1890 United States census

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1890 United States census

  1880 June 2, 1890 (1890-06-02) 1900  

Seal of the Department of the Interior
1890 U.S. Census form.jpg
1890 census form
General information
CountryUnited States
Authority Census Office
Total population62,979,766 (Increase2.svg 25.5%)
Most populous state New York
Least populous state Nevada

The 1890 United States census was taken beginning June 2, 1890. The census 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 reported that the distribution of the population had resulted in the disappearance of the American frontier.


This was the first census in which a majority of states recorded populations of over one million and the first in which three cities, New York City, 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, the 57th-most populous city as of 1890, supplanted it in 1990. This was the first U.S. census to use machines to tabulate the collected data.

Most of the 1890 census materials were destroyed on 10 January 1921 when the Commerce Department building caught fire, and in the subsequent disposal of the remaining damaged records.

Census questions

The 1890 census collected the following information: [1]


A Hollerith tabulator that has been modified for the first 1890 census tabulation; the punched-card reader was removed, replaced by a simple keyboard. 1890 Census Hollerith Electrical Counting Machines Sci Amer.jpg
A Hollerith tabulator that has been modified for the first 1890 census tabulation; the punched-card reader was removed, replaced by a simple keyboard.

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] Changes from the 1880 census included the larger population, the number of data items to be collected from individuals, the Census Bureau headcount, the volume of scheduled publications, and the use of Hollerith's electromechanical tabulators. The net effect of these changes 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] [2] :61 The public reaction to this tabulation was disbelief, as it was widely believed that the "right answer" was at least 75,000,000. [5]

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. [6]

The 1890 census announced that the frontier region of the United States no longer existed, [7] and that the Census Bureau would no longer track the westward migration of the U.S. population.

By 1890, settlement in the American West had reached sufficient population density that the frontier line had disappeared. For the 1890 census, the Census Bureau released a bulletin declaring the closing of the frontier, stating: "Up to and including 1880 the country had a frontier of settlement, but at present the unsettled area has been so broken into by isolated bodies of settlement that there can hardly be said to be a frontier line. In the discussion of its extent, its westward movement, etc., it can not, therefore, any longer have a place in the census reports." [8]

Data availability

The original data for the 1890 census is mostly unavailable. The population schedules were damaged in a fire in the basement of the U.S. Department of 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. [9] [10] 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. Few sets of microdata from the 1890 census survive. [11] Aggregate data for small areas, together with compatible cartographic boundary files, can be downloaded from the National Historical Geographic Information System.

State rankings

01Flag of New York (1778-1901).svg  New York 6,003,174
02Pennsylvania State Flag 1863 pubdomain.jpg Pennsylvania 5,258,113
03Flag of Illinois (1915-1969).svg  Illinois 3,826,352
04Flag of Ohio.svg  Ohio 3,672,329
05Flag of Missouri.svg  Missouri 2,679,185
06Flag of Massachusetts (1908-1971).svg  Massachusetts 2,238,947
07Flag of Texas.svg  Texas 2,235,527
08Flag of Indiana.svg  Indiana 2,192,404
09Flag of Michigan.svg  Michigan 2,093,890
10Flag of Iowa.svg  Iowa 1,912,297
11Flag of Kentucky.svg  Kentucky 1,858,635
12Flag of the State of Georgia (1879-1902).svg  Georgia 1,837,353
13Flag of Tennessee (1897-1905).svg  Tennessee 1,767,518
14Flag of Wisconsin (1866-1913).png  Wisconsin 1,693,330
15Flag of Virginia (1861).svg  Virginia 1,655,980
16Flag of North Carolina (1885-1991).svg  North Carolina 1,617,949
17Flag of Alabama.svg  Alabama 1,513,401
18Flag of New Jersey (1896-1965).png  New Jersey 1,444,933
19Flag of Kansas (1927-1961).svg  Kansas 1,428,108
20Flag of Minnesota (1893-1957).svg  Minnesota 1,310,283
21Flag of Mississippi (1894-1996).png  Mississippi 1,289,600
221stBearFlag.svg  California 1,213,398
23Flag of South Carolina.svg  South Carolina 1,151,149
24Flag of Arkansas (1913).svg  Arkansas 1,128,211
25Flag of Louisiana.svg  Louisiana 1,118,588
26Flag of Nebraska.svg  Nebraska 1,062,656
27Flag of Maryland (pre-1904).png Maryland 1,042,390
28Flag of West Virginia (1905-1907).png  West Virginia 762,794
29Flag of Connecticut.svg  Connecticut 746,258
30Flag of Maine.svg  Maine 661,086
31Flag of Colorado (1907-1911).png  Colorado 413,249
32Flag of Florida (1900-1985).svg  Florida 391,422
33Flag of New Hampshire (1909-1931).png  New Hampshire 376,530
34Flag of Washington (1923-1967).png  Washington 357,232
35Flag of South Dakota (1909-1963).svg  South Dakota 348,600
36Flag of Rhode Island (1882-1897).svg  Rhode Island 345,506
37Flag of Vermont (1837-1923).svg  Vermont 332,422
38Flag of Oregon.svg  Oregon 317,704
XFlag of Oklahoma (1911-1925).svg  Oklahoma 258,657
XFlag of the District of Columbia.svg  District of Columbia [12] 230,392
XFlag of the Utah Territory.svg Utah 210,779
39Flag of North Dakota.svg  North Dakota 190,983
40Flag of Delaware.svg  Delaware 168,493
XFlag of New Mexico.svg New Mexico 160,282
41Flag of Montana (1905-1981).svg  Montana 142,924
42Flag of Idaho.svg  Idaho 88,548
XFlag of Arizona.svg Arizona 88,243
43Flag of Wyoming.svg  Wyoming 62,555
44Flag of Nevada (1905-1915).svg  Nevada 47,355
XFlag of Alaska.svg  Alaska 32,052

