The RIHS receives a high volume of research inquiries via email, phone, and post. We will, to the best of our ability, answer reference questions as quickly as possible, in the order in which they arrive.

Our staff will be in touch if your request will take longer than 5 business days.  

We offer reference services for specific questions on basic genealogy, manuscript collections, and Rhode Island history. We do not offer extensive, personal research services.

For more in-depth research, we will advise you as to whether the library has the necessary materials for you to come in and use, or direct you to other sources of information, or suggest the services of an Independent Researcher. We are unable to do in-depth historical or genealogical research.

Please see the Research Tools page of our web site for an overview of the resources available at RIHS Library.


Submit your Reference Request

Requests should be specific in nature. Please include enough information with your request to provide a context for your question (e.g., names and dates of people, the purpose of your research.)

Examples of specific requests:

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 died on January 15th, 1923 in Woonsocket, RI? Obituary requests must include a death date.

Examples of requests that are too general:

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?

For these kinds of broad requests, please see our list of local Independent Researchers.

Email requests:

Mail requests: RIHS Library, 121 Hope St. Providence, R.I. 02906

Telephone: (401) 273-8107 x410

The RIHS 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.