Rhode Island Historical Records Repositories Directory

State and Local Government Agencies
Academic Libraries and Archives
Historical and Preservation Societies
Public and Private Libraries
Museums and Armories

Museums and Armories

American Diner Museum
Mailing address: P.O. Box 6022, Providence, RI 02940
TEL: (401) 723.4342
Contact: Daniel Zilka, Chair, Acquisitions and Collections
Hours: Appointment required.

Holdings (Inclusive dates: 1920-1960s):
The museum's collection includes historic photographs of diners, diner manufacturer literature and records, artifacts from diners, postcards, matchbooks and videotapes of individuals employed at diner manufacturing companies.

Bristol Train of Artillery Armory/Museum
Mailing address: 1 Sousa Street Bristol, RI 02809
Street address: 135 State Street, Bristol, RI 02809
TEL: (401) 253-3453
Contact: Ron Roscoe
Hours: By appointment only.

Holdings (Inclusive dates: 1776-present):
The Bristol Train of Artillery Armory/Museum collection includes photographs, scrapbooks, drawings, paintings of events. Some records from the Civil War, but much has been lost. Some exhibits of guns, uniforms, flags, hats, helmets, swords and other militaria.

Cape Verdean Museum Exhibit
Mailing address: P.O. Box 14187
Street address: 1003 Waterman Avenue, East Providence, RI 02914
TEL: (401) 228-7292
Contact: Denise Oliveira, President
Hours: Thursday and Friday 1:00 pm-5:00 pm, Saturday 12:00 pm-4:00 pm.

Holdings: The CVME has one of the largest collections of books in English relating to the history and culture of Cape Verde and Cape Verdean Americans. From early reports on the slave trade to rare Independence-era pamphlets, the library has a unique, non-circulating collection. In addition, they also have a number of hard to find documentaries about life on the islands and a substantial map collection. The exhibits in the museum cover many areas- whaling, the cranberry industry, arts and crafts, immigration to Rhode Island and Massachusetts, independence from Portugal, the longshoremen and the communities of Fox Point, East Providence and New Bedford.

Daggett House, Daughters of the American Revolution: Pawtucket Chapter
Mailing address: c/o Mrs. Joslin Brooks, 16 Second St., Pawtucket, RI 02861
Street address: Slater Memorial Park, Pawtucket RI
TEL: (401) 722-6931
Contact: : Mrs. Joslin Brooks, Vice-regent
Hours: Appointment required.

Holdings (Inclusive dates: ca. 1600s-1900s):
The Daggett House is the oldest standing house in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and was home to 8 generations of Daggetts. It was sold to the city of Pawtucket in 1894, and restoration began in 1902 by the Daughters of the American Revolution. The collection includes records, books, papers, photographs and period clothes that have been donated by friends, chapter members and the Dagett family. At this time no specific inventory is available, but collections focus on the Revolutionary War, Civil War, local history and genealogy, particularly in relation to the Daggett family.

Friends of the Kingston Station
Mailing address: P.O. Box 191, West Kingston, RI 02892
TEL: (401) 789-5374
Contact: Martha McCabe
Hours: call for hours

Holdings (Inclusive dates: 1835-present):
A new railroad history museum is scheduled to open in 2002 in the south side of the Kingston Train Station. A History and Technology Committee meets the 3rd Tuesday of each month to plan exhibits and offer stories about railroad history. Meetings are open to the public. Holdings include actual railroad artifacts, a model railroad setup, books, posters, videos and photographs.

Gilbert Stuart Museum
815 Gilbert Stuart Road, Saunderstown, RI 02874
TEL: (401) 294-3001
FAX: (401) 294-3869
Contact: Margaret O'Connor,Director:
Hours: Monday, Thursday-Sunday 11:00 am-4:00 pm; closed major holidays and November to April.
Appointment required to use research materials.

Holdings (Inclusive dates: 1800s-present):
The Museum's archives focus primarily on the life, art and colonial time of the master portrait artist Gilbert Stuart. Special events at the Museum are recorded in brochures, flyers, scrapbooks, photos and postcards. Pictures date from the 1800's to 2002.

