Rhode Island Emigration and Immigration

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United States Gotoarrow-kelly.png Rhode Island Gotoarrow-kelly.png Emigration and Immigration


Pre-statehood settlers of Rhode Island generally were English Protestants, but liberal policies attracted French Huguenots, Blacks, Jews, and other minorities. Heavy Irish immigration began about 1830 and continued through the rest of the nineteenth century. A great influx of French Canadians began after the Civil War and continued to the turn of the century. Rhode Islanders leaving the state often went to areas such as Vermont and Nova Scotia.

Beginning about 1880, overseas emigration shifted from northern Europe to southern and eastern Europe. The Italians were the largest ethnic group to arrive at this time. Other groups who arrived in Rhode Island between 1880 and 1915 include the Portuguese colonials, Poles, and Jews from Russia.

Sources of information about ethnic groups, such as French Canadians, Blacks, and Jews, are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under RHODE ISLAND - MINORITIES.


Port of Boston

  • The major port of entry to New England is Boston, Massachusetts. The Family History Library and the National Archives have passenger lists for Boston for 1820 to March 1874 and 1883 to 1935 (listed in the Family History Library Catalog under MASSACHUSETTS, SUFFOLK, BOSTON - EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION). The following indexes are also available:
  • 1891-1943 Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, Aug. 1, 1891-1943; Book indexes to Boston Passenger Lists, 1899-1940; Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, Jan. 1, 1902-Dec. 31, 1920 FHL films 1724620 (first film)

Atlantic Ports

1820-1874 FamilySearch Historical Records on line United States, Index to Passenger Arrivals, Atlantic and Gulf Ports, 1820-1874

1820-74. A Supplemental Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Atlantic and Gulf Coast Ports (excluding New York) FHL films 418161-348

1820-1870 Bristol and Warren, Rhode Island FHL film 830231

1820-1867 Providence, Rhode Island FHL films 830245-46

1820-1857 Newport, Rhode Island FHL film 830236

1912-1943 Passenger Lists, Providence, Rhode Island, 1911-1943; book indexes, 1911-1934; card indexes, 1911-1926 FHL films 1421060-68

To see other indexes for Passenger Lists access Family History Library Catalog under:


The Rhode Island Historical Society

  • Custom House passenger lists and alien passenger reports, 1798-1870.
  • Providence crew lists, 1803-84 (Family History Library film 022383 item 2 has lists for 1829-57).
  • Marine Hospital records, 1798-1870.

The Rhode Island State Archives and the Family History Library have copies of maritime papers, 1723 to 1790, and admiralty papers, 1726 to 1777.

More detailed information on immigration sources United States Emigration and Immigration.

Also consult passenger lists of other New England ports and for ports in Canada. Records of Canadian border entries from 1895 to 1949 are on 400 films at the Family History Library (Family History Library films 1472801-1473201). There are also soundex indexes for the records from 1895-1924 and 1924-1952. The records are in the Family History Library Catalog under UNITED STATES - EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION.

Names of immigrants listed in published sources to about 1920 are indexed in P. William Filby, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 15 Volumes (Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research, 1981-; Family History Library book 973 W32p). The first three volumes are a combined alphabetical index published in 1981. Supplemental volumes have been issued annually. There are also cumulative indexes.

Web Sites

A wiki article describing an online collecton is found at:


Rhode Island Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2001.

NOTE: All of the information from the original research outline has been imported into this Wiki site and is being updated as time permits.