Discover Rhode Island’s Past.
City and Town Directories
Check your local library for your city/town directories, which typically include street listings, person listings, and business listings and display ads.
Key libraries, agencies, archives and local cultural heritage institutions:
Located on the 5th floor of the Providence City Hall, the City Archives house an extensive collection of manuscripts, printed material, maps, blueprints, and photographic images that span the period from the colony’s founding in 1636 to the present.
A non-profit organization established in 1956 in response to the proposed demolition of a number of 18th- and early 19th-century houses in the College Hill neighborhood of Providence. Maintains a collection of city plans and resources back to the 1960s and resources to research Providence buildings and house histories.
Home to the Rhode Island research collection, a collection of resources for and about Rhode Island and its people.
This agency maintains permanent records related to births, deaths, marriages, and civil unions for the 39 cities and towns in Rhode Island.
The state-wide history organization in Rhode Island. Its research center contains an expansive collection of manuscripts, printed books and pamphlets, photographs, newspapers and more. Access to the research center is free for Rhode Island residents.
The Rhode Island State Archives are home to more than 10 million letters, photographs, and important state documents.
The State Library’s collection is primarily legislation-related, and includes state agency reports, executive orders, federal documents, Rhode Island Public Laws volumes, historic and current Rhode Island General Law collections, and books on Rhode Island history.
Indigenous museum that preserves cultural materials of historical significance specifically related to Indigenous culture, history, storytelling, ecology, politics and sovereignty. Focus is on late 19th, 20th and 21st century materials.
More than 1,700 newspapers have been published in Rhode Island! Check your local library for access to your local newspapers.
An ongoing initiative between the Providence Public Library and Rhode Island Historical Society to make Rhode Island’s historic newspapers freely available online.
Website that provides fully searchable access to digitized U.S. newspapers for free to anyone via the Library of Congress.
A full list of all newspapers published in the United States since 1690. Shows which papers covered a particular location and time period.
Other Important Resources
EnCompass: A Digital Sourcebook of Rhode Island History
Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission
Rhode Island History Journal
Rhode Island Slave History Medallion Project
South County History Center