1890 Census Federal Population Schedule

The 1890 census contains records for approximately 62 million Americans. An act signed into law March 1, 1889 authorized the census of 1890, which was modeled after the 1880 enumeration.

The Eleventh United States Census officially began on June 2, 1890 and was taken over the course of 30 days.

Overview of the 1890 Census

The 1890 census results are difficult to research.  Many of the Federal census records were destroyed in a fire that took place at the Commerce Department in Washington, DC on January 10, 1921.

There are still bits and pieces that remain. However, of the 62,979,766 people, only the records for 6,160 have survived.

The surviving fragments consists of 1,233 pages or pieces, including enumerations for Alabama, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, and Texas.

Small batches of 1890 census papers have been found intact on two separate occasions: Once in 1942, during a Census Bureau office move, and again in 1953.

They are tiny volumes, but they provide hope that somewhere in a crate, in a warehouse, in a basement somewhere, other bundles survived.

1890 Census Facts

  • 1890 Census Number:  62,947,714
  • 1890 Census Day:  June 2, 1890
  • 1890 Census duration:  1 month+
  • 1890 Census States: 42 States
  • 1890 Census Territories: 6 Territories

Questions Asked in the 1890 Census

The original 1890 census enumerated people differently than ever before that time. Each family was enumerated on a separate sheet of paper. 1890 was the only year this was done.

Some of the questions answered by the 1890 census included:

Example of the 1890 United States Federal Census for Perry County Alabama
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Example of the 1890 United States Federal Census for Perry County Alabama

  • Name of each person in household
  • Relationship to Head of Household
  • Personal Description
    – Age
    – Sex
    – Color
    – Birthplace
    – Marital Status (Single, Married, Widowed, Divorced)
    – Married within previous year
    – Month of Marriage, If married within the previous year
    – Deaf, dumb, blind or insane
    – Occupation
    – Sick or temporarily disabled
    – Maimed, crippled, bedridden or otherwise disabled
    – Convict
    – Prisoner
    – Homeless Child
  • Place of Birth
    – Each person’s parents
  • Education
    – Attended school in previous year
    – Ability to read and write in English
  • Home Data
    – Value of Real Estate
  • Citizenship
    – Number of years in US
    – Naturalization
    – Ability to speak English
  • Veterans
    – Soldier, Sailor during the Civil War
  • Location
    – Name of street and number of house
    – City/Village/Town/Borough
    – County

1890 Census Schedules

On January 10, 1921, a fire in the Commerce Department building, Washington, DC, resulted in the destruction of most of the 1890 census, to the woe of researchers ever since.

Some fragments of the 1890 census did survive, however, and they are very useful to researchers. The surviving parts include Six schedules were prepared for the 1890 census:

  • Schedule 1 - Population: which was similar to that used for the previous census, with a few exceptions
  • Schedule 2 - Union Civil War Veterans or their widows: reported the following information: name of the veteran (or if he did not survive, the names of both the widow and her deceased husband); the veteran's rank, company, regiment or vessel, date of enlistment, date of discharge, and length of service in years, months, and days; post office address of each person listed; disability incurred by the veteran; and any additional remarks about the veteran's service.
  • Schedule 3 - Oklahoma territorial: census was taken on and after June 1, 1890. The following information is included for each person enumerated: Name of street or avenue, dwelling number in order of visitation, surname, first name, and middle name, relationship to head of household, color, gender, age at last birthday, place of birth (state or country), number of years in the United States, length of residence in Oklahoma Territory, whether naturalized, for soldiers, their company and regiment, whether able to read and whether able to write.
  • Schedule 4 - List of selected Delaware African-Americans: alphabetical list of 454 African Americans, noting for each: surname, first name, 1890 Enumeration District (ED) number, 1890 ED description, and occupation.
  • Schedule 5 - Statistics of Lutheran congregations: reproduces a list of each Lutheran church or local organization compiled by the Census Office from information submitted by officials of the Lutheran officials. The records are arranged by synod, then by State, then by locality.
  • Schedule 6 - Statistical information for the entire United States: which expanded to include information on the greatest number of hands employed at any time during the year, the number of hours in the ordinary work day from May to November and November to May, the average daily wages paid to skilled mechanics and laborers, months of full-and part-time operation, and machinery used.

1890 Census Resources

You may find the following resources helpful in your research of the 1890 census data.

1890 United States Federal Census Fragment database at Ancestry.com consists of 1,233 pages or pieces in the surviving 1890 United States Federal Census, the Eleventh Census of the United States.

Additionally, the names of those listed on the population schedule are linked to actual images of the 1890 Federal Census, copied from the National Archives and Records Administration.

There have been attempts at filling in the missing information from the 1890 census. For example, Ancestry.com features an 1890 Census Substitute, which may be in helpful to your research.

Download Free a US 1890 Census Extract Form which allows you to read column headings and record information from the US Census.

Unique Features of the 1890 Census

Family Enumerations

The original 1890 census enumerated people differently than ever before that time. Each family was enumerated on a separate sheet of paper. 1890 was the only year this was done.

Surviving Schedules

Although only a fragment of the population schedules remain, there are some useful parts of this census that have survived, including schedules of Union Civil War Veterans or their widows, Oklahoma territorial schedules, a list of selected Delaware African Americans, and Statistics on Lutheran Congregations.

Frontier Migration

The 1890 census announced that the frontier region of the United States no longer existed, and that the Census Bureau would no longer track the westward migration of the U.S. population.

Up to and including the 1880 census, the country had a frontier of settlement. By 1890, isolated bodies of settlement had broken into the unsettled area to the extent that there was hardly a frontier line.

Native American Population

The census of 1890 showed a total of 248,253 Native Americans living in the U.S., down from 400,764 Native Americans identified in the census of 1850 census.

