Rhode Island Census Records

Statewide Census Records that exist for Rhode Island are 17901800181018201830184018501860187018801890(fragment, see below), 1900191019201930 and 1940. There are Industry and Agriculture Schedules 1870 and 1880; the Mortality Schedules for the years 1870 and 1880; and the Union Veterans Schedules for 1890.

Rhode Island took several censuses for various reasons before it ever became a state. Those provincial schedules can be full of useful information, as can the freemen’s lists from 1747 to 1755.

Although there were censuses taken as far back as 1706, many of those records no longer exist. The earliest records that have survived are for 1730 and only some of the returns for South Kingston and Portsmouth for that year have been found.

Almost all of the 1774 census records survived and were published and indexed. However, the records for New Shoreham (Block Island) have been lost. That census pre-dated the Revolutionary War, which makes it a valuable source of information. After the war, populations declined and many changes took place, both in political and economic circles.

In between the taking of the 1774 census and the taking of the 1782 census, a military census was taken. The 1782 census was the last census taken of the area before federal censuses took over. However, some of the records for 1782 for certain towns are missing. Nevertheless, tax lists and other manuscripts were used to rebuild the missing parts of the census. The census returns list people according to age, gender and race. Only the returns for Smithfield and North Providence are missing.

The state of Rhode Island took more extensive state census records than any other state. Censuses were taken each decade from 1865 until 1935. However, the records for the 1895 census no longer exist. The Rhode Island Historical Society has an indexed and microfilmed copy of the 1865 state census on file. The Rhode Island State Archives holds the census information for each of the 10-year censuses taken from 1875 to 1925, except for the missing records of 1895.


Searchable Rhode Island Census Databases and other Helpful Links