New York State Substitutes for the Lost 1890 Census

Wednesday, May 15, 2019 - 4:45pm
Author: 
Frederick Wertz

Many family history researchers are aware that the 1890 Federal Census population schedules were almost completely destroyed following a fire in 1921.

Missing this broad and important record set is a big problem for New York State genealogy - only small parts of the towns of Brookhaven in Suffolk County and Eastchester in Westchester County escaped damage due to the flames.

But there is some good news for those researching Empire State ancestors - you may be able to use one of three excellent substitutes to find similar information to what was contained in the destroyed 1890 census.

Read on to learn about each of these recommended substitutes.

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1890 Veterans Schedule

Each federal census includes what is called a "population schedule" - this is the facet of the census that most of us are familiar with, and many think of it as synonymous with the census itself.

However, there are occasionally other "schedules" for each census - these special schedules often collect additional information on a particular subject.

There have been agricultural schedules that collect information on farms; manufacturing schedules that collect information on certain businesses; and military schedules that collect information on active duty service members and veterans of the armed forces. 

To learn more about special schedules and see which were included in certain federal censuses, read our blog Special Federal Census Schedules for New York State

One such schedule was included in the 1890 census - formally known as the 1890 Census Special Schedule for Union Veterans and Widows of Union Veterans of the Civil War, this record set has survived for many states including New York.

Researchers will find:

  • Full name of the soldier, sailor, marine, or widow
  • Rank, company, name of regiment or vessel
  • Date of enlistment and discharge
  • Length of service 
  • Post office address
  • Disability incurred
  • Additional remarks 

This special schedule is available as an online database on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch. 

Search the 1890 Veterans Schedules at Familysearch.org

 

1890 New York City “Police” Census 

For the City of New York (consisting in 1890 of Manhattan and the western half of what is now the Bronx), there is the “Police Census" of 1890. The census is called the "Police Census" because the police acted as enumerators.

It was taken after the 1890 Federal Census because the New York City government suspected that not all of the city's inhabitants had been enumerated.

The census was recorded in 1,008 books, and 894 of them survive to this day. In September of 2016, FamilySearch released an index that covers the vast majority of all these existing volumes. Researchers can find the following information in this census substitute: 

  • Name
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Assembly District
  • Election District

All the surviving books are also available on FHL microfilm, with copies at New York Public Library and other repositories. 

Search the 1890 Police Census on Familysearch.org  

 

1892 New York State Census

In addition to the federal census, New York State took its own census every ten years between 1825 and 1925. These are excellent resources for the New York researcher - make sure to read our comprehensive guide to finding New York State Census records online.

The only exception was in 1885 when that year's state census was skipped due to various bureaucratic and political problems. As a result, the next state census after 1875 was taken in 1892, which is serendipitious given the destruction of the 1890 federal census. 

Only 40 of the state's counties survive: Albany, Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Clinton, Cortland, Delaware, Dutchess, Erie, Essex, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Kings, Lewis, Madison, Monroe, Montgomery, Nassau (then part of Queens), Niagara, Onondaga, Ontario, Orleans, Oswego, Otsego, Queens, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Warren, Washington, Wayne, and Yates.

Researchers will find the following information: 

  • Name (of each household member)
  • Age, gender, race
  • Birthplace (country only)
  • Citizenship status
  • Occupation

All of the above counties are available to search online. 

Search the 1892 New York State Census on Familysearch.org

 

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