1890 U. S. Census: Up in Smoke, Doused in Water

Let’s visit the U. S. Census again; this time the tragic story of the 1890 census. The 1890 census was historic for a couple of reasons like being the first census to employ an electronic counting device. It was enumerated in the Summer of 1890 and sadly, only about half of it survives today.

Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

From the U. S. Census Bureau web site:

Authorizing Legislation — An act signed into law March 1, 1889 authorized the census of 1890, which was modeled after the 1880 enumeration.

Enumeration

Because June 1 was a Sunday, the 1890 enumeration began on June 2. The census employed 175 supervisors, with one or more appointed to each state or territory, except Alaska and the Indian Territory. Subdivisions assigned to a single enumerator were not to exceed 4,000 inhabitants. In cities designated by 1880 census results to have populations under 10,000, the enumeration was to be completed within two weeks. Enumerators were required to collect all information required by the act by a personal visit to each dwelling and family.

The 1890 questionnaire retained almost all of the inquiries from the 1880 census, and a few new questions were added. The 1890 census included a greater number of subjects than any previous census and more than would be included in those immediately following. New entries included questions about ownership and indebtedness of farms and homes; the names, as well as units served in, length of service and residences of surviving Union soldiers and sailors and the names of the widows of those who had died. Another new question dealt with race, including “Japanese” as a category for the first time, along with “Chinese,” “Negro,” “mulatto,” “quadroon,” “octoroon,” and “white.” 

The population schedule was changed so that a separate sheet was used for each family, irrespective of the number of persons included.

As in 1880, experts and special agents were hired to make special enumerations of manufactures, Indians living within the jurisdiction of the United States, and a separate enumeration of Alaska. Furthermore, the schedule collecting social statistics was withdrawn from enumerators; the work of obtaining statistics concerning mines and mining, fisheries, churches, education, insurance, transportation, and wealth, debt, and taxation, also was conducted by experts and special agents. 

For the first time, enumerators were given detailed maps to follow so they could account for every street or road and not stray beyond their assigned boundaries.

Technological Advancement

The 1890 census was notable as the first in which the electric tabulating system, invented by former Census Office employee Herman Hollerith, was used. Tabulation of the 1880 census results took almost a decade to complete, and officials hoped Hollerith’s machine would alleviate delays caused by relying on hand counts and rudimentary tallying machines to process data. 

Hollerith’s machine required information from the census questionnaires to be transferred to a card, which was hole-punched at various places to indicate the characteristics – age, sex, color, marital status, etc. – of a person enumerated. The cards were then run through an electronic tabulating machine, which, using metal pins to complete circuits through the punched holes, counted or cross-tabulated different characteristics.

You can download a free PDF file of the 1890 Census instructions here:


1890 Questionnaire:

For 1890, the Census Office changed the design of the population questionnaire. Residents were still listed individually, but a new questionnaire sheet was used for each family. Additionally, this was the first year that the census distinguished between different East Asian races.

Across the top of the sheet were several organizational questions:

  • Number of dwelling house in the order of visitation by enumerator
  • Number of families in the dwelling houseNumber of persons in the dwelling house
  • Number of this family in order of visitation by enumerator
  • Number of persons in this family
  • The following questions, listed by row number, were asked of each individual resident:
  • Christian name in full, and initial of middle name
  • Surname
  • Was this person a soldier, sailor, or marine during the Civil War (U.S.A. or C.S.A.), or the widow of such a person?
  • Relationship to the head of the family
  • Race
  • Enumerators were instructed to write “White,” “Black,” “Mulatto,” “Quadroon,” “Octoroon,” “Chinese,” “Japanese,” or “Indian.”
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Was the person single, married, widowed, or divorced?
  • Was the person married within the last year?
  • How many children was the person a mother of? How many of those children were living?
  • Person’s place of birth
  • Place of birth of person’s father
  • Place of birth of person’s mother
  • How many years has the person been in the United States?
  • Is the person naturalized?
  • Has the person taken naturalization papers out?
  • Profession, trade, or occupation
  • Number of months unemployed in the past year
  • How many months did the person attend school in the past year?
  • Can the person read?
  • Can the person write?
  • Can the person speak English? If not, what language does he speak?
  • Is the person suffering from an acute chronic disease? If so, what is the name of that disease and the length of time affected?
  • Is the person defective of mind, sight, hearing, or speech? Is the person crippled, maimed, or deformed? If yes, what was the name of his defect?
  • Is the person a prisoner, convict, homeless child, or pauper?
  • Depending on the person’s status in the questions in rows 22, 23,or 24, the enumerator would indicate on this line whether additional information was recorded about him on a special schedule

