1890 U.S. Census Substitute

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The 1890 U.S. Census Substitute is a substitute for the original records of the 1890 U.S. Federal Census.


It is used by Ancestry.com because seventy-five percent of the original 1890 census records were destroyed in a 1921 fire in the basement of the Commerce Building in Washington, D.C. before census records were stored permanently in the National Archives.

Questions from the original 1890 census

  • address
  • number of families in house
  • number of persons in house
  • whether a soldier, sailor or marine for the Union or Confederate army during the American Civil War, or widow of such person
  • relationship to head of family
  • race, described as white, African American/black, mulatto, quadroon, octoroon, Chinese American, Japanese American, or Native American
  • sex
  • age
  • marital status
  • mother of how many children and number now living
  • place of birth of person and their father and mother
  • if foreign-born, number of years in US
  • whether naturalized
  • whether papers have been taken out
  • profession, trade or occupation
  • months unemployed during census year
  • ability to read and write
  • ability to speak English, and, if unable, language or dialect spoken
  • whether suffering from acute or chronic disease, with name of disease and length of time afflicted
  • whether defective in mind, sight, hearing or speech, or whether crippled, maimed or deformed, with name of defect
  • whether a prisoner, convict, homeless child, or pauper
  • home rented, or owned by head or member of family, and, if owned, whether free from mortgage
  • if farmer, whether farm is rented, or owned by head or member of family; if owned, whether free from mortgage; if rented, post office box of owner