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Old 11-08-2011, 12:16 AM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
35,496 posts, read 37,581,746 times
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Fires were common back then. Losing the only copy would seem to be a predictable misfortune.

Why did not the states keep a copy and send the feds a copy?

It seems so logical now that we have computers and back things up as a matter of routine.

Edited to add: It seems the fire did not completely do the job. There was also a contribution from the bureaucrats:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1890_United_States_Census:

"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. The other censuses for which almost all information has been lost are the 1800 and 1810 enumerations."

I guess the Librarian felt the damaged records were useless. A shame, since now a lot could be reconstructed.
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Old 11-08-2011, 04:13 AM
bjh
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
49,460 posts, read 27,963,378 times
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It sure would help bridge a lot of gaps.

Maybe we can credit an oxymoron: government efficiency.
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Old 11-08-2011, 06:14 AM
 
356 posts, read 801,757 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjh View Post
It sure would help bridge a lot of gaps.

Maybe we can credit an oxymoron: government efficiency.
hahahahaha!
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Old 11-08-2011, 04:29 PM
 
Location: Pacific NW
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The census was taken so they'd have an accounting of the population ... strictly a numbers thing. Thankfully, they eventually decided to list everyone in the household. But they didn't take it so we'd have it to do our genealogy 125 years later. Long-term preservation wasn't in the plan, because as with counting anything ... it's obsolete the minute you do it. They just wanted to know how many people there were, and where.

Generally speaking, there possibly were THREE copies of the census made. The census enumerator took the census in a book that could be carried with them as they went house to house. That was transferred to the pages in the format we commonly see as the census. If the states wanted to keep a copy (at their option), another copy from that first copy was made and then sent to the federal government. Apparently, most states didn't keep a copy, and just sent on copy #1. Some did, and exist (probably) in the state's archives. And a very few of some of those initial enumeration books exist. The number of errors discovered among the three are scary ... which helps even more to make the census unreliable.

But a lot of states took their own censuses on the "5" years. They make for a good fill-in for the missing 1890. Tax lists, city directories are just some of the other records that can be useful in filling the gap.
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Old 11-09-2011, 07:06 AM
bjh
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
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I seem to remember reading years ago that they had multiple copies stored in the ONE place, unlike other census year records that were stored in different locations.
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Old 11-09-2011, 08:25 AM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjh View Post
I seem to remember reading years ago that they had multiple copies stored in the ONE place, unlike other census year records that were stored in different locations.
Oh, now that shows some foresight!
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Old 11-10-2011, 09:06 PM
 
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Some areas even did an 1892 census in NY. Hard to find data on it though. NY state had a fire about 1911 in the state archives, so a lot of other things are missing

Link on archival mishaps:

Archival Milestones
"1911 Fire in New York State Capitol destroyed much of New York state's archives"
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Old 11-10-2011, 09:35 PM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
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Default Georgia courthouse fires

Georgia Courthouse Fires

During the 1976 Meriwether County Courthouse fire, a lady who worked there tossed all the records she could into the safe, locked it, and escaped out a window.

I think of her every time I go there and sit in the vault to look at original records.

My uncle helped to rebuild the courthouse.

Meriwether County Courthouse

The mason mentioned in the story about the original courthouse should be Hinson Jackson. He was an ancestor of mine.
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Old 11-11-2011, 05:17 AM
bjh
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
49,460 posts, read 27,963,378 times
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^
Awesome
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