Rhode Island Archives and Libraries

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Rhode Island Wiki Topics
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Beginning Research
Record Types
Rhode Island Background
Cultural Groups
Local Research Resources

These repositories preserve sources, maintain indexes, and provide services to help genealogists document their ancestors who lived in Rhode Island.

Wiki Articles on Major Repositories for Rhode Island[edit | edit source]

American Antiquarian Society · American-French Genealogical Society · Brown University Rockefeller Library · Davisville Free Library · East Greenwich Free Library · Judicial Records Center · National Archives at Boston · New England Historic Genealogical Society · Newport Historical Society · Providence City Hall · Providence Public Library · Rhode Island Genealogical Society · Rhode Island Historical Society · Rhode Island State Archives · Rhode Island State Library · Roger William University Library · Tiverton Public Library · University of Rhode Island Carothers Library · Westerly Public Library

Online Records of Rhode Island[edit | edit source]

RI ORP.png
Links to online databases and indexes that may include vital records, biographies, cemeteries, censuses, histories, immigration records, land records, maps, military records, naturalizations, newspapers, obituaries, or probate records.

National Archives at Boston (in Waltham MA)

National Repositories[edit | edit source]

National Archives at Boston[edit | edit source]

380 Trapelo Road
Waltham, MA 02452-6399
Phone: (781) 663-0130
Fax: (781) 663-0154
E-mail: waltham.archives@nara.gov
Website: National Archives at Boston

The National Archives at Boston collects Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island documents, photos, and maps of 80 federal agencies, War of 1812, fortifications, coastal facilities, World War II research at Harvard and MIT, federal bankruptcy courts, First Circuit Court of Appeals, Navy, Coast Guard, westward expansion, ethnology, genealogy, Revolutionary War, Civil War, captured German records, territorial papers, censuses, passenger arrival records for Boston and New England, and Canadian border crossings.[1]

Statewide Repositories[edit | edit source]

Judicial Records Center[edit | edit source]

5 Hill Street
Pawtucket, Rhode Island 02860
Telephone: 401-721-2641
Website: Judicial Records Center

Rhode Island state and county civil, criminal, and divorce cases 1671-1900, and naturalizations 1671-1982.[2]

Rhode Island Genealogical Society[edit | edit source]

P.O. Box 433
Greenville, RI 02828
Email: info@rigensoc.org
Website: Rhode Island Genealogical Society

Website provides some listings of holdings in Rhode Island libraries pertaining to RI genealogical and historical research. Some online resources available to members only.

Rhode Island Historical Society[edit | edit source]

RI Historical Society in Providence

121 Hope Street
Providence, RI 02906
Telephone: 401-331-8575
Fax: 401-351-0127
Website: Rhode Island Historical Society

Houses the state's largest genealogical collection including local histories, manuscripts, census, cemetery, military, economic, social, church records, family Bibles, family histories, newspapers, genealogy, women’s history, and business records.[3]

Rhode Island State Archives[edit | edit source]

337 Westminster Street
Providence, RI 02903-3302
Telephone: 401-277-2353
Fax: 401-277-3199
E-mail: Contact Us e-mail form
Website: Rhode Island State Archives

The earliest town records collection from 1638 to the present, state censuses at ten year intervals between 1865-1935; state birth and marriage records for the years 1853-1897, state deaths for the years 1853-1947; and military records. The archives also maintains a large map collection.[3]

Rhode Island State Library[edit | edit source]

State Library in RI State House, Providence

State House 2nd floor
82 Smith St
Providence, RI 02903
Telephone: 401-222-2473
Fax: 401-222-3034
E-mail: statelibrary@sos.ri.gov
Website: Rhode Island State Library

They have the largest book collection in the state, including almost all state and town histories, biographies, and genealogies.[3]

Regional Repositories[edit | edit source]

Amer-French Gen Soc in Woonsocket

American-French Genealogical Society[edit | edit source]

P.O. Box 2010
78 Earle Street
Woonsocket, RI 02895
Telephone: 401-765-6141
Fax: 401-765-6141
E-mail: database@afgs.org
Website: American-French Genealogical Society

Has collections pertaining to cultural, genealogical, historical and biographical matter relating to Americans of French and French Canadian descent. Collections include databases, cemetery, headstone and obituary records, as well as French-American marriage records for Rhode Island (see The Forget Files). The website has genealogy links and includes a section on Acadian heritage.

Brown Univ Rockefeller Library in Providence

Brown University Rockefeller Library[edit | edit source]

10 Prospect Street / Box A
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: 401-863-2165
E-mail: rock@brown.edu
Website: Brown University Rockefeller Library

Virtually a second state archives with a huge book collection, manuscripts regarding New England settlers, biographies, and genealogies.[3]

Davisville Free Library[edit | edit source]

Davisville Free Public Library

481 Davisville Road
North Kingstown, RI 02852
Telephone: 401-884-5524
E-mail: askref@askri.org
Website: Davisville Free Library

This a good book collection with good genealogical reference works. It includes genealogical periodicals and family folders.[3]

East Greenwich Free Library[edit | edit source]

82 Peirce Street
East Greenwich, RI 02818
Telephone: 401-884-9510
E-mail: E-mail a Librarian form
Website: East Greenwich Free Library

Researchers will find town histories, digital RI newspaper archives, and the RI Sanborn map collection online (this last requires user ID and password). Also, they have a good collection of genealogical reference books periodicals, and family folders.[3]

Newport Historical Society

Newport Historical Society[edit | edit source]