Gloucester Light Infantry, R.I. Militia
Mailing address: P.O. Box 951, Chepachet, RI 02818 Street address: 33 Dorr Drive, Gloucester, RI 02818
TEL: (401) 294-3001
FAX: (401) 294-3869
Contact: Captain Pam Provost, Recording Secretary or Lieutenant Ellen Arias, Corresponding Secretary
Hours: 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month at 2200 hours.

Holdings: Photos of re-enactments, parades, ceremonies, events, etc...

Governor Stephen Hopkins House, National Society of Colonial Dames in RI
Mailing address: c/o Mary Jean Freeman, 100 Alumni Avenue, Providence, RI 02906
Street address: 15 Hopkins Street, Providence, RI 02903
TEL: (401) 751-0578
Contact: Mary Jean ("Mimi") Freeman, Chairman
Hours: Appointment required to use research materials.

Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Brown University
300 Tower Street, Bristol, RI 02809
TEL: (401) 253-8388
FAX: (401) 253-1198
Contact: Kevin P. Smith, Deputy Director & Chief Curator
Hours: Saturday & Sunday 11:00 am-5:00 pm; Memorial Day-Labor Day: Tuesday-Sunday 11:00 am-5:00 pm.

Holdings (Inclusive dates: 1700-present):
The Museum's collections include photographs, maps and other materials pertaining to local history and Native Americans. The Museum also has ethnographic material of a world wide scope.

Herreshoff Marine Museum
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 450, Bristol, RI 02809
Street address: One Burnside Street, Bristol, RI 02809
TEL: (401) 253-5000
FAX: (401) 253-6222
Contact: John Palmieri, Curator, or Norene Rickson, Librarian
Hours: Open daily 10:00 am-5:00 pm from May 1 to November 1.
Appointment required to use research materials.

Holdings (Inclusive dates: 1840-present):
The Museum's archives focus primarily on the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company (1865-1945), the vessels designed and manufactured by the company, the Herreshoff family, and the America's Cup International Race Competition. The collection includes the papers, manuscripts and designs of Nathanael G. Herreshoff and his builder's half-model collection. The library contains over 5000 books on marine subjects, scrapbooks, company records, diaries, log books, maps, charts and town records. The photograph collection includes 650 original glass plate negatives, 2000 images from 1870's to present.

Holocaust Education and Resource Center of Rhode Island
401 Elmgrove Ave, Providence, RI 02906
TEL: (401) 453-7860
FAX: (401) 861-9246
Contact: May-Ronny Zeidman, Executive Director
Hours: Monday-Friday 9:30 am-5:00 pm, please call for appointment.

Holdings: Our facility houses a library, artifacts from the era, an audio-visual collection, and a memorial garden. Materials are available for check-out by teachers, students and group leaders, and our facility is open to the public. Our speakers present to area schools, and survivors of the Holocaust share their personal experiences with students. We also offer workshops for educators.

International Tennis Hall of Fame
194 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI 02840
TEL: (401) 849-3990
FAX: (401) 849-8780
Contact: Mark S. Young, II, Archivist/Librarian
Open: Monday-Friday 9:00 am-5:00 pm; Appointment required.

Holdings (Inclusive dates: 1880-present):
Collections relate to the history of international tennis as well as the history of tennis in the United States. The Tennis Hall of Fame also has material related to the shingle style architecture of McKim, Mead and White's Newport Casino and the Newport Casino as a setting for Newport Society.

Museum of Natural History and Planetarium
Roger Williams Park, Providence RI 02905
TEL: (401) 785-9457 ext. 248
FAX: (401) 461-5146
Contact: Marilyn Massaro, Curator of Collections
Open: Museum open daily 10:00 am-5:00 pm; Appointment required to visit collections in storage.

Holdings (Inclusive dates: 1890s-present):
The Museum's archives focus chiefly on the City of Providence Parks Department, especially Roger Williams Park and its National Register buildings. Special emphasis on the Museum's programs and exhibits is recorded in brochures, bulletins, scrapbooks, journals, correspondence and photographs. The photoarchives include antiquarian lantern slides and glassplate negatives depicting the historical landscape of the Park and other natural history subjects.

