Rhode Island Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections

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This entry was originally written by Alice Eichholz, Ph.D., CG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
RhodeIsland sil.png
the Rhode Island Family History Research series.
History of Rhode Island
Rhode Island Vital Records
Census Records for Rhode Island
Background Sources for Rhode Island
Rhode Island Maps
Rhode Island Land Records
Rhode Island Probate Records
Rhode Island Court Records
Rhode Island Tax Records
Rhode Island Cemetery Records
Rhode Island Church Records
Rhode Island Military Records
Rhode Island Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Rhode Island Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Rhode Island Immigration
Rhode Island Naturalization
Ethnic Groups of Rhode Island
Rhode Island County Resources
Map of Rhode Island


Rhode Island Roots is the quarterly of the Rhode Island Genealogical Society. Transcriptions of early Rhode Island records and family genealogies are the focus of its material.

Rhode Island Genealogical Register is an independent journal (P.O. Box 585, East Princeton, MA 01517) devoted to publishing original source material for Rhode Island.

Several periodicals were published in the past including The Newport Historical Magazine (1880'84), The Rhode Island Historical Magazine (1844'87), Rhode Island Historical Tracts (1877'96), Rhode Island Historical Society Collections (1827'1914), Rhode Island Historical Society Publications (1893'1900).

Genealogical material from the old journals is reprinted in Genealogies of Rhode Island Families from Rhode Island Periodicals, 2 vols. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1983).


The first newspaper, the Gazette, was published in Newport in 1732. Because of Rhode Island's unique position as one of the early 'jumping off' points in a highly mobile community moving west and south, its newspapers tended to carry marriage and death notices for many former residents. Arnold's volumes 12 through 21 of Vital Record carry abstracts of many of these records.

The Rhode Island Historical Society is the official repository in the state for all published newspapers; however, abstracts of vital records from them may be found in several other repositories. The Rhode Island Historical Society itself has some abstracts and indexes. One is a microfilm card index to the Providence Journal and the Providence Bulletin.


Many town and city libraries have manuscript collections consisting of personal and business papers both from the broader community and professional genealogists. The three largest of these are at Rhode Island Historical Society, Newport Historical Society (see Rhode Island Archives, Libraries, and Societies), and Brown University, John Hay Library, 1 Prospect St., Providence, RI 02912, the latter being particularly strong in nineteenth-century material.