Rhode Island, State Census, 1885 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Rhode Island State Census, 1885
This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Rhode Island, United States
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Flag of Rhode Island
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Location of Rhode Island
Record Description
Record Type State Census
Collection years 1885
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites

What is in This Collection?

The collection consists of an index and images of census population schedules of the State of Rhode Island as of June 1, 1885. The State of Rhode Island conducted its own census every ten years on the half-decade year between 1865 and 1935.

The schedules consist of two pages per image with numbered lines. The records are arranged by:
1. Town/city
2. Gender, males are all grouped together first followed by females
3. Alphabetical order by the first letter of the surname within the gender

They are not arranged by household. This census also enumerated each individual.

The information is generally reliable. However use the information with some caution, since the information may have been given to a census taker by any member of the family or by a neighbor. Some information may have been incorrect or deliberately falsified.

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Rhode Island State Census, 1885.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

The census was compiled to obtain a count of the population to determine how many representatives the state had for legislative purposes. Reliability of information in the census is determined by the accuracy of the knowledge of the informant. Informants could have been any member of the family or even a neighbor.

The census forms include the following questions:

  • District Number
  • Family Number
  • Number of people in the family
  • Name of every person who is residing in the family
  • Relationship to head of household
  • Gender, race, age and marital status of each individual
  • Place of birth
  • Parents' place of birth
  • Occupation
  • Whether or not in school
  • Whether literate or not
  • Voting information for males over 21
  • Whether an alien or naturalized
  • Any disabilities or physical limitations

The indexed records contain the following information:

  • Name
  • Event type, place and date
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Relationship to head of household
  • Estimated birth year
  • District Number

Some indexed records may include:

  • Names of other people in the household

Collection Content

Sample Image

How Do I Search This Collection?

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The place where your ancestor lived

Search the Index

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

  1. Select the County
  2. Select the Locality/Township to view the images.

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?

When you have located your ancestor in the census, carefully evaluate each piece of information about them. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors.

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Use the age listed to determine an approximate birth date. This date along with the place of birth can help you find a birth record. Birth records often list biographical and marital details about the parents and close relatives other than the immediate family
  • Birth places can tell you former residences and can help to establish a migration pattern for the family
  • Use the naturalization information to find their naturalization papers in the county court records. It can also help you locate immigration records such as a passenger list which would usually be kept records at the port of entry into the United States
  • If they are subject to military service, they may have military files in the State or National Archives
  • It is often helpful to extract the information on all families with the same surname in the same general area. If the surname is uncommon, it is likely that those living in the same area were related

I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?

  • Remember these records do not have an arrangement by household within each locality
  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names
  • Be sure to search both the male section (listed first) and the female section
  • There is also the possibility that a family was missed in the census

Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation

"Rhode Island State Census, 1885." Database and images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. Citing Census Board. State Archives, Providence.

Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.