The RIHS Library is happy to provide reference services for our collections, Rhode Island history and genealogy. Using the materials in our collections, we will provide brief answers. Please allow up to two weeks for a response, or longer during holiday season and busy times. We are unable to do in-depth historical or genealogical research.

Please see the Start Your Research page of our web site for an overview of the resources on various topics available at RIHS Library and elsewhere.

Email requests: Send to (up to two weeks response time)

Mail requests: Send to RIHS Library, 121 Hope St. Providence, R.I. 02906 (up to two weeks response time)

Telephone: Please call (401) 273-8107. Telephone requests are answered as time and staffing allow. Individuals inquiring by phone may be asked to submit the  request by mail or e-mail.

Requests are answered in the order in which they are received.

Examples of specific research questions:

  • Can you tell me what resources you have on Rhode Islanders who served in the Revolutionary War?
  • Where was the New England Butt Co. located in the late 19th century and what did the company manufacture?
  • Can you locate an obituary for my uncle Frederick, who d. 15 Jan 1923 in Woonsocket, RI? (Obituary requests must include a death date.)

Examples of general research questions for which you will need an Independent Researcher:

  • Can you give me all the information you have on the Bowen family of Providence?
  • What was the role of women during the Colonial period in Rhode Island?
  • My great-grandmother died in Pawtucket, R.I. but I don’t know when. Can you find her obituary?


The Library reserves the right to discontinue or disregard requests from professional genealogists, fee researchers or other individuals who attempt to use our reference services for monetary gain, or from patrons who utilize these services excessively.