Often confused with the 1890 census, and more often overlooked or misjudged as useless, are nearly 75,000 special 1890 schedules enumerating Union veterans and widows of Union veterans.
The U.S. Pension Office requested this special enumeration to help Union veterans locate comrades to testify in pension claims and to determine the number of survivors and widows for pension legislation. (Some congressmen also thought it scientifically useful to know the effect of various types of military service upon veterans' longevity.) To assist in the enumeration, the Pension Office prepared a list of veterans' names and addresses from their files and from available military records held by the U.S. War Department.
Nearly all of the schedules for the states of Alabama through Kansas and approximately half of those for Kentucky appear to have been destroyed before transfer of the remaining schedules to the National Archives in 1943. Fragments for some of these states were accessioned by the National Archives as bundle 198.For more information about the Special Enumeration of Union Veterans and Widows, see the National Archives Prologue article, "First in the Path of the Firemen: The Fate of the 1890 Population Census, Part 2.