1890 United States Census

The Eleventh United States Census was taken beginning June 2, 1890. It determined the resident population of the United States to be 62,979,766—an increase of 25.5 percent over the 50,189,209 persons enumerated during the 1880 census. The data was tabulated by machine for the first time. The data reported that the distribution of the population had resulted in the disappearance of the American frontier. Most of the 1890 census materials were destroyed in a 1921 fire and fragments of the US census population schedule exist only for the states of Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, and Texas, and the District of Columbia.

1890 United States Census
1890 Census form
General information
CountryUnited States
Date takenJune 2, 1890 (1890-06-02)
Total population62,979,766
Percent change 25.5%

This was the first census in which a majority of states recorded populations of over one million, as well as the first in which multiple cities – New York as of 1880, Chicago, and Philadelphia – recorded populations of over one million. The census also saw Chicago rise in rank to the nation's second most populous city, a position it would hold until Los Angeles (then 57th) would supplant it 1990.

Census questions

The 1890 census collected the following information:[1]

  • address
  • number of families in house
  • number of persons in house
  • names
  • whether a soldier, sailor or marine (Union or Confederate) during Civil War, or widow of such person
  • relationship to head of family
  • race, described as white, black, mulatto, quadroon, octoroon, Chinese, Japanese, or Indian
  • sex
  • age
  • marital status
  • married within the year
  • 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 naturalization 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

Methodology

The 1890 census was the first to be compiled using methods invented by Herman Hollerith and was overseen by Superintendents Robert P. Porter (1889–1893) and Carroll D. Wright (1893–1897). Data was entered on a machine readable medium, punched cards, and tabulated by machine.[2] The net effect of the many changes from the 1880 census: the larger population, the number of data items to be collected, the Census Bureau headcount, the volume of scheduled publications, and the use of Hollerith's electromechanical tabulators, was to reduce the time required to process the census from eight years for the 1880 census to six years for the 1890 census.[3] The total population of 62,947,714, the family, or rough, count, was announced after only six weeks of processing (punched cards were not used for this tabulation).[4][5] The public reaction to this tabulation was disbelief, as it was widely believed that the "right answer" was at least 75,000,000.[6]

Significant findings

The United States census of 1890 showed a total of 248,253 Native Americans living in the United States, down from 400,764 Native Americans identified in the census of 1850.[7]

The 1890 census announced that the frontier region of the United States no longer existed,[8] and that the Census Bureau would no longer track the westward migration of the U.S. population. Up to and including the 1880 census, the country had a frontier of settlement. By 1890, isolated bodies of settlement had broken into the unsettled area to the extent that there was hardly a frontier line. This prompted Frederick Jackson Turner to develop his Frontier Thesis.[9]

Data availability

The original data for the 1890 Census is no longer available. Almost all the population schedules were damaged in a fire in the basement of the Commerce Building in Washington, D.C. in 1921. Some 25% of the materials were presumed destroyed and another 50% damaged by smoke and water (although the actual damage may have been closer to 15–25%). The damage to the records led to an outcry for a permanent National Archives.[10][11] In December 1932, following standard federal record-keeping procedures, the Chief Clerk of the Bureau of the Census sent the Librarian of Congress a list of papers to be destroyed, including the original 1890 census schedules. The Librarian was asked by the Bureau to identify any records which should be retained for historical purposes, but the Librarian did not accept the census records. Congress authorized destruction of that list of records on February 21, 1933, and the surviving original 1890 census records were destroyed by government order by 1934 or 1935. The other censuses for which some information has been lost are the 1800 and 1810 enumerations.

Few sets of microdata from the 1890 census survive,[12] but aggregate data for small areas, together with compatible cartographic boundary files, can be downloaded from the National Historical Geographic Information System.

