Printed Collections

The Printed Collection materials date from 1589 to the present. The collection includes local, military, economic, social, political, ecclesiastical histories, municipal and corporate publications, and the largest collection of Rhode Island newspapers. It is especially strong in local civic history, genealogy, women’s history, and engineering, environmental and architectural history.

Many of the Society’s first donations, starting in 1822, were books. The holdings now contain over 1300 pre-1800 imprints including the pre-eminent collection of early Rhode Island Imprints and Broadsides, many of which are unique copies. Rare imprints are also held from London, Paris, Dublin, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

From Thomas W. Dorr’s personal signed copy of The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte (Hudson, N.Y.: 1810.), to the recently released Forgotten Patriots – African American and American Indian Patriots of the Revolutionary War: A Guide to Service, Sources, and Studies. (Washington D.C.: DAR, 2008.) — No other collecting institution has the depth and breadth of materials that the Rhode Island Historical Society holds on these important Rhode Island topics that affected the history of the nation.

Explore the Library’s Printed Collection using our online catalog NETOP. Locate digital editions of a limited number of early Rhode Island imprints, early histories of Rhode Island, as well as various publications of the Rhode Island Historical Society, including Rhode Island Historical Society Collections, at the HathiTrust website, a digital archive of library materials converted from print.