Skip to Main Content

Census: Microfilm Collections & Services

This guide focuses on locating people in the census microfilm reels.

1890 Census

Objective: To locate a specific person who lived in Pennsylvania in 1890.  In this example we are tracking Abner Hubbard, who lived in Columbia County and should have been counted during the Federal Population Census for Pennsylvania in 1890 Census.  We want to confirm this information and determine any other information about his family collected by the census enumerator in 1890. 

1890 Census: Pennsylvania reel listing located at bottom of guide.

The original population schedules for the 1890 Federal Census of the United States were destroyed by a fire at the Commerce Department in Washington DC on January 10, 1921.   All of the population schedules for Pennsylvania were destroyed.  The only information that is available from the 1890 census for Pennsylvania is the Veteran’s schedule which is also entitled:  Schedule Enumerating Union Veterans and widows of the Civil War.

For Census style information on Centre County in 1890, consult the Post Office Directory of the population of Centre County, 1890, Microfilm call number D 326 Reel Number 197.

Please ASK the staff at Microforms & Government Information, 2nd floor Paterno Desk at any time for additional help or clarification about how to locate the sources or information.

Step 1: To find an individual in 1890, they must be a Veteran or a widow of a Veteran.  Additionally, the county that the person lived in must be known. 

The Internet can be a valuable tool to aid in your Census search.  There are many sites that provide information.  Census Online contains over 44,000 links to US census records, census calculators, and census forms from 1790-1930.  The microfilm information and the internet information can be used together to complete a search for an individual.  Links to Internet sources have been inserted throughout this document that complement and, in some cases, replace the print indexes or the census microfilm.  Please note that the microfilm constitutes the primary source and should be consulted for errors in transcription.

Visit US GenWeb Census Project to determine if any census information is recorded online for Abner Hubbard.  This is an ongoing project with new data continuously being added [Note:  If the census records for 1890 for Columbia County are not available online,  it is necessary to use the Census data available on Microfilm.]

Step 2:  Determine which roll of microfilm is required and locate 1890 Schedules enumerating Union Veterans and widows of the Civil War on Microfilm in Microforms & Government Information, 2nd floor Paterno, in the microfilm cabinets under the call number HA217.U5P4 1890 (reels 78-91). This information has also been transcribed in a chart at the end.

The reels are arranged by call number in alphabetical order by county.  The National Archives contains a listing of each reel and the counties contained on that reel.  It is also listed in example 1 below.

Example 1:  Listing of counties on each roll of microfilm.  Columbia County is on roll 83.

At this point you will need to use a microfilm reader/printer/scanner in the News and Microforms Library to locate and read the census schedule for Abner Hubbard. Please ASK the staff at the Reference Desk for help if you are unfamiliar with the machines.

Step 3:  Scroll through the microfilm until you locate Columbia County.  Then methodically review the pages in search for the individual that you are seeking.      

 For this example, Abner Hubbard was listed in Columbia County, enumeration district 26.  See examples 2 and 3.

Names of individuals are not in alphabetical order on the ledger page. The script and the microfilm quality can sometimes present interesting challenges for the researcher!

Example 2:  Original entry for Abner Hubbard

Example 3:  The second page of the original entry for Abner Hubbard

Step 4:  Review the information collection for Abner Hubbard in the 1890 census.  See example 2.  A blank 1890 veterans schedule can be viewed and printed to assist your collection of data from the microfilm. A blank form has been provided at the end. 

In 1890, the following 11 columns of information were collected:

  1. House Number
  2. Family Number
  3. Names of surviving Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and widows
  4. Rank
  5. Company
  6. Name of regiment or vessel
  7. Date of Enlistment
  8. Date of Discharge
  9. Length of Service
  10. Post Office Address
  11. Disability incurred

Abner Hubbard was a private in Company E with the 122nd New York Infantry.  He was enlisted on 8/29/1862 and discharged on 8/27/1865.  It has his length of service listed as 4 years, although there is a discrepancy between the dates of service and number of years.  His post office address was Roaring Creek and he incurred a gunshot wound in his left hip during his military service. 

1890 Census: Pennsylvania (Reels 78-91)

Reel No. Names of Counties (Pennsylvania) Note

Reel 78



Reel 79



Reel 80



Reel 81

Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, York


Reel 82

Berks, Bucks, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton


Reel 83

Columbia, Dauphin, Lebanon, Montour, Northumberland, Schuylkill


Reel 84

Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne, Wyoming


Reel 85

Bradford, Cameron, Center, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Lycoming, McKean, Potter, Sullivan


Reel 86

Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Snyder, Union


Reel 87

Armstrong, Cambria, Clarion, Indiana, Jefferson, Westmoreland


Reel 88



Reel 89

Butler, Crawford, Erie, Forest, Lawrence, Mercer, Venango, Warren


Reel 90

Beaver, Fayette, Greene


Reel 91

Somerset, Washington, and certain federal, state, local, and private institutions throughout Pennsylvania