State rankings

RankStatePopulation
01New York6,003,174
02Pennsylvania5,258,113
03Illinois3,826,352
04Ohio3,672,329
05Missouri2,679,185
06Massachusetts2,238,947
07Texas2,235,527
08Indiana2,192,404
09Michigan2,093,890
10Iowa1,912,297
11Kentucky1,858,635
12Georgia1,837,353
13Tennessee1,767,518
14Wisconsin1,693,330
15Virginia1,655,980
16North Carolina1,617,949
17Alabama1,513,401
18New Jersey1,444,933
19Kansas1,428,108
20Minnesota1,310,283
21Mississippi1,289,600
22California1,213,398
23South Carolina1,151,149
24Arkansas1,128,211
25Louisiana1,118,588
26Nebraska1,062,656
27Maryland1,042,390
28West Virginia762,794
29Connecticut746,258
30Maine661,086
31Colorado413,249
32Florida391,422
33New Hampshire376,530
34Washington357,232
35South Dakota348,600
36Rhode Island345,506
37Vermont332,422
38Oregon317,704
XOklahoma258,657
XDistrict of Columbia [13]230,392
XUtah210,779
39North Dakota190,983
40Delaware168,493
XNew Mexico160,282
41Montana142,924
42Idaho88,548
XArizona88,243
43Wyoming60,705
44Nevada47,355
XAlaska33,426

City rankings

RankCityStatePopulation[14]Region (2016)[15]
01New YorkNew York1,515,301Northeast
02ChicagoIllinois1,099,850Midwest
03PhiladelphiaPennsylvania1,046,964Northeast
04BrooklynNew York806,343Northeast
05St. LouisMissouri451,770Midwest
06BostonMassachusetts448,477Northeast
07BaltimoreMaryland434,439South
08San FranciscoCalifornia298,997West
09CincinnatiOhio296,908Midwest
10ClevelandOhio261,353Midwest
11BuffaloNew York255,664Northeast
12New OrleansLouisiana242,039South
13PittsburghPennsylvania238,617Northeast
14WashingtonDistrict of Columbia230,392South
15DetroitMichigan205,876Midwest
16MilwaukeeWisconsin204,468Midwest
17NewarkNew Jersey181,830Northeast
18MinneapolisMinnesota164,738Midwest
19Jersey CityNew Jersey163,003Northeast
20LouisvilleKentucky161,129South
21OmahaNebraska140,452Midwest
22RochesterNew York133,896Northeast
23Saint PaulMinnesota133,156Midwest
24Kansas CityMissouri132,716Midwest
25ProvidenceRhode Island132,146Northeast
26DenverColorado106,713West
27IndianapolisIndiana105,436Midwest
28AlleghenyPennsylvania105,287Northeast
29AlbanyNew York94,923Northeast
30ColumbusOhio88,150Midwest
31SyracuseNew York88,143Northeast
32New HavenConnecticut86,045Northeast
33WorcesterMassachusetts84,655Northeast
34ToledoOhio81,434Midwest
35RichmondVirginia81,388South
36PatersonNew Jersey78,347Northeast
37LowellMassachusetts77,696Northeast
38NashvilleTennessee76,168South
39ScrantonPennsylvania75,215Northeast
40Fall RiverMassachusetts74,398Northeast
41CambridgeMassachusetts70,028Northeast
42AtlantaGeorgia65,533South
43MemphisTennessee64,495South
44WilmingtonDelaware61,431South
45DaytonOhio61,220Midwest
46TroyNew York60,956Northeast
47Grand RapidsMichigan60,278Midwest
48ReadingPennsylvania58,661Northeast
49CamdenNew Jersey58,313Northeast
50TrentonNew Jersey57,458Northeast
51LynnMassachusetts55,727Northeast
52LincolnNebraska55,154Midwest
53CharlestonSouth Carolina54,955South
54HartfordConnecticut53,230Northeast
55St. JosephMissouri52,324Midwest
56EvansvilleIndiana50,756Midwest
57Los AngelesCalifornia50,395West
58Des MoinesIowa50,093Midwest
59BridgeportConnecticut48,866Northeast
60OaklandCalifornia48,682West
61PortlandOregon46,385West
62SaginawMichigan46,322Midwest
63Salt Lake CityUtah44,843West
64LawrenceMassachusetts44,654Northeast
65SpringfieldMassachusetts44,179Northeast
66ManchesterNew Hampshire44,126Northeast
67UticaNew York44,007Northeast
68HobokenNew Jersey43,648Northeast
69SavannahGeorgia43,189South
70SeattleWashington42,837West
71PeoriaIllinois41,024Midwest
72New BedfordMassachusetts40,733Northeast
73EriePennsylvania40,634Northeast
74SomervilleMassachusetts40,152Northeast
75HarrisburgPennsylvania39,385Northeast
76Kansas CityKansas38,316Midwest
77DallasTexas38,067South
78Sioux CityIowa37,806Midwest
79ElizabethNew Jersey37,764Northeast
80Wilkes-BarrePennsylvania37,718Northeast
81San AntonioTexas37,673South
82CovingtonKentucky37,371South
83PortlandMaine36,425Northeast
84TacomaWashington36,006West
85HolyokeMassachusetts35,637Northeast
86Fort WayneIndiana35,393Midwest
87BinghamtonNew York35,005Northeast
88NorfolkVirginia34,871South
89WheelingWest Virginia34,522South
90AugustaGeorgia33,300South
91YoungstownOhio33,220Midwest
92DuluthMinnesota33,115Midwest
93YonkersNew York32,033Northeast
94LancasterPennsylvania32,011Northeast
95SpringfieldOhio31,895Midwest
96QuincyIllinois31,494Midwest
97MobileAlabama31,076South
98TopekaKansas31,007Midwest
99ElmiraNew York30,893Northeast
100SalemMassachusetts30,801Northeast

