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Explore the History and Importance of the U.S. Census at the Rhode Island State Archives

PROVIDENCE, RI With the 2020 Census right around the corner, Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea invites the public to come explore the "why" and the "how" of the decennial census at the new Rhode Island State Archives exhibition: Count Me In!

Established by the country's founding fathers in 1790, the census remains vitally important to Rhode Island today. "The 2020 Census will shape the future of our state," said Secretary Gorbea. "Not only does it define our voice in Congress, it also determines Rhode Island's share of more than $700 billion in federal funding for things like schools, highways and community resources."

Visitors to the Count Me In! exhibition will see the very words that established the census more than two centuries ago in Rhode Island's copy of The Constitution of the United States from 1790. Visitors will also learn how the data collected in the census has changed over the decades, how the methods for gathering that data have evolved, and see stark examples of why that data is so important.

"For example, Rhode Island once had three representatives in Congress," said Secretary Gorbea. "Following the 1930 Census, we were down to two. And after the 2020 Census, we could be down to a single representative - cutting our voice in Congress in half. It's a powerful reminder of why it's so important that we have a complete count in Rhode Island next year."

The Count Me In! exhibition opens on Thursday, November 7th and runs through March 2020. The Rhode Island State Archives is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 337 Westminster Street in Providence. Two-hour validated parking is available during business hours at Down City Parking adjacent to the State Archives building at the corner of Westminster and Snow Streets.

The Rhode Island State Archives is home to more than 10 million records dating back to 1638. Rhode Island is one of the only states in the country that houses its State Archives in a commercially-leased office space. Secretary Gorbea is working to build a new State Archives and History Center to meet standards set by the National Archives and Records Administration, while ensuring that the public has access to Rhode Island's historic collections.


Related links

  • Department or agency: Office of the Secretary of State
  • Online:
  • Release date: 11-07-2019

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