Seeking 1899 census of Porto Rico and GPO correspondence

Hi, I am attempting to determine the final disposition of the population schedules of the 1899 census of Porto Rico (Puerto Rico). Latest reference I have been able to locate is to a 1912 letter from the Secretary of Commerce to the House of Representatives dated January 15, 1912 (62nd Congress, 2nd Session, Document No.460) recommending that the schedules be disposed. I'd like to know if hey were ever actually destroyed or if they might still be laying around in some dusty boxes in a basement somewhere? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

And, in connection with this same query, I'm also interested in the "Records of the Government Printing Office (GPO)." more specifically those found in Record Group 149 (149.2 records of the Government Printing Office, 1847-1939: Correspondence 1852-1935 with the period 1912-1915 of particular interest; and, Accounting Records 1861-1933, again with those records from 1912-1915 being of particular interest.)

I realize that the Archives (NARA) in DC are apparently open on a limited basis but at this time I am unable to travel there for any on-site research. So, any suggestions or input will be greatly appreciated. Thanks and stay safe.

  • Dear Mr. Rivera,


    Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


    According to the Census Bureau, census data are available for Puerto Rico from periodic censuses, beginning with a census taken by the War Department in 1899. The 1920 and earlier censuses were enumerated on January 1, 1920; April 15, 1910; and November 10, 1899. Earlier data are available from censuses conducted by the government of Spain from 1765 to 1897.


    We searched the National Archives Catalog and located the series titled Government Publications, 1861 - 1992 in the Publications of the U.S. Government (Record Group 287) that includes W 48.2:R 29/1 - "War Department, Office Director, Census of Porto Rico, 1899" by Lt. Col. J. P. Sanger, inspector-general, director. Henry Gannett, Walter F. Willcox, statistical experts. (Washington, GPO 1900) [417pp]. For more information about this non-digitized publication, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) at  The publication has been digitized by the Hathitrust via the New York Public Library and by the Internet Archives.


    We also located Index to Letters Sent by the Chief Clerk, 12/12/1896 - 5/21/1906 in the Records of the Government Printing Office (Record Group 149) that partially indexes the Registers of Orders for Lithographing and Engraving, 6/15/1878 - 6/30/1917 in Record Group 149 that may include the correspondence you seek for 1912-1915. In addition, we located 9 series of accounting records in Record Group 149 during the 1910s. For more information about these non-digitized records, please contact the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) at


    Due to the continued impact of COVID-19, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgment as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT2 and RDT1.  We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience as we balance mission-critical work and the safety of our staff during the pandemic. Please check NARA’s web page about COVID-19 updates for the latest information.


    We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!


  • Hi Rebecca,

    My apologies for a tardy response, but I down ant to thank you for taking time to reply to my original query.

    I am aware, and have in my possession, copies of the several versions of the 1899 War Department report on the 1899census of Puerto Rico by then LTC Sanger.

    However, your other suggestions appear to be promising research possibilities and are in perfect alignment with the state of my current research. Why my real wish is to find that the 1899 census schedules are still laying around in some dank NARA basement or warehouse I'm afraid that everything I have found so far indicates that they were destroyed. So, that said, at this point I'm just looking for some form of documentary confirmation that they were in fact destroyed. The links you provided in your 3rd paragraph looking very promising on that regard.

    Thank you again for response.It's greatly appreciated.

    Best regards,

    Lidio Rivera

  • Lidio, Rebecca, were either of you able to find evidence on whether the records were destroyed or not?

Reply Children

    Thank you for posting your question on History Hub!

    All of the records mentioned in our initial response over 2 years ago (Record Groups 287 and 149) are located at the National Archives in College Park, MD. Our initial response erroneously indicated that RG 149 is located at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, but it is actually in College Park. If you are interested in following up on some of the suggestions in the initial email yourself, you should direct your questions to our staff in College Park. 

    We hope this assists you with your research!


    Archives 1 Reference Branch (RR1R)