Monday, February 27, 2012

Tuesday's Tip - Inputting Data on the 1890 U.S. Census

1890 U.S. Federal Census

Holy cow!  I haven't posted one of my U.S. Census forms since September 5th!  I knew that I had been distracted, but I didn't realize how distracted until seeing that!  Well, I should have been done by now, but still, we're a month away from the 1940 census is released and I should be able to get them all up easily by then.  The last census I posted was the 1880, so onward...

For most of us the 1890 U.S. Federal Census isn't available.  The majority was damage by a fire in the U.S. Commerce Building in 1921.  The records of just over 6,000 people survive.  Why is the loss of the 1890 census so significant to us in our research?  Here's a perfect example...

You are trying to figure out the parents of Melanie Beaty (made up name).  Melanie was born in 1881 and by the 1900 census she is married to George Quirk (another fake name).  You think that her parents were William and Dorris Beaty, but the only census you could check to see if she's with William and Dorris would be the 1890 census...and it's gone.

It doesn't matter if you're researching backward in time or forward (researching collateral lines, perhaps), the problem still exists.  Does this mean that you can't find out more about Melanie?  Does this mean that you'll never figure out if she is the daughter of William and Dorris?  No, but you obviously won't be finding it out from the 1890 census.  We love the U.S. Federal Census.  It's like a warm, cozy blanket and we love keeping it handy, but just because the majority of us can't find our ancestors in it doesn't mean we're at a genealogical brick wall.  We use other sources all the time (or at least we're supposed to be) so why wouldn't we now?  Even if we did find Melanie in a census it's our job to ensure we've got the right Melanie by seeking out other sources and discovering if our theory makes sense. has a 1890 Census Substitute that you can check through if you are looking for someone and, like most of us, don't have them in the surviving 1890 census.  Check it out.  You can see the various sources that compile their "census substitute".  But keep in mind that there are so many other places to check besides the 1890 Census or the Census substitute.  Yes, 1890 was before mandatory records were set by the federal government for registering births, marriages and deaths, but that doesn't mean that your state or county didn't have those records.  Know the church your ancestors went to?  That's gold waiting to be mined!  Everything non-census related that we would normally look in is fair game as a replacement.  It doesn't mean that we won't sadly reflect on the 1890 census and wish that we still had it, but it's not the end of days either.

I haven't really referred back to for many of the posts that I've done, but they do have some very good tutorials about getting around the loss of the 1890 census, so I'll break from tradition and refer you there now!

-Blazing New Trails: Reconstruction of the 1890 Census
-A Fire Destroyed the 1890 Census, but it Doesn't Have to Destroy Your Search
-1890 Census:  Your Next Steps and Alternate Sources has tons of tutorials that can pretty much help you with anything in your research.  While I didn't find anything dealing with only the 1890 census that doesn't mean that I didn't miss something in my cursory search.  Here's the link to the Family Search Learning Center.

Now for those of you that have won the figurative jack-pot and do have someone in the 1890 census, well, I'm incredibly jealous, but this post is for you.  I've never used this census and I can tell you it really made my mouth water.  As usual, I've kept the spreadsheet I've created as close to the original as I could while still making it visually useful.  Also, when you view the spreadsheet in Google Docs it's not going to look quite right, but once you download it, the sheet will be 2 pages and look very close to the original.  The sheet has been protected to you can only make changes in the open boxes.  This means that you just need to hit the "tab" key to move to the next box and you won't have to worry about accidentally erasing the worksheet! If you've got any suggestions to make the form more functional, please let me know!

Until next time have fun tending those roots!

You can check out the other census forms I've posted by clicking on the following links:
   -1850, Schedule 1
   -1850, Schedule 2
   -1860, Schedule 1
   -1860, Schedule 2

And now you've got census forms that you can input data into and save to your computer!