A major gap in the U.S. Federal Census exists with most of the 1890 Census destroyed in a 1921 fire. You can trace your ancestors from 1880 to 1900, but that leaves 20 years unaccounted for. Here are a few ideas to help bridge the gap in your research.
First, if you have already researched and know some family branches did not arrive in America until after 1900, it doesn’t matter for those ancestors, they would not have been on the 1890 census in the United States. However, you might have had a great great grand uncle (not direct lineage) who did come before 1900. So know at least approximately when ancestors arrived.
Next, what you might not realize was there were portions of that census that were not destroyed. There still remains one fragment of the main population census with 6,000 names plus a special veterans and widows enumeration with 90,497 names that was completed alongside the main 1890 census.
The fragment of the 1890 census that was saved represents a few counties in certain states (Alabama, District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, and Texas). Those census page images and the index for 2,459 names to research are available on FamilySearch.org. If you located a relative, note the 1890 census was done a bit different with one complete family in a household listed per page. So make sure to check and arrow over to the next page. Only five individuals with information are per page, so if there were 8 in a household, including any boarders (which was very common) or servants, then there would be two pages. If you do locate a relative in these surviving fragments, there is a treasure chest of information.
The larger resource is the special census done of military veterans and widows of veterans. Generally, is is only Union veterans and widows, yet some Confederate soldiers were also included, so check this database even if your ancestor fought on the side of the south. Again it is FamilySearch.org which will have these full censuses. There are states and territories included listed including states of Kentucky through Wyoming in alphabetical order. Unfortunately, states Alabama through Kansas are missing.
These veterans listings cover those former soldiers in the Civil War living in a specific community or town, so there is a list with information including their name, former rank, military unit, where they live, years they served in the military and a section labeled ‘notes’ which have some interesting additional information such as handicaps. The same is true for widows of veterans, they are listed in the town along with any male veterans with a listing of who their husband was.
So well worth checking all these additional 1890 censuses to see if your relatives are there.
Photos: Herman Hollerith’ Electric Tabulating Machine used to speed adding the numbers on the census; 1890 Census for Thompson and Jones families in one household in Washington, DC and 1890 Veterans’ Census for Frederick, MD
Related FamilyTree.com genealogy blogs:
< Return To Blog