United States Census, 1890 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: United States Census, 1890  and United States, 1890 Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War.

Record Description

These collections consis of indexes and images of schedules enumerating Union veterans and widows of veterans of the Civil War for the states of Kentucky through Wyoming. Except for some miscellaneous returns, data for the states of Alabama through Kansas do not exist. Some returns include U.S. Naval Vessels and Navy Yards. The schedules are from Record Group 15, Records of the Veterans Administration and is NARA publication M123.

For a list of records by localities currently published in the United States, 1890 Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War collection, select the Browse.

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org. Source citations include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.

11th Decennial Census Office. "Population Schedules of the 1890 Census." NARA microfilm publication M407. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. : n.d.

Suggested citation format for a record in this collection.

Record Content

1890 United States Census Population.jpg
  • Full name
  • Race
  • Sex
  • Age at nearest birthday, if under 1 year given in months
  • Estimated birth year
  • Relationship to the head of household
  • Whether single, married, widowed, or divorced
  • Whether married during the previous year
  • Country or state of birth for the person
  • Father’s birthplace
  • Mother’ birthplace
  • Occupation
  • Whether soldier, sailor or marine during the Civil War, or widow of such person

The veteran’s and widow's schedules include the following information:

1890 United States Census Veteran.jpg
  • Full name of surviving soldier, sailor, marine, or widow
  • Rank
  • Company
  • Name of regiment or vessel
  • Date of enlistment
  • Date of discharge
  • Length of service in years, months, and days

How to Use the Record

To begin your search you will need to know the name of your ancestor and some other identifying information such as age and residence.

Search the Collection

To search the collections by name fill in your ancestor’s name in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person.

To search the collection image by image follow this series of links:
⇒Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the "DGS Film Number" which takes you to the images

Look at the images one by one. Again you will need to compare the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor.

Be aware that with either search you may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips.

Using the Information

When you have located your ancestor in the census, carefully evaluate each piece of information about them. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. For example:

  • Use the estimated birth year to determine an approximate birth date. This date along with the place of birth can help you find a birth record. Birth records often list biographical and marital details about the parents and close relatives other than the immediate family.
  • Use the race information to find records related to that ethnicity such as records of the Freedman’s Bureau or Indian censuses.
  • Use the military service information to locate their military files in the State or National Archives.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment or school records; children’s occupations are often listed as “at school.”
  • Birth places can tell you former residences and can help to establish a migration pattern for the family.
  • It is often helpful to extract the information on all families with the same surname in the same general area. If the surname is uncommon, it is likely that those living in the same area were related.
  • Be sure to extract all families before you look at other records. The relationships given will help you to organize family groups. The family groupings will help you identify related families when you discover additional information in other records.
  • Married family members may have lived nearby but in a separate household so you may want to search in entire town, neighboring towns, or even an entire county.
  • You may be able to identify an earlier generation if elderly parents were living with or close by a married child.
  • You may be able to identify a younger generation if a young married couple still lived with one of their sets of parents.
  • Additional searches may be needed to locate all members of a particular family in the census.
  • You should also be aware that the census may identify persons for whom other records do not exist.

Unable to Find Your Ancestor?

  • Look for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Look for another index. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby localities.

General Information About These Records

The information was handwritten on pre-printed forms. The forms were divided into columns and rows. The basic census enumeration unit was the county with each county being divided into enumeration districts, one for each enumerator. The originals covered 95 to 97% of the population, over 62 million persons. However, a fire at the National Archives destroyed most of the 1890 census. The surviving records list 6,160 names which are mostly veterans schedules.

The U.S. federal census was conducted each decade from 1790 to the present. Federal census takers called enumerators were asked to record information about all those who were in each household on the census day, which was 1 June for the 1890 census. Enumerators were allowed to distribute schedules to households and return later to pick them up completed, but the information collected was supposed to be about the people who were in the house on the census day. The enumerator was also allowed to obtain information from the person living closest to the family about absent family members. The completed forms were sent to the Census Office in the Commerce Department in Washington D.C. 

Federal censuses are usually reliable, depending on the knowledge of the informant and the care of the census enumerator. Information may have been given to a census taker by any member of the family or by a neighbor. Some information may have been incorrect or deliberately falsified. Charges were made of fraud, including bolstering of counts by adding false names. 

Known Issues with This Collection

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See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

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We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.

Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection

"United States Census, 1890," database and digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/V6P6-8YB : accessed 11 April 2012), James T Murphy (Washington, Washington, District of Columbia).