Historical Considerations of the 1890 Census

The Industrial Revolution

Collected during the heart of the Industrial Revolution, the 1890 Census was the first to be tabulated by machine. The data was collected on separate punched cards that could be fed into a machine for processing.

This dramatically reduced the amount of time needed to tabulate the data.  The total population was published in only 6 weeks.

Support for National Archives

At the time of the 1921 fire that destroyed most of the census records, there was no central agency to protect federal records. Each government department was in charge of its own documents. 

The loss of the 1890 census records was one of the influencing factors in that led to the creation of the National Archives and Records Administration in 1934.

Interesting facts about the 1890 census

  • Benjamin Harrison is President during the 1890 census.
  • The U.S. population increased by 25.5 percent over the 50,189,209 persons enumerated during the 1880 Census.
  • There were 3 urban areas in the U.S. with over a million people New York City (1,515,301), Chicago (1,099,850) and Philadelphia (1,046,964).
  • The U.S. census of 1890 showed a total of 248,253 Native Americans living in the United States, down from 400,764 Native Americans identified in the census of 1850.
  • The 1890 census announced that the frontier region of the United States no longer existed, and that the Census Bureau would no longer track the westward migration of the U.S. population.
  • The census employed 175 supervisors, with one or more appointed to each state or territory, except Alaska and the Indian Territory.
  • Subdivisions assigned to a single enumerator were not to exceed 4,000 inhabitants. In cities designated by 1880 census results to have populations under 10,000, the enumeration was to be completed within two weeks.
  • Enumerators were required to collect all information required by the act by a personal visit to each dwelling and family.
  • For the first time, enumerators were given detailed maps to follow so they could account for every street or road and not stray beyond their assigned boundaries.

Historical events surrounding the 1890 US Census

  • January 1, 1892 – Ellis Island Immigration station begins processing immigrants to the United States.
  • December 29, 1890 – The Battle of Wounded Knee occurs in South Dakota. This is the last major battle between U.S. Troops and Native Americans.

U.S. 1890 Population by State

States Total Population
New York 6,003,174
Pennsylvania 5,258,113
Illinois 3,826,352
Ohio 3,672,329
Missouri 2,679,185
Massachusetts 2,238,947
Texas 2,235,527
Indiana 2,192,404
Michigan 2,093,890
Iowa 1,912,297
Kentucky 1,858,635
Georgia 1,837,353
Tennessee 1,767,518
Wisconsin 1,693,330
Virginia 1,655,980
North Carolina 1,617,949
Alabama 1,513,401
New Jersey 1,444,933
Kansas 1,428,108
Minnesota 1,310,283
Mississippi 1,289,600
California 1,213,398
South Carolina 1,151,149
Arkansas 1,128,211
Louisiana 1,118,588
Nebraska 1,062,656
Maryland 1,042,390
West Virginia 762,794
Connecticut 746,258
Maine 661,086
Colorado 413,249
Florida 391,422
New Hampshire 376,530
Washington 357,232
South Dakota 348,600
Rhode Island 345,506
Vermont 332,422
Oregon 317,704
Oklahoma 258,657
District of Columbia 230,392
Utah 210,779
North Dakota 190,983
Delaware 168,493
New Mexico 160,282
Montana 142,924
Idaho 88,548
Arizona 88,243
Wyoming 60,705
Nevada 47,355
Alaska 33,426

States Covered in the 1890 Census

1890 Census Map
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1890 Census Map

The 1890 Census recorded information from 42 states and 6 territories.  The new states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Washington was included, as well as the Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Alaska, Oklahoma and Indiana Territories.

The 46 states included in the 1890 Census were AlabamaArkansasCaliforniaConnecticutColoradoDelawareFloridaGeorgiaIdahoIllinoisIndianaIowaKentuckyKansasLouisianaMaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMinnesotaMississippiMissouriMontanaNebraskaNew HampshireNew JerseyNew YorkNevadaNorth CarolinaNorth DakotaOhioOregonPennsylvaniaRhode IslandSouth CarolinaSouth DakotaTennesseeTexasVermontVirginiaWashingtonWest VirginiaWisconsinWyoming and the District of Columbia.

What was lost from the 1890 U.S. Census?

The 1890 census was destroyed/damaged by fire in 1921. Less than 1% of the 62,979,766 people enumerated a total of 6,160 names could be extracted.

Some fragments of the 1890 census did survive, however, and they are very useful to researchers. The surviving parts include:

(1) General population census schedules
(2) Schedules of Union Civil War Veterans or their widows
(3) Oklahoma territorial schedules
(4) List of selected Delaware African-Americans, 
(5) Statistics of Lutheran congregations
(6) Statistical information for the entire United States

The following are surviving population schedules:

  • Alabama
    • Perryville Beat No.11 (Perry County) and Severe Beat No.8 (Perry County)
  • District of Columbia
    • Q Street, 13th St., 14th St., R Street, Q Street, Corcoran St., 15th St., S Street, R Street, and Riggs Street, Johnson Avenue, and S Street
  • Georgia
    • Columbus (Muscogee County)
  • Illinois
    • Mound Township (McDonough County)
  • Minnesota
    • Rockford (Wright County)
  • New Jersey
    • Jersey City (Hudson County)
  • New York
    • Brookhaven Township (Suffolk County) and Eastchester (Westchester County)
  • North Carolina
    • South Point and River Bend Townships (Gaston County), Township No. 2 (Cleveland County)
  • Ohio
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
    • J.P. No. 6, Mountain Peak, Ovilla Precinct (Ellis County)
    • Precinct No. 5 (Hood County)
    • No. 6 and J.P. No. 7 (Rusk County)
    • Trinity Town and Precinct No. 2 (Trinity County)
    • Kaufman (Kaufman County)
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