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A Genealogist In The Archives: Friday Book Review: "Substitutes for the Lost 1890 U.S. Federal Census"

Friday, January 21, 2022

Friday Book Review: "Substitutes for the Lost 1890 U.S. Federal Census"

This Friday I have a fantastic book to recommend from a well known genealogy book author, William Dollarhide. I have this book on my genealogy reference bookshelf and refer to it often.

Substitutes for the Lost 1890 U.S. Federal Census

Author: William Dollarhide
Publisher: Family Roots Publishing Co.
Publication Year: 2019
Pages: 101
ISBN: 978-1-62859-254-2
Amazon Link:
Genealogists everywhere are always looking for record sources to document their ancestors that would have been recorded in the 1890 U.S. Federal Population Census. Due to the fact that the majority of this particular census was destroyed by fire in 1921, census substitutes play a key role.
According to the publisher “This is the first comprehensive guide to substitutes for the lost 1890 U.S. Federal Census ever compiled”. The author, William Dollarhide, is well known as the co-author and cartographer of Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses. Dollardhide does not disappoint with this new work.
This new book is chocked full of great information and guidance to the reader on finding our ancestors without the help of the 1890 census. Dollarhide explains “All 1,203 database titles listed in this review were extracted from the series of state books, Censuses & Substitute Name Lists” One of the first things Dollarhide covers is the history of the 1890 census, how it was enumerated and its fate.
The “National Name Lists 65 major U.S. databases identified in the National Name Lists section came from one of the following categories: National Vital Records Lists, Immigration Lists, U.S. Military Lists, Veterans and Pensioners Lists, State Name Lists, State & Territory Census Records, State and County Court Records, Directories, State Militia Lists, Tax Lists and Vital Records Lists.” This is a pretty comprehensive collection of resources.
The remainder of the book is filled with resources pointing the genealogist to online databases and websites that will help us find our ancestors in spite of the loss of the 1890 census. Dollarhide gives us the name of the record source, a brief description and then the internet link to take us to the actual website. The author begins with a chapter on National Name Lists of Major U.S. Databases for the Period 1885-1895. Starting on page 21, Dollarhide addresses these names list sites by U.S. State beginning with Alabama and ending with Wyoming. The reader can read through each state or you can flip right to the state where you are doing research and see what databases are listed.
Since Tennessee is my area of expertise, I flipped over to that section and found some well known and not so well known databases, websites and digitized records for the state of Tennessee. These resources for information and records not only cover the year 1890 but for the most part several years before and after that particular year. I was especially glad to see references to Family Search databases that are not indexed but are only browsable and include actual digitized records.
Included on almost every page are actual examples of the documents that can be found at the databases that Dollarhide shares with us. These are records like state census records, early tax lists, marriage indexes and directory listings just to name a few. On page 2 of the book is a handy table of State Censuses by state dating from 1884-1896. This table lets the reader know which states had state census and what year those censuses were taken. This table is a great quick reference for the researcher to use as they are conducting their genealogy research.
This volume is one of those books that the genealogist would do well to keep at arm’s reach while conducting genealogy research. This is a quick reference guide that should be part of our genealogy resource book collection.

(This review was originally published in the FGS FORUM, Vol. 32, No. 2, Summer 2020)


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