Rhode Island 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.
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:
1820-74. These years are indexed in the Supplemental Index . . . Atlantic and Gulf Coast Ports . . . (FHL films 418161-348). They are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under UNITED STATES - EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION - INDEXES.
1848-91 (on FHL films beginning with 205656), 1902-06, and 1906-20 (on FHL films beginning with 1724620). They are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under MASSACHUSETTS, SUFFOLK, BOSTON - EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION.
The Massachusetts State Archives also has Boston passenger lists for 1848 to 1874 and 1883 to 1891. This includes records for the nine years missing from the National Archives records. The 1848 to 1891 index described above is an index to the state lists, but it can also be used for the National Archives records.
Incomplete nineteenth-century passenger lists for:
| Bristol and Warren, Rhode Island 1820 to 1870
|| FHL film 830231 |
|Providence, Rhode Island 1820 to 1867||FHL films 830245-46|
|Newport, Rhode Island 1820 to 1857||FHL film 830236|
are available at the Family History Library and the National Archives. These lists are in Copies of Lists of Passengers Arriving at Miscellaneous Ports . . . Atlantic and Gulf Coasts . . . listed in the Family History Library Catalog under UNITED STATES - EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION. For indexes to these lists, see Supplemental Index to Passenger Lists . . . Atlantic and Gulf Coast Ports . . . listed in the Family History Library Catalog under UNITED STATES - EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION - INDEXES.
The Family History Library and the National Archives have passenger lists for:
| Providence, Rhode Island 1912 to 1916
||FHL films 1421060-68|
|Book indexes, 1911 to 1934||FHL films 1375940-54|
These are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under RHODE ISLAND, PROVIDENCE, PROVIDENCE - EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION.
The Rhode Island Historical Society has:
- Custom House passenger lists and alien passenger reports, 1798-1870.
- Providence crew lists, 1803-84 (FHL 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 U.S. immigration sources is in the United States Research Outline (30972).
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 (FHL 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-; FHL 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.