    The following questions, located at the end of each family’s questionnaire sheet were asked of each family and farm visited:
  • Was the home the family lived in hired, or was it owned by the head or by a member of the family?
  • If owned by a member of the family, was the home free from “mortgage incumbrance?”
  • If the head of the family was a farmer, was the farm which he cultivated hired or was it owned by him or a member of his family?
  • If owned by the head or member of the family, was the farm free from “mortgage incumbrance?”
  • If the home or farm was owned by the head or member of the family, and mortgaged, what was the post office address of the owner?

Unfortunately, in January 1921, a fire in the Commerce Department Building destroyed many of the 1890 census records. All files from Alabama through half of Kentucky (alphabetically) were destroyed. The National Archives has a great two part article on their web site about the fire and the loss of documents which you can find at these links:

“First in the Path of the Firemen” – The Fate of the 1890 Population Census, Part 1

“First in the Path of the Firemen” – The Fate of the 1890 Population Census, Part 2


How many times have you said “if I could only see that 1890 census!?”

I know,..Me too!


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Preserving Pioneer History: Cemeteries in Nebraska

We have a big problem in Nebraska with our old pioneer cemeteries. Farming continues to encroach on abandoned cemeteries and when those cemeteries are on private property farmers will often destroy the cemeteries. Our cemeteries are protected under state laws, however, only about half of the cemeteries were on the state registry in 2017. An … Continue reading

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Preserving Pioneer History: Cemeteries in Nebraska

We have a big problem in Nebraska with our old pioneer cemeteries. Farming continues to encroach on abandoned cemeteries and when those cemeteries are on private property farmers will often destroy the cemeteries. Our cemeteries are protected under state laws, however, only about half of the cemeteries were on the state registry in 2017. An effort has been underway for quite sometime to get all cemeteries registered. This is a great video from Nebraska Stories (about 6 minutes) that gives an overview of this effort.

If you have knowledge of abandoned cemeteries in Nebraska or you’re going out to visit a cemetery in Nebraska this Summer look to see if it has been placed in the registry.

Nebraska State Cemetery Registry

OR

ADD a Cemetery to the REGISTRY



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Bring Your Family Tree into the 21st Century: 7 “Tech” Items for Everyone

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It’s interesting to trace the evolution of family trees moving online since the 1990’s. Jeanne was the researcher who went traipsing all over creation to cemeteries, courthouses and libraries tracking down our ancestors. I find it interesting to go through her notes when I find things like the invention of Family Tree Maker software and old installation CD’s from Netscape – the dawn of the internet. The researchers of the early 1990’s were navigating an exciting time but it was just in the infancy of where genealogical research was going to take us.

If you have collected someone else’s research from the 1990’s or before you have an idea of what a daunting task it is to take all of that written work, files, photocopies, notes, etc. and try to digitize and bring to a new life on the internet and the computer. We are the bridge between the pre-internet age and the future internet age and we have a lot to do.

After doing this for many years here is my list of seven things you should absolutely invest in for your family tree research. These are my “must have items” in my research, organizing and digitizing tool box.

