1890 United States Census

Record Description

These collections consist of indexes and images of schedules enumerating the United States of America. The information was handwritten on pre-printed forms. The forms were divided into columns and rows. The basic census enumeration unit was the county with each county being divided into enumeration districts, one for each enumerator. The originals covered 95 to 97 percent of the population, over 62 million persons. However, a fire at the National Archives destroyed most of the 1890 census. The surviving records list 6,160 names which are mostly veterans schedules.

The U.S. federal census was conducted each decade from 1790 to the present. Federal census takers called enumerators were asked to record information about all those who were in each household on the census day, which was 1 June for the 1890 census. Enumerators were allowed to distribute schedules to households and return later to pick them up completed, but the information collected was supposed to be about the people who were in the house on the census day. The enumerator was also allowed to obtain information from the person living closest to the family about absent family members. The completed forms were sent to the Census Office in the Commerce Department in Washington D.C. 

Federal censuses are usually reliable, depending on the knowledge of the informant and the care of the census enumerator. Information may have been given to a census taker by any member of the family or by a neighbor. Some information may have been incorrect or deliberately falsified. Charges were made of fraud, including bolstering of counts by adding false names. 

Record Content

Key genealogical facts found in this collection may include:

* State, county and enumeration district where census was taken
* Date census was taken
* Full name of head of household
* Names of all persons living in household
* Was head of household a participant in the Civil War
* Relationship of person to head of household
* Race
* Gender
* Age at nearest birthday, if under 1 year, it is given in months
* Marital status (single, married, widowed or divorced)
* Married during the census year?
* Mother of how many children
* How many are still living
* Place of birth given for each member of household
* Birthplace of father of each person
* Birthplace of mother of each person
* Number of years having lived in the United States
* Naturalized citizen?
* Profession/occupation
* Able to read, write and speak English
* Ever been a prisoner, convict, homeless or a pauper

The veterans' and widows' schedules include the following information:

* State, county and district where census was taken
* Date census was taken
* Full name of surviving soldier, sailor, marine, or widow
* Rank, company, regiment or vessel
* Date of enlistment
* Date of discharge
* Length of service in years, months, and days