Founded in 1822, the RIHS is the fourth-oldest state historical society in the United States. It is a private organization, founded and supported by its membership.


The RIHS holds the largest and most important historical collections relating to Rhode Island. These collections include 25,000 museum objects, more than 100,000 printed books, 110,000 photographs, 3,400 sound recordings (including oral histories and music), 9 million feet of moving picture film, over 1,100 manuscript collections (measuring over 7,000 linear feet), 3,400 maps, 20,000 prints, 16,000 pieces of ephemera, 15,000 architectural drawings, and several smaller, miscellaneous categories of historical holdings. These collections grow every year, due to gifts and purchases.

The RIHS owns and maintains the John Brown House Museum (52 Power Street, Providence), a National Historic Landmark built in 1788; the Aldrich House (110 Benevolent Street, Providence), also a National Historic Landmark, built in 1822; and the Library (121 Hope Street, Providence). The organization also maintains the Museum of Work and Culture (42 South Main Street, Woonsocket), a regional history museum devoted to the history of northern Rhode Island.

Through the Newell D. Goff Center for Education and Public Programs, the RIHS offers a variety of educational programs, including workshops, lectures, films, and walking tours of Providence. The Center also provides many professional development opportunities for teachers wanting to learn more about teaching Rhode Island’s history. The RIHS also presents exhibits, films, concerts, and many other community activities and programs. Its collections catalog is available online, as are all issues of its journal, Rhode Island History.

As we preserve the past, our members ensure our future through membership fees, special gifts, and donations to the collections. Rhode Island’s history is the story of all the people who have lived here. We need your help to tell those stories.

Please join us as we explore Rhode Island’s past.