External Hard Drive

If you do not have one of these for your computer/files stop what you are doing now and order or go get one. I have learned the hard way on not properly backing up my files. This is the Seagate external hard drive – the same one I use with A LOT of memory. I always have it connected to my computer and I have it set to back up automatically once a day. I cannot say this enough times: No excuses! Back up your computer!!


Gorilla USB Flash Drive

Thought you were done with backing your computer? Well,…you’re not. Next you need the Gorilla USB flash drive. Your computer is backed up but you need to backup and store all of those photos and files and documents as well. The Gorilla USB flash drives are rugged and solid. Save space on your computer hard drive by moving files to the USB drive or use these when you need to share or retrieve files on the go. Organize these however you want: by file type, family lines, etc.


Brother Label Maker

I cannot LIVE without my Brother P-Touch Label Maker!! I am in LOVE with this thing! If you like your folders and files and drawers to look neat and tidy and organized you have to get one of these!! So many features! You can change the font sizes, add fun little images to the labels just to name a few fun things you can do! Runs on batteries! The tapes will last you a good while – (replacement tapes below).


Ancestry DNA Kit

I see in the family tree groups ALL the time people asking about the DNA test. Yes!!! You should do one and start working the DNA into your family tree. DNA must go hand in hand with records. It will help you with your “weak branches” and it will show you where you are going off course. Jeanne was wrong on some things; DNA was able to prove it. The Ancestry DNA test is the way to go to start with. It’s the best “bang for the buck”. (Don’t bother with the Health version as they have already discontinued it. You want the basic test.)


Brother Compact Scanner

Another item I cannot live WITHOUT! A portable scanner! This one is a great option for less than $100. The Brother DS-640 Compact Scanner can scan to multiple destinations and can be connected to a computer. There are other portable scanner options out there depending on how much you want to spend but this one is great!


Negative Scanner

If you are dealing with a lot of old negatives that you want to convert to digital images you really want to invest in one of these negative scanners. This Megasonic All In One Film Scanner is great right out of the box! Go for the upgrade option with the built in memory and extra SD card.


SD Card Reader

If you have collected someone else’s data from anywhere around the year 2000 (after the floppy disk and before the flash drive) you will probably need one of these. This Zelda 3.0 USB multiple SD card reader is compatible with many different types and sizes of SD cards. This will allow you to open and retrieve files and photos on those pesky little SD cards.


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Dating Old Photographs: The Cyanotype Process

The earliest known modern photography came into existence around 1840. When looking at old photos knowing about the photography process is helpful to point to a date or time period. An early photography process called the “Cyanotype” is explained in this video (about 5 minutes) from the George Eastman Museum


J. S. Winterbottom Store – Rulo, Nebraska, c. 1900 – cyanotype by Agnes Winterbottom – Minneapolis Institute of Art – Mary Beth Thayer Demarce Collection

Early Photography: Making Cyanotypes – George Eastman Museum


Make your own Cyanotypes!

Cyanotype Pre-treated Fabric Sheets


Cyanotype SunPrint Kit


Cyanotype Paper


More Resources for Early Photography:

Cyanotype: The Blueprint in Contemporary Practice


Cased Images & TinTypes KwikGuide


Collector’s Guide to Early Photographs


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United States Census: 1790 History and Instructions

Census records are so important to your research. I find it is very helpful to read the instructions and the history behind the census as I research my family tree. Having these files on hand as you work on hard parts of your tree can sometimes provide more insight or even clues. Let’s start with the first official 1790 United States Population Census which enumerated citizens in thirteen states.

From Wikipedia – the 1790 United States Census:

The United States Census of 1790 was the first census of the whole United States. It recorded the population of the United States as of Census Day, August 2, 1790, as mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution and applicable laws. In the first census, the population of the United States was enumerated to be 3,929,214.[1]

1790 – Poplulation map of the United States – U. S. Census Bureau/Department of the Interior

Congress assigned responsibility for the 1790 census to the marshals of United States judicial districts under an act which, with minor modifications and extensions, governed census taking until the 1840 census. “The law required that every household be visited, that completed census schedules be posted in ‘two of the most public places within [each jurisdiction], there to remain for the inspection of all concerned…’ and that ‘the aggregate amount of each description of persons’ for every district be transmitted to the president.

Although the Census was proved statistically factual, based on data collected, the records for several states (including Delaware, Georgia, New Jersey, and Virginia) were lost sometime between 1790 and 1830.[4] Almost one third of the original census data have been lost or destroyed since their original documentation. These include some 1790 data from: Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Vermont; however, the validity and existence of most of these data can be confirmed in many secondary sources pertaining to the first census.

Census data included the name of the head of the family and categorized inhabitants as follows: free white males at least 16 years of age (to assess the country’s industrial and military potential), free white males under 16 years of age, free white females, all other free persons (reported by sex and color), and enslaved people.[6] Under the direction of the current Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, marshals collected data from all thirteen states (ConnecticutDelawareGeorgiaMarylandMassachusettsNew HampshireNew JerseyNew YorkNorth CarolinaPennsylvaniaRhode IslandSouth Carolina, and Virginia), and from the Southwest Territory.[2] The census was not conducted in Vermont until 1791, after that state’s admission to the Union as the 14th state on March 4 of that year. (From 1777 until early 1791, and hence during all of 1790, Vermont was a de facto independent country whose government took the position that Vermont was not then a part of the United States.)

At 17.8 percent, the 1790 Census’s proportion of enslaved to the free population was the highest ever recorded by any census of the United States.


You can click the link the “download” button to get these instructions in PDF form for your files.


Image: 1790 Census – Berkshire, Massachusetts – Grandfather Obadiah Hamilton Family


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Posted in ancestry, ancestry.com, family tree,, finding your roots, free research, Free Resources, internet archive, library of congress, National Archives, public domain, public records, reclaimtherecords.org, research, research assistance, US Census Records | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

7 Deadly Sins of Digitizing Photos: Pictures and Stories RootsTech Session 2018

What do you need to know before you start digitizing those old photos? This is a great session from RootsTech 2018 – about an hour of very helpful information!

7 Deadly Sins of Digitizing Photos – Pictures and Stories – RootsTech 2018 Session


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Dating Old Photographs: The Daguerreotype Process

The earliest known modern photography came into existence around 1840. When looking at old photos knowing about the photography process is helpful to point to a date or time period. An early photography process called the “Daguerreotype” is explained in this video (about 5 minutes) from the Getty Museum.


Clark Sisters of Washington – Library of Congress – daguerreotype – c. 1850

Early Photography: Making Daguerreotypes – Getty Museum


More Resources for Early Photography:

Cased Images & TinTypes KwikGuide


Collector’s Guide to Early Photographs


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Missouri Birth & Death Index is now available FREE online!

The Missouri Birth (1920 – 2015) & Death Index 1968 – 2015 are now available online for FREE! Thanks again to the hard fighting group at Reclaimtherecords.org you can access the Missouri Birth (1920 – 2015) & Death Index (1968-2015) online for Free. Visit the links below to start to research the index. Additional years … Continue reading

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How to Tell the 10 Best Stories of Your Life: Pictures and Stories RootsTech Session 2017

If you want to start putting your family history into a story version and write a family history book this is a great session from RootsTech 2017 – about an hour of very helpful information!


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My books are back…Research Assistance now Available!

I have all of my family tree library out of storage now after nearly 4 years! I can now provide research assistance for those researching the same family lines and locations. To view the resources available in my library you can go to the newly created page on this web site called “Research Assistance“. You … Continue reading

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Posted in ancestry, ancestry.com, charts, family tree,, finding your roots, free research, Free Resources, fun stuff, newspapers, obituaries, old photos, organizing, photos, research, research assistance, RootsTech, vital records | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Organize Your Family Tree: 10 Dollar Store “Budget” Items to Get You Started

Go From This……

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To This….in 2021

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Let me guess, you inherited the family tree and you’ve got so much stuff you don’t know what to do and it’s sitting in piles in your living room…and your office…and your closet…and who knows where else!

If you’ve decided 2021 is the year to really “ORGANIZE” your family tree I’ve got 10 items you can get at the dollar store that won’t break your bank. Stock up on these to get started and on the right path to getting your family tree files and library organized. These are cheap but useful things that you can stock up on in bulk to have on hand as your work on your tree this year. A quick trip to the dollar store and you get what you need to start working through your library, organizing as you go. Maybe this is your first round or organizing or you are re-organizing, either way it will make things easier.


  • Paperclips! Stock up and get those papers organized and sorted. Get several types, the small ones and the big ones.

Photo by Jorge Romero on Pexels.com

  • Staples! You’ll need them and if you don’t have a good reliable stapler, get one of those too!
Photo by Kindel Media on Pexels.com

  • Pens & Pencils! I love color coding as I organize because I’m very visual on how I remember things. Lots of supplies here you can get cheap at the dollar store. Pens, pencils & markers. Get some good writing supplies!
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

  • File folders! The dollar stores have all kinds of different file folders. Choose the ones you like the best for your needs and stock up. After you paperclip it, label it and file it! You can always move it later, just file it away so you can find it later.
Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

  • Notepads and Paper! Both are pretty cheap at the dollar store. Stop writing on little scrap papers and invest in a solid stack of notepads that you can organize by topic or family or task. Use more than one and label the front of the notebook.
Photo by Kindel Media on Pexels.com

{This is where I use cheap paper if it’s for notes and organizing.} Small steno pads and big sturdier notepads – I use them all.


  • Note Cards! I use note cards all the time for labeling, dividing, sorting, notes. Grab a pack just for when you need them.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

  • Sticky Notes, Labels & Tags! I have all kinds and colors!
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  • 3 Ring Binders! I generally go with the 1 inch binders here which are generally a little cheaper at the dollar store. It depends what kind you want and how high of quality but it’s always good to have a few on hand even if you change them out later.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

  • Plastic Sheet Protectors! to put documents in that your are putting in folders or binders. This will help to protect from any dust or water damage. I put everything into a plastic sheet protector. I look for 20 or more packs which most of the dollar stores carry.


  • Index Dividers! to organize your 3 ring binders. Label and re-label as you go.

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From Germany to Virginia: Researching Germanna Families

Photo: Germanna Visitor Center – 2013 – JohnnyReb67 – Creative Commons

They came from Germany to America in 1714 originally to provide a buffer zone colony against the French and to work and protect the ironworks of Lt. Governor Spotswood. These colonies of German immigrants to Virginia have been studied and written about for decades.

If you have discovered your ancestry leads you into the unique trees of the Germanna Colonies you might want to learn about some great resources available from the Germanna Foundation.

Photo: Map of Siegen, Germany – Genealogy of the Fishback Family in America – by John Fishback – 1917


My Germanna families are the Weavers and other related and intermarried families. Fortunately, my Grand Aunt left me many editions of the Before Germanna books and other published items and books that she bought from the Germanna Foundation in the 1990’s.

I cannot tell you how valuable these books have been and have saved me a lot of time. Why research something that’s already available in print and has been studied extensively!…Right?

Good News! if you don’t have these books many of them are still in print or reprint and are available on Amazon! Click the links below to review and add to your cart! {I do have several of the out of print Germanna books if you are looking for something specific you can view my library under “Research Assistance” at the top of the blog.} P. S. There are 3 FREEBIES in this post!


FREEBIE:
You can download for free the PDF “The First Decade of the Germanna Foundation 1956-1966” here. This is great history of the beginnings of the Germanna Foundation.


GERMANNA (OVERVIEWS)

Germanna: Outpost of Adventure 1714 – 1956 by John Walter Wayland & Charles Herbert Huffman – 2012


Germantown Revisited – The Germanna Record: The Memorial Foundation of the Germanna Colonies in Virginia; 3rd edition – 2005 by W. B. Hackley, B. C. Holtzclaw and Charles Herbert Huffman


Germanna Road: Three Hundred Year History of the Lower Orange County, Virginia, with Particular Attention to the Alexandria Tract and Lake of the Woods by Dr. Peter G. Rainey – 2010


Germanna by John W. Wayland – 2009


FIRST COLONY FAMILIES

Ancestry and Descendants of the Nassau-Siegen Immigrants to Virginia, 1714-1750: Special Edition – Germanna Foundation/Germanna Record – (Update to the 1964 Book) – by Dr. Benjamin C. Holtzclaw


SECOND COLONY FAMILIES

The Second Germanna Colony and Other Pioneers by John Blankenbaker – Geramanna Foundation – 2019 – Germanna Record #18


Kindle Edition for this book also available:


CLORE FAMILIES

The First Four Generations of the Michael Clore Family by Cathi Clore Frost – 2015 – Germanna Record #16


BLANKENBAKER, WEAVER & WHILHOIT FAMILIES

The Blankenbaker, Weaver & Whilhoit Families – by Charles L. Yowell and John C. Wilhite – – 2nd edition – 2006 – Germanna Record #13


Germanna Studies: Essays Honoring John V. Blankenbaker – Various authors – Germanna Foundation – Germanna Record #20
*Free Kindle edition!


The Willheit Family: The First Four Generations in America by Cathi Clore Frost – 2017 – Germanna Record #21


FISHBACK FAMILIES

Genealogy fo the Fishback Family in America: Descendants of John Fishback by Willis M. Kemper – 2018


FISHER FAMILIES

Fisher Genealogy by Gertrude Fisher Harding – 1942 is available here. Click the link in the bottom of the preview window to access this book in other versions to download, search or print.


HOFFMAN FAMILIES

John Hoffman: 1714 Germanna Colonist and His Descendants – The Germanna Foundation – 2nd edition – 1989


KEMPER FAMILIES

Genealogy of the Kemper Family in the United States: Descendants of John Kemper of Virginia by Willis Miller Kemper – 2015


THOMPSON/SPOTSWOOD FAMILY

Germanna: An historical novel; based upon the “ghost stories” and traditions which haunt the one-time home of “Parson” John Thompson and his wife, the former Lady Spotswood by Jennie Thornly Grayson – 1930


MARTIN FAMILIES

A Martin Genealogy: Tied to the History of Germanna, Virginia by William A. Martin – 2019


YAGER FAMILIES

The Yager Family: The First Five Generations by Cathi Clore Frost – 2010 – The Germanna Record


RECTOR FAMILIES

Rectors Remembered: The Descendants of John Jacob Rector – Vol. 1 by Laura Wayland-Smith Hatch – 2014


Rectors Remembered: The Descendants of John Jacob Rector – Vol. 2 by Laura Wayland-Smith Hatch – 2014


Rectors Remembered: The Descendants of John Jacob Rector – Vol. 3 by Laura Wayland-Smith Hatch – 2014


Rectors Remembered: The Descendants of John Jacob Rector – Vol. 4 by Laura Wayland-Smith Hatch – 2014


Rectors Remembered: The Descendants of John Jacob Rector – Vol. 5 by Laura Wayland-Smith Hatch – 2014


Rectors Remembered: The Descendants of John Jacob Rector – Vol. 6 by Laura Wayland-Smith Hatch – 2014


Rectors Remembered: The Descendants of John Jacob Rector – Vol. 7 by Laura Wayland-Smith Hatch – 2014


Rectors Remembered: The Descendants of John Jacob Rector – Vol. 8 by Laura Wayland-Smith Hatch – 2014


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