One of the interesting things about RI researchers that I've run into is that they are often looking for those old 17th and 18th century families. If that's what you're searching for, skip to the end, because this post is about a fabulous resource that's free online for those of us with 19th and 20th century RI ancestors.
My RI families are late 19th century and 20th century immigrants, and many of the published materials deal with the older, Roger Williams era families. For those of us with immigrant ancestors from Ireland, French-Canada, Italy, and the Azores, the Family History Library has digitized and indexed the 1885, 1905, 1915, 1925 and 1935 RI state censuses. The 1895 census doesn't exist. The other censuses, however, can be searched online at
The index will bring you directly to the images of the census that you're interested in. There are funky things to know about each census year, for example, the 1885 census list men and women in separate records, so it doesn't put people into family units. But by using the 1880 US Federal census to fill out family groups, you can then search the 1885 for each family member. The census will give District, family number and number in family as well as relationship to head of family, so you can cross reference the people you know, and perhaps find some that you don't. It also gives occupation and number of months attending school. Check it out for one of my guys Frank E. Noyes https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-9832-42147-47?cc=1794115
The 1905 State Census entry of Frank E. Noyes is on index cards and covers 2 pages (don't forget the 2nd page!). https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12663-12353-19?cc=1542866&wc=6068656
This census gives additional information such as years living in RI, religious affiliation, whether the individual is a registered voter, etc. For women, it identifies the number of children, as well as the number of children living as of June 1, 1905. All good information for our family history. See https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12660-56890-92?cc=1542866&wc=6068925
for Frank's wife, Dora's, 2nd page, for more info about her parent's birthplaces.
For immigrants, it can be great to know how long they've been in the US, and other information about their employment, naturalization status and how long they've been in RI, if different from how long they've been in the US.
In the next post, we'll check out the 1925 and 1935 RI censuses, see you then!