Rhode Island Archives and Libraries
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Wiki Articles on Major Repositories in Rhode Island
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
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
- 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.
Judicial Records Center
- Rhode Island state and county civil, criminal, and divorce cases 1671-1900, and naturalizations 1671-1982.
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 SocietyRhode Island Historical Society
121 Hope Street
Providence, RI 02906
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.
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.
Rhode Island State Library
- They have the largest book collection in the state, including almost all state and town histories, biographies, and genealogies.
American-French Genealogical SocietyAmerican-French Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 2010
78 Earle Street
Woonsocket, RI 02895
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 University Rockefeller Library
- Virtually a second state archives with a huge book collection, manuscripts regarding New England settlers, biographies, and genealogies.
Davisville Free LibraryDavisville Free Library
481 Davisville Road
North Kingstown, RI 02852
Website: Davisville Free Library
- This a good book collection with good genealogical reference works. It includes genealogical periodicals and family folders.
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.
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 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
- This is a very good collection of published genealogies, biographies, periodicals and family folders.
Roger Williams University LibraryRoger Williams University Library
One Old Ferry Road
Bristol, RI 02809
Telephone: 800-458-7144, or 401-253-1040
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.
Tiverton Public Library
- They have a good collection of published genealogies.
University of Rhode Island Carothers Library
- This collection has books, maps, biographies, and histories about Rhode Island residents.
Westerly Public LibraryWesterly Public Library
44 Broad Street
Westerly, RI 02981
Telephone: 401-596-2877 x3
Website: Westerly Library and Wilcox Park
- There large genealogical book collection includes family folders, family histories, and indexes regarding Rhode Island families.
Outside of Rhode Island Repositories
American Antiquarian SocietyAmerican Antiquarian Society
185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, Massachusetts 01609-1634
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. They have Rhode Island vital records, newspapers, and town histories. One of the best genealogy centers in America.
New England Historic Genealogical SocietyNew England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS)
101 Newbury Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116-3007
Telephone: 617-536-5740; Library 617-226-1231
- 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.  
For Further Reading
- 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.
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 124.
- Archives-Research in Judicial Records Center (accessed 11 April 2015).
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 99.
- William Dollarhide and Ronald A. Bremer. America's Best Genealogy Resource Centers (Bountiful, Utah: Heritage Quest, 1998), 59. WorldCat 39493985; FHL Ref Book 973 J54d.
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 53.
- "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).
- Using the NEHGS Library in American Ancestors" (accessed 21 September 2015).
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 5, 57, and 59.