22 February 2009

If only I had that 1890 Census . . .

I would guess that is one of phrases used by most family historians over and over. I absolutely need it for my Dow family in Superior, Wisconsin. Were my Great Grandmother's brothers still living? What would be the relationships given for people living in that household? Were any of the other relatives from Canada in the household? Alas, that is not one of the surviving portions.

Stories abound concerning the population schedule of this census and why the majority of it does not exist. The initial loss was in a fire in 1921 in the Department of Commerce building in Washington, DC. Other portions were destroyed later due to the smoke and water damage. The remains include just over 6100 people. For Minnesota it includes just one family in Enumeration District 224, Rockford, Wright County, Minnesota.** The page with George, Florance, Morris, and Grace Wolford can also be viewed at Ancestry.com if you are a subscriber, Ancestry.com at your library or at HeritageQuestOnline, also via your local library.

The special schedules of this census (mortality, paupers, deaf, blind, dumb, insane and other) were damaged in a 1896 fire and were subsequently destroyed.

For a great article on the 1890 census and the loss of it, read Kellee Blake's article "First in the Path of the Firemen: The Fate of the 1890 Population Census" in Prologue, Spring 1996 issue. It is online at the National Archives Website. This is a must read for everyone working on the history of their family. Be sure to look at all three parts of the article. Prologue is a quarterly publication of the U.S. National Archives and can be ordered online.

** However, there is more of the Minnesota 1890 census that survived. I can still remember the day back in the 1980s when one of the archivists told me that a portion of the 1890 census had been turned over to the state archives. It covers part of Rockville Township, Stearns County, Minnesota. It has been microfiched but few genealogical guidebooks share this information. I will write more about it in a future blog post.

No comments: