The 1890 Census is a sore spot for anyone researching their ancestry in the U.S. because it’s the reason for a 20 year gap in records. Since this census was burned in a fire, there is very limited data to retrieve between 1880 and 1900. This causes many researchers to hit a brick wall because a lot can happen over the course of 20 years to make the “breadcrumb trail” disappear.
Is it a coincidence this census was taken when:
- the Blood Quantum laws changed people’s identities,
- the One Drop Rule changed people’s identities,
- the Last Queen of Hawaii was dethroned and Hawaii annexed to the U.S., and
- the Dawes Act/Curtis Act civilized the so-called Indians and divided up their land?
Too much shadiness was going on, around this time, for the burning of the census to be a coincidence. The article I link to below, detailing the facts surrounding the fire, leads me to believe there was definitely some foul play. Here’s some interesting facts from the article:
- The fire was in 1921, a year after the Racial Integrity Laws were passed.
- This was the first census to not keep copies at the county clerks’ offices.
- This census had an expanded breakdown of race, including an Indian option.
- The census was stacked on shelves outside the fireproof/waterproof vault.
The Fate of the 1890 Census – archives.gov
There is a high probability the 1890 census was purposefully destroyed to continue erasing copper-colored people’s identity. I urge you to not let this 20 year gap in census data stop your ancestry research. Other records you can search at the county level include: birth, death, marriage, church and military records.