cities with populations under 10,000 (according to the 1880 Census results)
was to be completed within 2 weeks. Enumerators were required to collect all the
information required by the act by a personal visit to each dwelling and family.
As in 1880, experts and special agents were hired to make special enumerations
of manufactures,15 Indians living within the jurisdiction of the United States,
and a separate enumeration of Alaska. Furthermore, the schedule collecting
social statistics was withdrawn from enumerators; the work of obtaining
statistics concerning mines and mining, fisheries, churches, education,
insurance, transportation, and wealth, debt, and taxation, also was conducted by
experts and special agents.
14 Robert P. Porter was appointed as Superintendent of Census by the President
on April 17, 1889. He resigned the position on July 31, 1893.
15 In 1890, the manufactures schedules were withdrawn from the general
enumeration for 1,042 "important" manufacturing centers (opposed to 279 in
1880). Special agents were responsible for collecting the detailed data in these
Robert B. Porter served as Superintendant of Census until his resignation on
July 31, 1893. On October 3, 1893, Congress enacted a law that directed
census-related work to continue under the direction of the Commissioner of
Labor. On March 2, 1895, a further act of Congress closed the census office and
transferred the unfinished work to the office of the Secretary of the Interior,
where it continued until
July 1, 1897.16
The results of the 1890 Census are contained in 25 volumes, plus a three-part
compendium, statistical atlas, and an abstract. The complete results from the
special enumeration of survivors of the Civil War were not published (the
schedules of which were turned over to the Bureau of Pensions); however, the
special inquiry on Schedule 1 (general population schedule) regarding Union and
Confederate veterans were published in the report on population.
The 1890 census was destroyed by fire in 1921, and very little of it remains
(approximately 6160 persons). As such, information for it is very limited. The
following fragments remain:
- Perryville Beat No. 11
- Severe Beat No. 8
- District of Columbia
- Q. Thirteenth
- R. Q. Corcoran
- S.R. and Riggs Streets
- Johnson Avenue
- S Street
- New Jersey
- New York
- Westchester County
- Suffolk County
- North Carolina
- Gaston County
- Cleveland County
- Hamilton County
- Clinton County
- South Dakota
- Ellis County
- J.P. #6
- Mountain Peak
- Hood County
- Rusk County
- Trinity County
- Kaufman County
Information Found Within the 1890 Census
- Name of each person.
- Name of the county, parish, township, town, or city where the family
- Color (Race)
- Whether married in the last year
- Profession, occupation, or trade of each person over 15 years of age
- Value of Real Estate
- Whether deaf, blind, dumb, insane, idiotic, pauper, or criminal
- Whether able to speak or speak English
- Whether the person attended school within the previous year
- Birthplace of father and mother
Genealogy Strategy for the 1890 Census
- Location of the Household
As in all census, the location of the household at the time the
census was taken becomes a valuable tool for further research allowing you to
concentrate on records of that time period in that particular location. The
1890 census will provide you the district, township, and county of your
ancestor. It is also the first census to provide the name of the street and
house number in urban areas.
- Establishing the Composition of a Family
The 1890 census identified the relationship to the head of household of
other household residents.
- Age of Inhabitants
The 1890 census indicates the month in which the person was born,
if born "within the year," that is between June 1, 1869 and May 31, 1870.
While not an exact age, the fact that you're provided the year each person is
born will assist you in finding birth records.
- Tracking the Migration
The 1890 census provides the birthplace of each individual along with
the birthplaces of each parent for that person, making it much easier to track
the origin of a family. Genealogists should always be cautious of any
information provided a census taker, and realize that many ancestors for their
own reasons would not provide accurate answers to this type of a question due
to the prejudices of the time.
The occupation of each family member over 15 is recorded. A mention of a
profession would indicate possible search of a professional directory. Clergy
were enumerated as well under occupation, and the genealogist should search
within the records of the denomination indicated.
The 1890 census indicate the person's parents' birthplaces.
- Real Estate
An indication of real estate value might point to land or tax records.
- At School
An indication of being at school within a household might point to
local school records.
An indication of insane within a household might point to
guardianship or institutional records.1
The indication of a persons enumeration as a convict is rare,
unless the census actually finds them in the jail at the time of the census.
Furthermore, a person in jail, may be listed twice, if his home was in a
different district. Instructions given to the enumerator was to ask, or use
their own knowledge and county records as a source, in identifying those who
had been a "criminal" within the past year.
- Native American Research
It is possible to find your Native American ancestor in the 1890
census only if they were residing in an area being taxed. If this is the case,
then your ancestor would be enumerated as any other tax paying citizen was.
Even though there was a census of the Indian Territory, nobody residing in
this area was enumerated.
- Parents Birthplace Location
The parents birthplace location is provided.
1890 Census Forms
- Online Census Membership Programs
1890 Census Images (requires membership $$$)
- Genealogy.com's Census Images (requires membership $$$)
- Online Census Directories
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