1890 - 11th Population Census of the United States

Individual Census Records from 1790 to 1950 are maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration, not the U.S. Census Bureau.

Enumeration began on June 2, 1890, because June 1 was a Sunday. January 10, 1921, a fire in the Commerce Department building, Washington, DC, resulted in the destruction of most of the 1890 census. See newspaper article The Washington Post Washington, District of Columbia 11 Jan 1921, Tuesday Page 1 at Newspapers.com. See the National Archives 1890 Census information. According to 1890 United States Census on Wikipedia [April 2014], Some 25% of the materials were presumed destroyed and another 50% damaged by smoke and water (although the actual damage may have been closer to 15–25%). The damage to the records led to an outcry for a permanent National Archives. ... Congress authorized destruction of that list of records on February 21, 1933, and the surviving original 1890 census records were destroyed by government order by 1934 or 1935.

1890 Overview at United States Census Bureau.

Census Instructions

The decennial census has always required a large workforce to visit and collect data from households. Between 1790 to 1870, the duty of collecting census data fell upon the U.S. Marshals. A March 3, 1879 act replaced the U.S. Marshals with specially hired and trained census-takers to conduct the 1880 and subsequent censuses.

During the early censuses, U.S. Marshalls received little training or instruction on how to collect census data. In fact, it was not until 1830 that marshals even received printed shedules on which to record households' responses. The marshals often received limited instruction from the census acts passed prior to each census. 

Beginning with the 1880 census, specially hired and trained census-takers replaced the U.S. marshals. Door-to-door census by temporary census-takers was the primary method of conducting the census until the U.S. Census Bureau began mailing questionnaires to households in 1960.

As more and more households received and returned their questionnaires by mail, the role of census-taker changed. Today, the majority of households are counted by mailed questionnaires. Census-takers visit places frequented by transient households (shelters and soup kitchens, campsites, etc.) and households that do not return their mailed questionnaires (during the "Nonresponse Follow-Up" phase of the census). As a result, the "Instructions to Enumerators" provided here include the congressional acts U.S. marshalls reviewed during the early census, specially-published instructions for door-to-door census, and lastly, guides used for the limited number of personal interviews conducted during nonresponse follow-up operations.

Copied from the Census Intructions at the United States Census Bureauthat has the 1890 Instructions.

1890 U.S. Census: Where is it? | Ancestry Academy | Ancestry posted Sep 19, 2016 by Ancestry on YouTube

What happened to the 1890 census? We'll answer that question and tell you what survived and where you can find the remaining fragments.

Getting Around the Missing 1890 Census | Ancestry posted Mar 13, 2012 by Ancestry on YouTube
Many of you know that the 1890 U.S. Federal Census was mostly destroyed by fire. Crista will show you other records available to help fill in the 20 year gap between the 1880 and 1900 censuses.

  1. 1890 "Veterans Census" at the United States Census Bureau.
  2. Availability of 1890 Census at the United States Census Bureau.
  3. Use the Fort Wayne City and Allen County Directories to find working adults and compensate for the missing 1890 census.
  4. Ancestry.comblank 1890 census form
  5. Ancestry.comSearch 1890 United States Federal Census Fragment Index
  6. FindMyPast.com Free US Census 1890
  7. Use Steve Morse Census Search Tool for any census
  8. "First in the Path of the Firemen" The Fate of the 1890 Population Census, Part 1 by Kellee Blake and Part 2 from Spring 1996 National Archives Prologue Magazine now on their Genealogy Notes blog.
  9. Photo of fire results posted January 10, 2017 on United States Census Bureauon Facebook.
  10. Some local records may exist for other counties such as LaGrange County, Indiana Public Library lists they have their 1890 census records
  11. The Forgotten Federal Census of 1885 Can Be Found Online for Free discussed on Family History Daily blog
  12. Thousands of 1890 Census Records DO Still Exist: Here’s How to Find Them for Free records remain from all states alphabetically from Kentucky through Wyoming discussed on Family History Daily blog.
  13. 1897 Shirley (Woodburn) Local Census at ACGSI.org.
  14. Destruction of the 1890 Census by Jenny Ashcraft published October 14, 2019 on Newspapers.com has links to lots of interesting newspaper articles from 1890 to the present about the 1890 census.

History Lost: The Tragedy of the 1890 Census posted Jan 28, 2019 by The History Guy: History Deserves to Be Remembered on YouTube

Disaster and bureaucratic mismanagement result in the loss of an irreplaceable historical record, leading to the creation of the U.S. National Archives. The History Guy remembers the tragedy of the 1890 census. This is original content based on research by The History Guy. Images in the Public Domain are carefully selected and provide illustration. As images of actual events are sometimes not available, images of similar objects and events are used for illustration. All events are portrayed in historical context and for educational purposes. No images or content are primarily intended to shock and disgust. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Non censuram.

The 1890 US Census and the history of punchcard computing [feat. Grant of 3blue1brown fame] posted Apr 28, 2020 by Stand-up Mathson YouTube

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Page updated: July 27, 2022