Introduction to 1890 Civil War Census

On the 118 Rolls of microcopy are reproduced the special schedules of the Eleventh Census (1890)of the United States enumerating Union veterans widows of Union veterans of the Civil War.

The act of March 1, 1889, establishing a Census Office in the Department of the Interior, provided that the Superintendent of the Census in taking the Eleventh Census, should "cause to be taken on a special schedule of inquire, according to such form as he may prescribe, the names, organizations, and length of service of those who had served in the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps of the United States in the war of the rebellion, and who are survivors at the time of said inquire, and the widows of soldiers, sailors, and marines..." The act also provided that there be prepared and published, in connection with the census, "a list of the names, organizations, and length of service of surviving soldiers, sailors and marines, and the widows of soldiers, sailors and marines."

Because of the difficulties in securing data concerning the veterans or their survivors that the regular and special enumerators were expected to encounter, the Census Office secured all possible information in advance of the enumeration. A preliminary list of the names of 458, 677 surviving veterans was compiled from the records of the Pension Office; Efforts were made to obtain rosters of all Grand Army of the Republic posts throughout the country; and requests were made for State rosters, adjutant generals' reports, and other publications likely to be of value in the work of verifying the special schedules.

The work of the enumerators, which was begun on the first Monday of June 1890, was completed by July 1 of that year. The work of examining, verifying, and classifying the information on the special schedules was carried on from August 1, 1890, to June 30, 1891. During this period many thousands of letters were written to veterans to obtain information not obtained by the enumerators, and inquiries were published in about 500 newspapers throughout the country in order to elicit responses from veterans overlooked in the enumeration. An examination of the special schedules indicates that at least part of the data so obtained was added to the schedules by the Census Office.

Despite a good deal of preliminary work in preparing the contemplated list for publication, the act to provide for the publication of the Eleventh Census, approved February 23, 1893, did not provide funds for its completion. The Superintendent of Census suggested, therefore, that the original intent of the law would be complied with if the schedules containing the records of the service of the surviving veterans, together with their post office addresses, were transferred to the Commissioner of Pensions. This recommendation was acted upon favorably by Congress by an act approved April 21,1894, and the schedules were transferred shortly thereafter. Under authority of an act approved July 3, 1930, these schedules were transferred to the Veterans' Administration where they remained until their transfer to the National Archives on March 24, 1943.

Submitted by Rose Watkins.
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