Look up Deedy in Websters Dictionary and you will see the following definition - \Deed"y\, a. Industrious; active. [R.] --Cowper. But to me Deedy is simply my last name and not a very common one at that. My Father always said "find yourself in a strange city? Open a phone book, find a Deedy and give them a call - chances are they are a relative." So, for all the Deedy's out there hello and welcome.

What happened to the 1890 Census Records?

You may notice that my family history research is missing important census records - the 1890 census reports. Why don't I have them? Unfortunately they no longer exist, as explained in this article:
In March of 1896, the special schedules for the 1890 census which included those for mortality, poverty, and handicap status were damaged by a fire and their remains were destroyed by order of the Department of the Interior. By 1921, the original and only copies of the 1890 census population schedules were stored in an unlocked file room in the basement of the Commerce Building, resting on pine wood shelving. A fire of unknown origin broke out in the basement on the evening of January 10th. The Washington D.C. fire department contained the fire to the basement of the building with at least twenty fire hoses pouring water into the basement. In the aftermath of the fire, the Census Director estimated that 25% of the 1890 schedules had been destroyed and 50% were damaged by water, smoke, or fire. Note that this estimate would suggest that 75% of the 1890 schedules survived the fire itself in either damaged or untouched condition.

By the end of January 1921, the remains of the 1890 schedules were moved out of the basement of the Commerce Building and into temporary storage. The condition of their storage at the Commerce Building had helped to strengthen calls for a permanent National Archives to be built. Between 1921 and 1932, the history of these remnants is difficult to determine. It appears that no salvage or restoration efforts occurred. In December of 1932, the Chief Clerk of the Bureau of the Census sent the Librarian of Congress a list of papers to be destroyed. This was standard Federal record keeping procedure at the time. This list included 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 note any records on the list worthy of saving. Congress authorized destruction of that list of records on February 21, 1933 and thus the 1890 census remains were destroyed by government order by 1934 or 1935.

The 1890 census, whose enumeration was such a technical triumph of its day, was first damaged by fire and water then finally destroyed through neglect and indifference. The Hollerith system used to tabulate that census set the standard for modern and efficient statistical enumeration for decades to come. The research gap caused by the destruction of the original 1890 census schedules will plague family historians forever.

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