1890 US Census

The 1890 US census took place as of June 1, 1890. It included the following states:

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

US states and territories as of 1890
Source: Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.
US map 1880

The 1890 Census Substitute

As previously indicated, most of the 1890 census documents were lost in a fire in 1921. However, attempts have been made to produce substitutes for that census, based on tax records and other documents from that time period.

The first major effort at a definitive census substitute - or what Ancestry terms a "reconstruction" effort - is that in progress by Ancestry.com, in co-operation with the National Archives and Records Administration and the Allen County Public Library. This will include state censuses (1885 or 1895) for the years around the 1890 US census, a number of Native American censuses around that time period, voter registration documents, city and county directories, veterans' schedules, voter registration documents, and, of course, any original census fragments that survived the fire.

Questions on the 1890 US Census

The questions asked on the 1890 US census were as follows:

  • address;
  • number of families in the house;
  • number of persons in the house; and
  • number of persons in the family.
  • First name and middle initial of each individual;
  • Surname of each individual;
  • whether a soldier, sailor, or marine during the Civil War ( Union or Confederate); or
  • whether the widow of a veteran;
  • relationship to head of family;
  • whether white, black, mulatto, quadroon, octoroon, Chinese, Japanese, or Indian;
  • gender;
  • age at nearest birthday;
  • marital status;
  • whether married during the year;
  • if a mother, number of children borne and number living;
  • place of birth
  • father's place of birth;
  • mother's place of birth;
  • number of years in the United States;
  • whether naturalized;
  • whether naturalization papers had been taken out;
  • profession, trade, or occupation;
  • months unemployed during census year (June 1 1889 to May 31 1890);
  • Attendance at school during the census year;
  • ability to read and write;
  • ability to speak English;
  • if no, other language or dialect spoken;
  • whether suffering from acute or chronic disease, with name of disease and length of time afflicted;
  • whether defective in mind, sight, hearing, or speech,or crippled, maimed, or deformed (with name of defect);
  • whether a prisoner, convict, homeless child, or pauper;
  • Supplemental Questions

  • whether the home is rented or owned by the head or a member of the family;
    • if so, whether mortgaged;

  • if the head of family was a farmer, if he or a family member rented or owned the farm;
  • if mortgaged, the post office address of the owner.

A "quadroon" is a person of 1/4 black ancestry; an "octaroon" is a person of 1/8 black ancestry.

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