References

  1. "Library Bibliography Bulletin 88, New York State Census Records, 1790-1925". New York State Library. October 1981. pp. 44 (p. 50 of PDF). Archived from the original on January 30, 2009. Retrieved December 15, 2008.
  2. Truesdell, Leon E. (1965). The Development of Punch Card Tabulation in the Bureau of the Census: 1890-1940. US GPO.
  3. Report of the Commissioner of Labor In Charge of The Eleventh Census to the Secretary of the Interior for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1895. Washington, DC: United States Government Publishing Office. July 29, 1895. OCLC 867910652. Retrieved November 13, 2015. Page 9: "You may confidently look for the rapid reduction of the force of this office after the 1st of October, and the entire cessation of clerical work during the present calendar year. ... The condition of the work of the Census Division and the condition of the final reports show clearly that the work of the Eleventh Census will be completed at least two years earlier than was the work of the Tenth Census." — Carroll D. Wright, Commissioner of Labor in Charge
  4. "Population and Area (Historical Censuses)" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 24, 2008. Retrieved June 20, 2008.
  5. Truesdell, Leon E. (1965) The Development of Punch Card Tabulation in the Bureau of the Census 1890-1940, US GPO, p.61
  6. Austrian, Geoffrey D. (1982). Herman Hollerith: Forgotten Giant of Information Processing. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 85–86. ISBN 0-231-05146-8.
  7. Dippie, Brian W. (1982). The Vanishing American: White Attitudes and U.S. Indian Policy. Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press. p. ??. ISBN 0-8195-5056-6. The data yielded by this census provided strong evidence that the United States' policies towards Native Americans had had a significant impact on the enumeration of the census in the second half of the 19th century. US domestic policy combined with wars, genocide, famine, disease, a declining birthrate, and exogamy (with the children of biracial families declaring themselves to be white rather than Indian) accounted for the decrease in the enumeration of the census. Chalk, Frank; Jonassohn, Kurt (1990). The History and Sociology of Genocide: Analyses and Case Studies. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-04446-1.
  8. Porter, Robert; Gannett, Henry; Hunt, William (1895). "Progress of the Nation", in "Report on Population of the United States at the Eleventh Census: 1890, Part 1". Bureau of the Census. pp. xviii–xxxiv.
  9. Turner, Frederick Jackson (1969). The Early Writings of Frederick Jackson Turner Compiled by Everett E. Edwards. Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press.
  10. Blake, Kellee (Spring 1996). "First in the Path of the Firemen: The Fate of the 1890 Population Census, Part 1". Prologue Magazine. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration. ISSN 0033-1031. OCLC 321015582. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  11. Blake, Kellee (Spring 1996). "First in the Path of the Firemen: The Fate of the 1890 Population Census, Part 3". Prologue Magazine. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration. ISSN 0033-1031. OCLC 321015582. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  12. US Census Bureau, Census History Staff. "Availability of 1890 Census - History - U.S. Census Bureau". www.census.gov. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  13. The District of Columbia is not a state but was created with the passage of the Residence Act of 1790.
  14. Population of the 100 Largest Cities and Other Urban Places in the United States: 1790 to 1990, U.S. Census Bureau, 1998
  15. "Regions and Divisions". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on December 3, 2016. Retrieved September 9, 2016.
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