The loss of the 1890 U.S. Census is a stumbling block for many genealogy researchers. “Losing” our ancestor in 1890 is the cause of many brick walls, but we do have research options to overcome these brick walls.
Devon Lee from the Family History Fanatics and I have teamed up once again to bring you part 2 in our 8-part video series focusing on how to research around the 1890 census loss. We want to take the overwhelm out of researching your ancestors during the 1890 US Census Loss time period. And yes, we will have fun along the way!!
As mentioned in the previous video, the 1890 Census was damaged by water after a fire in 1921. Just goes to show you that we need to have a record recovery plan so rescued documents are damaged by the rescue rather than the disaster. (But we digress).
In this video, we’re going to give you one more strategy for getting around what we call the black hole of 1890 record: Search for state census records. Again, you have to be one of the lucky few to have had ancestors in states that enumerated their citizens between the census records.
State census records were not required and thus, only some states created these in the off years from the federal census:
- New Hampshire
- West Virginia
Although the remaining states had at least one record, the following 21 states help you bridge the 1890 Gap
- Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington, Wisconsin,
NOW… even though we’re talking about bridging the 1890 gap in records, if your state wasn’t shown, it’s still a good idea to visit the state census records link page on the Census.gov site to see what records were kept for the states your researching in. These records are pretty handy if available for your location research.
The 1885 – 1895 State Census Records MYTH
There is a mistaken belief that the state census records were taken in years ending in 5. Some believe that you should be looking for the 1885 or 1895 state census, but this is not always accurate.
In fact, three states (Alaska, Hawaii, and Oklahoma) had an 1890 Census.
But other states had ‘atypical’ census strategies:
- Indiana had 1883 and 1889.
- Michigan had 1884, 1888 and 1894.
- New York had 1892.
- Washington had an every two year census: 1881, 1883, 1885, 1887, 1889, 1891, 1892, 1898. (Don’t you wish your ancestor lived in this Pacific Northwestern state just to access all of these records?)
Now that you know to look for census records at the state level for many, but not all states, the next question you have should be “Where do I find the records?”
State census records may be found at state archives, state historical societies, state libraries, and online. We encourage you to search online before you make an archive visit. Why spend precious on-site time digging through records you can view at home rather than vertical files, offline collections and more?
- Ancestry.com – these are located on under the Category Search called “Census & Voter Lists” and can be accessed by a form search and then filter to the state. Or, you can go to the Card Catalog and type “State Census” in the keyword search field. (You could put it in the title field, but I’ve always found that the keyword search can pick up other interesting gems)
- FamilySearch.org Wiki – Type “state + census records” into the search bar to learn more about individual state census records.
If you’re still having trouble finding your state census records online, visit researchguides.net that will serve as a portal for finding the records you’re after.
Check out the video where Devon talks about those State Census Records!
Using State Census Records To Research Around the 1890 Census Loss
Did you miss the first video on the 8-part series? Find Part 1 here.
You might also be interested in:
- What Is The 1910 Census Telling You About Your Ancestor?
- A Close Up Look At The 1880 Census
- Back to Genealogy Basics: 1900’s Census Records
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