Why is There No 1890 Census?
The Eleventh Census of the United States was taken in 1890, beginning on June 2 of that year. The census enumerated people differently than ever before that time. Each family was enumerated on a separate sheet of paper. 1890 was the only year this was done.
A large percentage of the records were destroyed by fire at the Commerce Building in Washington, DC in January of 1921 fire. Many organizations, including the National Genealogical Society and Daughters of the American Revolution petitioned that the remaining damaged and waterlogged volumes be preserved. Nevertheless, thirteen years later the Census Bureau destroyed what remained of the 1890 schedules. In the 1940s and 1950s a few bundles of surviving census schedules from 1890 were found and moved to the National Archives. A devastating tragedy for U.S. genealogists, just 6,160 names were recovered from these surviving fragments of a census which originally counted nearly 63 million Americans.
The only surviving fragments are as follows:
A provisional census listing for North and South Manitou Islands, compiled from other records, might prove useful as an 1890 Census Substitute.