NYC Records & Information Services

Municipal Library Notes - October 15, 2020
The 1890 New York City “Police” Census


Spotlight on: The 1890 New York City “Police” Census

Just as it is today, in 1890 New York was a city of immigrants. And like today, the City believed that its population was undercounted by the federal census-takers. To prove it, Mayor Hugh Grant directed that the New York Police Department conduct another count. The result was the 1890 “Police” census.

Although the information recorded by the Police Officers (name, sex and age of each resident) was not as extensive as the federal record, it did prove the City’s contention that the numbers in the federal count were significantly lower. Unfortunately, Mayor Grant’s efforts to persuade federal officials to accept the revised numbers were unsuccessful.

Many years later, the original 1890 “Police” census books were transferred to the Municipal Archives where they have served generations of genealogists with unique information for their family histories. In an ironic twist, the 1890 federal census burned in a fire, and the 1890 “Police” census is the only extant record of the city’s population.

Police Census Books

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