Skip to Main Content

Rhode Island: Local History & Genealogy Resource Guide

Compiled by reference specialists at the Library of Congress, this guide identifies key print and online resources for pursuing family history, as well as state, county and municipal historical research, for the state of Rhode Island.


Map of Newport County, Rhode Island 1850. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Rhode Island is a state in the Northeastern United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area and the seventh-least populous. Rhode Island was founded by Roger Williams, a refugee who fled religious prosecution to establish a haven for religious liberty. Rhode Island was the first colony to call for a Continental Congress, in 1774, and the first to renounce its allegiance to the British Crown. Rhode Island was admitted to the Union as the 13th state on May 29, 1790.

This guide offers a selection of resources and strategies for Rhode Island local history and genealogy research. These include the print and digital collections of the Library of Congress, as well as external repositories and web sites key to finding forebears in the Ocean state.

About Local History & Genealogy Reference Services

The Library of Congress has one of the world's premier collections of U.S. and foreign genealogical and local historical publications, numbering more than 50,000 compiled family histories and over 100,000 U.S. local histories. The Library's genealogy collection began as early as 1815 with the purchase of Thomas Jefferson's library.