Vital & Probate Records
The library has Rhode Island vital records from 1636 to 1920. More specifically, the library has births to 1898, marriages to 1900, and deaths to 1920. Vital records earlier than 1853 have to be searched by town. State vital record indexes exist for the period 1853 to 1900 (marriages, births) and 1853 to 1920 (deaths).
Additionally, the library has an out-of-state death index from 1900 to 1948, and out-of-state death records for the year 1948. The collection also includes delayed birth records (births not recorded at the time of the birth) from 1846 to1895, with a corresponding index from 1846 to 1898.
For births and marriages within the last 100 years, and deaths within the last 50 years, please contact the Rhode Island Office of Vital Records. Records for births and marriages more than 100 years ago, and deaths more than 50 years ago, can be accessed at the Rhode Island State Archives.
The library has microfilmed probate records and/or wills for many Rhode Island cities and towns. A good starting point for accessing pre-1850 Rhode Island wills is the Rhode Island Genealogical Register, which contains Rhode Island will abstracts from the 17th century to the mid-19th century. The Register is available in printed and CD-ROM format, and is located in the first floor reading room. The reference staff can help you determine if the library has probate or wills for the city or town in which you are interested.
The library does not have divorce records. Divorce records are held at the Rhode Island Judicial Records Center.
For contact information for Rhode Island cities and towns, please click here.