City rankings

RankCityStatePopulation [13] Region (2016) [14]
01 New York New York 1,515,301 Northeast
02 Chicago Illinois 1,099,850 Midwest
03 Philadelphia Pennsylvania 1,046,964 Northeast
04 Brooklyn New York 806,343 Northeast
05 St. Louis Missouri 451,770 Midwest
06 Boston Massachusetts 448,477 Northeast
07 Baltimore Maryland 434,439 South
08 San Francisco California 298,997 West
09 Cincinnati Ohio 296,908 Midwest
10 Cleveland Ohio 261,353 Midwest
11 Buffalo New York 255,664 Northeast
12 New Orleans Louisiana 242,039 South
13 Pittsburgh Pennsylvania 238,617 Northeast
14 Washington District of Columbia 230,392 South
15 Detroit Michigan 205,876 Midwest
16 Milwaukee Wisconsin 204,468 Midwest
17 Newark New Jersey 181,830 Northeast
18 Minneapolis Minnesota 164,738 Midwest
19 Jersey City New Jersey 163,003 Northeast
20 Louisville Kentucky 161,129 South
21 Omaha Nebraska 140,452 Midwest
22 Rochester New York 133,896 Northeast
23 Saint Paul Minnesota 133,156 Midwest
24 Kansas City Missouri 132,716 Midwest
25 Providence Rhode Island 132,146 Northeast
26 Denver Colorado 106,713 West
27 Indianapolis Indiana 105,436 Midwest
28 Allegheny Pennsylvania 105,287 Northeast
29 Albany New York 94,923 Northeast
30 Columbus Ohio 88,150 Midwest
31 Syracuse New York 88,143 Northeast
32 New Haven Connecticut 86,045 Northeast
33 Worcester Massachusetts 84,655 Northeast
34 Toledo Ohio 81,434 Midwest
35 Richmond Virginia 81,388 South
36 Paterson New Jersey 78,347 Northeast
37 Lowell Massachusetts 77,696 Northeast
38 Nashville Tennessee 76,168 South
39 Scranton Pennsylvania 75,215 Northeast
40 Fall River Massachusetts 74,398 Northeast
41 Cambridge Massachusetts 70,028 Northeast
42 Atlanta Georgia 65,533 South
43 Memphis Tennessee 64,495 South
44 Wilmington Delaware 61,431 South
45 Dayton Ohio 61,220 Midwest
46 Troy New York 60,956 Northeast
47 Grand Rapids Michigan 60,278 Midwest
48 Reading Pennsylvania 58,661 Northeast
49 Camden New Jersey 58,313 Northeast
50 Trenton New Jersey 57,458 Northeast
51 Lynn Massachusetts 55,727 Northeast
52 Lincoln Nebraska 55,154 Midwest
53 Charleston South Carolina 54,955 South
54 Hartford Connecticut 53,230 Northeast
55 St. Joseph Missouri 52,324 Midwest
56 Evansville Indiana 50,756 Midwest
57 Los Angeles California 50,395 West
58 Des Moines Iowa 50,093 Midwest
59 Bridgeport Connecticut 48,866 Northeast
60 Oakland California 48,682 West
61 Portland Oregon 46,385 West
62 Saginaw Michigan 46,322 Midwest
63 Salt Lake City Utah 44,843 West
64 Lawrence Massachusetts 44,654 Northeast
65 Springfield Massachusetts 44,179 Northeast
66 Manchester New Hampshire 44,126 Northeast
67 Utica New York 44,007 Northeast
68 Hoboken New Jersey 43,648 Northeast
69 Savannah Georgia 43,189 South
70 Seattle Washington 42,837 West
71 Peoria Illinois 41,024 Midwest
72 New Bedford Massachusetts 40,733 Northeast
73 Erie Pennsylvania 40,634 Northeast
74 Somerville Massachusetts 40,152 Northeast
75 Harrisburg Pennsylvania 39,385 Northeast
76 Kansas City Kansas 38,316 Midwest
77 Dallas Texas 38,067 South
78 Sioux City Iowa 37,806 Midwest
79 Elizabeth New Jersey 37,764 Northeast
80 Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania 37,718 Northeast
81 San Antonio Texas 37,673 South
82 Covington Kentucky 37,371 South
83 Portland Maine 36,425 Northeast
84 Tacoma Washington 36,006 West
85 Holyoke Massachusetts 35,637 Northeast
86 Fort Wayne Indiana 35,393 Midwest
87 Binghamton New York 35,005 Northeast
88 Norfolk Virginia 34,871 South
89 Wheeling West Virginia 34,522 South
90 Augusta Georgia 33,300 South
91 Youngstown Ohio 33,220 Midwest
92 Duluth Minnesota 33,115 Midwest
93 Yonkers New York 32,033 Northeast
94 Lancaster Pennsylvania 32,011 Northeast
95 Springfield Ohio 31,895 Midwest
96 Quincy Illinois 31,494 Midwest
97 Mobile Alabama 31,076 South
98 Topeka Kansas 31,007 Midwest
99 Elmira New York 30,893 Northeast
100 Salem Massachusetts 30,801 Northeast

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  10. 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. 28 (1). ISSN   0033-1031. OCLC   321015582 . Retrieved April 13, 2013.
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  12. The District of Columbia is not a state but was created with the passage of the Residence Act of 1790.
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