82 Touro Street
Newport, RI 02840
Telephone: 401-846-0813
E-mail: bsullivan@newporthistorical.org
Website: Newport Historical Society

The Library dates to the founding of the Newport Historical Society in 1854 and includes works on the history of Newport County and the surrounding area. The collection contains approximately 12,000 volumes reflecting the settlement and development of Newport County. Because Rhode Island was established by settlers and refugees from other colonies, the collection includes works on early Southeastern New England families and governments that contributed to the history of Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations. Also included are general reference works.
Providence City Hall

Providence City Archives[edit | edit source]

25 Dorrance Street
Providence, RI 02903
Telephone: 401-421-7740
E-mail: City Archives e-mail contact form
Website: Providence City Archives

Holdings include early town records, vital records (including indexes to births, marriages, and deaths 1636 to mid-20th century - some restrictions may apply), tax records, probate records and indices, various property records, records of government proceedings, etc. For additional information, see Basic Holdings and Research.

Providence Public Library

Providence Public Library[edit | edit source]

150 Empire Street
Providence, RI 02903
Telephone: 401-455-8000
E-mail: askref@askri.org
Website: Providence Public Library

This is a very good collection of published genealogies, biographies, periodicals and family folders.[3]

Roger Williams University Library[edit | edit source]

Roger Williams University Library in Bristol

One Old Ferry Road
Bristol, RI 02809
Telephone: 800-458-7144, or 401-253-1040
E-mail: libref@rwu.edu
Website: RWU University Libraries

Their huge book selection includes periodicals, newspapers, biography indexes, genealogies, family folders and histories, indexes and the largest Baptist collection in New England.[3]

Tiverton Public Library[edit | edit source]

34 Roosevelt Avenue
Tiverton, RI 02878
Telephone: 401-625-6796
E-mail: staff@tivertonlibrary.org
Website: Tiverton Public Library

They have a good collection of published genealogies.[3]

University of RI Carothers Library in Kingston

University of Rhode Island Carothers Library[edit | edit source]

15 Lippitt Road
Kingston, RI 02881
Telephone: 401.874.2672
E-mail: libadmin@etal.uri.edu
Website: University Libraries

This collection has books, maps, biographies, and histories about Rhode Island residents.[3]

Westerly Public Library[edit | edit source]

Westerly Public Library

44 Broad Street
Westerly, RI 02981
Telephone: 401-596-2877 x3
E-mail: cbadowski@westerlylibrary.org
Website: Westerly Library and Wilcox Park

There large genealogical book collection includes family folders, family histories, and indexes regarding Rhode Island families.[3]

Outside of Rhode Island Repositories[edit | edit source]

American Antiquarian Society[edit | edit source]

American Antiquarian Society in Worcester MA

185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, Massachusetts 01609-1634
Telephone: 508-755-5221
Fax: 508-753-3311
E-mail: Library@americanantiquarian.org
Website: American Antiquarian Society

The AAS is best known for its U.S. newspaper collection of over 18,000 bound volumes 1704-1820, history, genealogy, Bibles, maps, biography, directories, Native Americans, women, canals, railroads, photos, manuscripts.[4] They have Rhode Island vital records, newspapers, and town histories. One of the best genealogy centers in America.[5]

New England Historic Genealogical Society[edit | edit source]

NEHGS 101 Newbury St in Boston

101 Newbury Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116-3007
Telephone:  617-536-5740; Library 617-226-1231
Fax:  617-536-7307
E-mail:  info@nehgs.org
Website: AmericanAncestors.org

Best overall collection for New England (and Rhode Island) vital records and probates, and excellent collection for Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, and Europe. The manuscript collection for members-only has diaries, letters, account books, business papers, church and town records, sermons, maps, wills, deeds, unpublished town and family genealogies, photos, and papers of the region's best genealogists since 1850.[6] [7] [8]

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Some of the above collections are partially duplicated at the Family History Library and its branch Family History Centers around the world. Most centers can help you by:

  • Giving you limited, personal, one-on-one research suggestions (but they do not do research for you)
  • Providing access to genealogical records either through the Internet FHC Portal, or a microfilm loan program
  • Offering free how-to classes (varies by location).
  • Fostering contact between genealogical enthusiasts

There are several centers located in Rhode Island, for example:

Providence Rhode Island Family History Center
1000 Narragansett Pkwy
Warwick, RI 02888-4713 USA
Telephone: 401-463-8150.
Each center is staffed by volunteers and has varying hours and services. Telephone in advance to verify their hours.

To locate one of these centers in your own neighborhood, see Find a Family History Center.

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

  • Clarence S. Brigham, Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1903, Volume 1 (Washington, D.C.: American Historical Association, 1904) WorldCat 1150082; FHL film 896553 item 2; book 973 C4ah. An important inventory of manuscript records including Rhode Island state, county, and town archives.

Sources[edit | edit source]

  1. William Dollarhide and Ronald A. Bremer. America's Best Genealogy Resource Centers (Bountiful, Utah: Heritage Quest, 1998), 124. WorldCat 39493985; FHL Ref Book 973 J54d.
  2. Archives-Research in Judicial Records Center (accessed 11 April 2015).
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 Dollarhide and Bremer, 99.
  4. Dollarhide and Bremer, 59.
  5. Dollarhide and Bremer, 53.
  6. "New England Historic Genealogical Society" in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_England_Historic_Genealogical_Society (accessed 30 August 2010).
  7. Using the NEHGS Library in American Ancestors" (accessed 21 September 2015).
  8. Dollarhide and Bremer, 5, 57, and 59.