Museum of Newport Irish History
Mailing address: 6 Wedgewood Drive, Middletown, RI 02842
TEL: (401) 847-2890
FAX: (401) 847-2890
Contact: Vincent Arnold, President
Hours: call for appointment.

Holdings (Inclusive dates: 1909- ):
Log books of records of Division #2 Ancient Order of Hibernians, Newport, from 1904 through 1930's. Records of Hibernian Rifles from 1906. Videos of interviews regarding the Irish in Newport.

Museum of Primitive Art and Culture
Mailing address: P.O. Box A, Peace Dale, RI 02883
Street address: 1058 Kingstown Road, Room 4, Peace Dale, RI 02883
TEL: (401) 783-5711
Contact: Eleanor Freda, Museum Director, or Sarah P.Turnbaugh,Curator
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 10:00 am-2:00 pm and by appointment; summer hours vary.
Appointment required to use research materials.

Holdings (Inclusive dates: 1892-present):
The Museum's archives focus on the original collections acquired in the early founding years of the Museum. Collection and accession files are strongest for the Museum's founder, Rowland G. Hazard II, and for the eminent geologist, William Phipps Blake. Museum exhibits, programs and activities are recorded in brochures, newsletters, scrapbooks, correspondence and photographs. The photo archives include images of the installation of the exhibits in the Gallery as well as slides and photographs of artifacts and activities.

Museum of Work and Culture
42 South Main Street, Woonsocket, RI 02895
TEL: (401) 769-9675
FAX: (401) 767-2905
Contact: Raymond H. Bacon, or Anne D. Conway
Hours: Monday-Friday 9:30 am-4:00 pm; Saturday 10:00 am-5:00 pm; Sunday 1:00 pm-5:00 pm.
Appointment recommended to use research materials.

Holdings (Inclusive dates: 1869-present):
The Museum of Work and Culture tells the story of French Canadian immigrants who left Quebec to come to work in the mills and factories of Woonsocket. Visitors begin their tour at a rural Quebec farm house and journey through the work day world of Woonsocket's residents from the early twentieth century to the present. On the shop floor of a textile mill, from the front porch of a three family tenement, in church, in school, in the union hall, visitors are immersed in a narrative of the working class in America.

Operated by the Rhode Island Historical Society, the museum includes six walk through displays, two movies, many interactive audio presentations and hundreds of photographs. A predominate theme of the museum is the transformation immigrants undergo in "becoming American".

Naval War College Museum
686 Cushing Road, Newport, RI 02841
TEL (401) 841-4052/1317
FAX (401) 841-7689
Contact: John Hattendorf, Director
Open: Monday-Friday 10:00 am-4:00 pm; Appointment recommended.

Holdings (Inclusive dates: 1880s-present):
The collections of the Naval War College Museum relate to the history of naval warfare and the naval history of the Narragansett Bay region. The Museum's picture collection consists of prints, engravings, photographs, related media and scrapbooks of miscellaneous illustrations. The art collection consists of paintings, drawings and sculpture.

New England Wireless and Steam Museum
1300 Frenchtown Road, East Greenwich, RI 02818
TEL: (401) 885-0545
Contact: Robert W. Merriam, Director
Hours: By appointment only.

The New England Wireless and Steam Museum consists of five buildings as shown in the image below. The red building on the left houses the wireless collection. The next building to the right is the Massie Wireless System station, "PJ", built in 1907. It is the oldest surviving working wireless station in the world. It was moved to this site from Point Judith, RI in 1982 to avoid demolition. The building in the center houses the stationary steam engine collection. This collection includes the only surviving George H. Corliss engine running under steam today. The next building to the right is the Mayes building named in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Thorn L. Mayes, longtime supporters of the museum. The Mayes building houses the Mechanical Engineering library and the collection of steam engine models. The building at the far right is a meeting house built in 1822. This building was also moved to this site in 1972 to save it from demolition.

