Our Mission

Honoring, interpreting, and sharing Rhode Island’s past to enrich the present and inspire the future.

Statement of Purpose

As an important cultural institution in Rhode Island, we use materials and knowledge of the past to explore topics of timeless relevance and current public interest and benefit. Inside and outside of the walls of our buildings, the RIHS encourages broad engagement in the diversity of experiences we offer. We develop and deploy our collections, knowledge, connections, and expertise to build relationships between individuals, organizations, and communities to enhance understanding and empathy, and to engender pride of place.

The Rhode Island Historical Society Fast Facts

  • The RIHS is the only state-wide history organization in Rhode Island.
  • Founded in 1822, we are the fourth oldest historical society in the nation.
  • The RIHS includes two museums, a research center, and two historic houses. In addition, we act as a steward of three land parcels related to King Philip’s war.
  • We are the first Smithsonian Affiliate in Rhode Island.
  • More than 30 staff members and 145 volunteers make all of our work possible.
  • We serve 25,000 in-person visitors and 130,000 virtual visitors annually.
  • Our collection includes 20,000 objects, including armaments, furnishings, paintings, textiles, sculptures, toys, adornments, tools, vehicles, and more.
  • In addition, we hold over 10 million pages of manuscripts and 9 million feet of moving picture film.
  • We also preserve and care for over 100,000 books, 194,000 photographs, 3,000 maps, 19,000 prints, 900 broadsides, 4,000 drawings, 20,000 architectural drawings, 3,000 sound recordings, and 16,000 pieces of emphera.
  • The RIHS is a leading contributor to both the education and tourism sectors of Rhode Island’s economy.