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Genealogy Gazette

Volume 7, Number 13
Mountain Press, P.O. Box 400, Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377, 1-423-886-6369
July 22, 2015
Publisher's Notes
In this article we discuss the 1890 Census. Most people will tell you that the 1890 Census was destroyed in a fire. While this is true for the population schedules, there is still some information remaining that is very valuable to the researcher. Who knows, the community information that is still available might just help you find those missing puzzle pieces to your genealogy search.  
Thank you,
James L. Douthat
Mountain Press
1890 Census
We have all heard that the 1890 Census does not exist. This is true in part, but not totally. Let’s look at the real facts of the situation. On June 2, 1890 officially the 1890 Census was taken by all of the Census Takers around the nation. We all know that it was not accomplished in one day, but that is the official date for the Census. These records were then tabulated by machine for the first time in our history. This process speeded up the tabulations greatly as it took eight years to tabulate the 1880 Census and only one year for the 1890.
The questions ask on this census would have given most genealogist a great boost, if it had survived. I like the question about their ability to speak English, and, if unable, other languages or dialects spoken. This would have been a great clue of background and how long they had been in America. Another one of those questions, also found on other census, is concerning the mother of how many children, and number now living. With infant mortality at such a high rate at this time, it would be nice to know about some of the children that died. Did they have names recorded in the family Bible as births, but not as deaths? This happened frequently as the mother was the one usually that recorded in the Bible. For various reasons, she might have been too busy to record all events.
For the first time in history, the material was compiled using a method invented by Herman Hollerith. The date was entered on a machine readable medium, punched cards and then tabulated by machine. Only after six months it was announced that the population of the United States was 62,947,714 persons.
Then it happened on January 10, 1921, a fire in the basement of the Commerce Building in Washington, D.C. which destroyed almost 25% of the population schedules of the census. When the final survey was taken, another 50% of the remaining pages were damaged by smoke and water. The really important outcome of this fire was a public outcry for the creation of a permanent National Archives. The downside of all of this came in December 1932 when the Chief Clerk of the Bureau of the Census sent a list of materials to be destroyed to the Librarian of Congress. In this list were those pages of the 1890 that survived and the Librarian did not accept the Census records. Therefore, on February 21, 1933, Congress authorized the destruction of the surviving records. It can be noted that the 1800 and 1810 enumerations were also destroyed at some point.
We all know the above, let’s look at the upside of the 1890 Census. There are a few pages of the original that have survived with only 6160 names surviving. The material that has survived for the most part is the Union Soldiers and Widows enumeration. In this collection there are over 75,000 names that have survived, however all of the records from Alabama to Kentucky were destroyed completely. If you are interested in a particular section of the country, go to the National Archives and check out the 1890 census material. There they will list the counties per state that have some information on these records still available. You can also check with you local library to see if they have a print out of these records.
The big plus for the 1890 census is that most all of the information on the communities has survived. There are volumes of this material available in some of the larger local libraries, if they have been able to keep this kind of material. The National Archives has 42 rolls of this information available as well.
What has survived is of great interest to the local historians. The remaining volumes will give a great look into the daily life of your community at the time of the census. Just as an example, if you are looking into the various churches in a community you will find chart after chart on the size of the church building, the seating capacity, the houses owned by the various church and the number of members. If you are doing research on the background of the churches in the area, this information is worth its weight in gold. You know what churches are there at the time and the size and capacity of them. You do not have to rely on the “ministerial guess-to-ment” on the size and figures. You can identify where your ancestors fit in the community with much of the information. In these records, there are medical charts, economical charts, business, agricultural and any other type of business of interest. At the time of publication of these records, each member of congress was allowed to have a set placed where ever they wanted them. Many of the larger libraries around the country have had or still have their set.
Just as a side note, in many of these larger libraries you can find information on the other census records where a compiled selection is concerned. It is good to check these out as well, especially if you involved in writing a community or even a family history. Don’t just throw up your hands and say there is nothing of the 1890 Census out there. There is no population schedule left, but there is a world of other types of information available from this report.
Happy Hunting!
New Books

Hickman County, TN - Bible, Family and Tombstone Records
WPA Records  

Hickman County, TN Cemetery and Bible Records - Volume 2
Includes entries not included in the original records  

1900 Directory of Virginia Teachers
Contains over 7,000 teacher names  

1919 State Board of Education of Virginia
Contains over 7,000 teacher names  





If you have any questions or suggestions for future editions, please email us at jimd@mountainpress.com.