Newport Art Museum
76 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI 02840
TEL: (401) 848-8200
FAX: (401) 848-8205
Contact: Nancy Whipple Grinnell, Curator
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:00 am-4:00 pm, Sunday 12:00 pm-4:00 pm (Columbus Day through Memorial Day);
Monday-Saturday 10:00 am-5:00 pm, Sunday 12:00 pm-5:00 pm (Memorial Day through Columbus Day)

The Newport Art Museum collects, preserves, exhibits and interprets historic and contemporary visual arts of the highest quality with an emphasis on the rich artistic heritage of Newport, the state of Rhode Island and southeastern New England. The Museum's collections and exhibitions focus on the visual arts of Newport and Rhode Island, reflecting both the lively art scene of the present and the rich heritage of the past. The collections include works by nineteenth century artists such as Winslow Homer, Fitz Hugh Lane, George Inness, John Frederick Kensett, William Trost Richards, and Julia Overing Boit. Contemporary artists represented in the collection include Dale Chihuly, Fairfield Porter, and Sigmund Albeles.

The Archives of the Newport Art Museum and Art Association contain material relating to the history of the Art Association of Newport, as it was originally known, since its founding in 1912. Included are scrapbooks containing newspaper clippings and exhibition announcements, annual reports, and correspondence between the Association's early officers and exhibiting artists, who were both national and international.

Providence Jewelry Museum
Mailing address: P.O. Box 9650, Providence, RI 02940-9650
Street address: One Spectacle Street, Cranston, RI 02910
TEL: (401) 781-3100
FAX: (401) 781-2890
Hours: By appointment only.

Holdings (Inclusive dates: 1870's-present):
Collections include the machinery, tools and components used in manufacturing jewelry, and approximately 1000 pieces of 20th century costume jewelry. The library consists of about 120 reference and art books; trade and fashion publications in English, German, French and Italian; photocopies of the "Manufacturing Jeweler", 1885-1900. Additional holdings include jewelry advertisements from 1945-present; photographs of jewelry workers; signs from jewelry companies; jewelry designers' drawings; plating formulae notebooks.

Slater Mill Historic Site
Mailing address: P.O. Box 696, Pawtucket, RI 02862-0696
Street address: Roosevelt Avenue, Pawtucket, RI 02862-0696
TEL: (401) 725-8638
FAX: (401) 722-0304
Contact: Adrian Paquette, Curator
Hours: Monday-Friday 9:00 am-5:00 pm; Appointment required.

The resources of the Slater Mill Historic Site consist of its three historic buildings and collections of domestic and industrial artifacts associated with American industrial heritage; specifically the manufacture of textiles, power generation, machine tools, and textile machinery. The collection includes photographs, maps, video and audio tapes, a library, manuscript collections and archives.

Smith's Castle, Cocumscussoc Association
55 Richard Smith Drive, Wickford, RI 02852
TEL: (401) 294-3521
Contact: Neil Dunay, Director
Hours: Thursday-Monday 12:00 pm-4:00 pm (June, July, August); Friday-Sunday 12:00 pm-4:00 pm (May, September, October)
Appointment required.

Holdings (Inclusive dates: 1949-present):
The Museum is the 1678 house built by Richard Smith Jr. and updated in 1740 by Daniel Updike, when it was the seat of one of the largest of the Narragansett Plantations. The archives consist solely of the records of the Cocumcussoc Association since its founding in 1949. They include some records and photographs relating to the first renovation by John H. Cady (1950's) and the latest renovation in the mid-1990's.

South County Museum
Mailing address: Box 709, Narragansett, RI 02882
Street address: Strathmore Street, Narragansett, RI 02882
TEL: (401) 783-5400
FAX: (401) 783-0506
Contact: Suzi Ballenger, Executive Director
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday 10:00 am-4:00 pm, Sunday 12:00 pm-4:00 pm (July, August); Friday-Saturday 10:00 am-4:00 pm, Sunday 12:00 pm-4:00 pm (May, June, September, October); appointments required for research; educational programs offered year-round.

Holdings (Inclusive dates: ca 1730-1950):
The museum, founded in 1933, is located on Canonchet, the former estate of Rhode Island Governor, Senator and Civil War hero William Sprague. It has some 22,000 historical artifacts and its exhibits depict the life and work of Rhode Islanders in the Victorian era. Its buildings house exhibits on blacksmithing, carpentry, printing, weaving, and life and work at sea. The Living Farm exhibit is home to a heritage flock of Rhode Island Reds. Holdings include stereoscope cards, post cards, newspapers, Civil War letters, photographs, trade magazines, sheet music, weaving patterns, manuscripts, agricultural records, books, trade cards, maps, ledgers.

Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum
390 Summit Road, Exeter, RI 02822-1808
TEL: (401) 539-7213
Contact: Loren Spears, Director, or Kate April, Archivist
Hours: Appointment required.

Collections include Eva Butler papers, Princess Red Wing Papers and papers of the Narragansett Indian Tribe.

Touro Synagogue
85 Touro Street, Newport, RI 02840
TEL: (401) 847-4794
FAX: (401) 847-8121
Contact: Meryle Cawley, Coordinator Membership and Visitor Services
Hours: Appointment required.

Holdings (Inclusive dates: ca. 1700s-present):
The Synagogue holds a collection of documents (some original, most copies) representing the Jewish-American experience in Rhode Island, specifically the Newport area.

Varnum Memorial Armory Museum
6 Main St., East Greenwich, RI 02818
TEL: (401) 884-4110
Contact: Donald E. Marcum, Curator
Hours: By appointment only.

Holdings (Inclusive dates: 1697-present):
The Varnum Armory Museum collection includes books, posters, papers, newspapers, scrapbooks, and military/ship photographs. Our book collection, dating from 1781, relates to the military with emphasis on drill manuals. The poster collection consists of some 800 original WWI and WWII posters dating from 1915 to 1945. Our document collection consists of items dating from 1697 to late 19th century with emphasis on Rhode Island militia. We have numerous pictures and prints relating to the military and including some 500 pictures of sailing and early steam ships, many taken by William Covell and Ralph Arnold of Newport. Miscellaneous items include records of the United Train of Artillery, Spanish-American War newspapers, and several old ships logs.

Washington Lodge No.3, Free and Accepted Masons
Masonic Temple, 39 Baker Street, Warren, RI 02885
TEL: (401) 245-3293
Contact: Michael H. Cunningham
Hours: Appointment required.

Holdings (Inclusive dates: 1796-1940s):
Various manuscripts, record books, photographs and documents of the Washington Lodge dated from 1796 forward. Building documents related to construction of the lodge in 1798-99 are also present. Oil paintings of some former members and other interesting decorations. The temple has been a significant part of Warren throughout history. It was the home of the Warren Town Hall until the present one was built.

Westerly Armory
Mailing address: P.O. Box 614, Westerly, RI 02891
TEL: (401) 596-8554
FAX: (401) 596-9529
Contact: Roberta Humble, President, Executive Board
Hours: Monday & Thursday: 9:00 am-4:00 pm minus lunch. Appointment recommended.

1. Local military memorabilia including paperwork of local men and women having served as well as documents listing locals serving as far back as the Civil War. Military books including early Army manuals and other service branch manuals. 2. Westerly Band library (upstairs at the Armory) includes original sheet music for the entire band, dating back to the 1850s. Also includes displays of the Band's history. The Westerly Band is the oldest active civic band in the country. 3. Local community memorabilia which includes early Westerly documents such as editions of The Westerly Sun (first newspaper in the nation to announce the bombings at Pearl Harbor), vintage post-cards of the area, vintage documents from early Westerly businesses. On hand is a very early two dollar note from The Washington Trust Company, the oldest community bank in the nation. The Westerly Armory is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Save America's Treasures Site.

Whitehall Museum House, National Society of Colonial Dames in RI
Mailing address: c/o Maris Humphreys, 129 Ethel Drive, Portsmouth, RI 02871
Street address: 311 Berkeley Ave., Middletown, RI 02842
TEL: (401) 683-4121 or 683-7595
Contact: Nancy P. Bredbeck, Chairman, or Maris Humphreys, Archivist
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10:00 am-4:00 pm (July & August) and by appointment.
Appointment required to use research materials.
Holdings (Inclusive dates: 1890s-present):
General correspondence, letters, bills, some photographs and scrapbooks. Headquarters of the International Berkeley Society.

State and Local Government Agencies
Academic Libraries and Archives
Historical and Preservation Societies
Public and Private Libraries
Museums and Armories