Census Records

Rhode Island Federal Census

The RIHS Library has the Rhode Island federal census from 1790 – 1880 and 1900 – 1930 (the 1890 population census was destroyed by fire). Federal census schedules are on microfilm in the first floor Reading Room. Most of the censuses are indexed, the exception being 1930. Indexes from 1790 through 1870 are in printed format; indexes for 1880, 1900, and 1920 are on microfilm and are arranged by Soundex number. The 1910 index is on CD-ROM; access is by surname. All census indexes are in the Reading Room.

An index for the 1930 census can be found on the AncestryPlus website, to which the library has a subscription. AncestryPlus is accessible on a public access computer located in the Reading Room.

Rhode Island State Census

The State of Rhode Island conducted its own census every ten years on the half-decade year between 1865 and 1935. The complete set of state censuses can be found at the Rhode Island State Archives. The Library has three of the censuses on microfilm: 1865, 1875, and 1885. A card file index is available for the 1865 census. Neither the 1875 nor the 1885 census is indexed, but the 1885 is arranged alphabetically by males and females.

Rhode Island military and freemen censuses

The library has the freemen census of 1747, and military censuses that were conducted in 1774, 1777, and 1782. All are in printed format.

Other states

The library has the 1790 federal census in printed format for the original 13 colonies. Additionally, the collection includes a limited amount of federal census information (population and manufacturer data) for Massachusetts between 1810 and 1865, primarily for Bristol County in the 1850s and 1860s. Some other Massachusetts counties are sparsely represented. There is also a very small amount of early census material for some other New England states and Nova Scotia. Please see the Reference staff for assistance with non-Rhode Island census records.