Ocean State Archaeologies: Local Resources

A forum for the archaeological community of Rhode Island . . .

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Rhode Island Historical Society

The RIHS has the largest historical collections relating to Rhode Island, including some 25,000 objects, 5,000 manuscripts, 100,000 books and printed items, 400,000 photographs and maps, and 9 million feet of motion-picture film. A large amount of information is available their ‘Start Your Research’ page – or visit the RIHS Library in person at 121 Hope Street in Providence.

Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission

Office of the State Archaeologist, State Historic Preservation Officer, and numerous historical and archaeological resources. Contacts: Charlotte Taylor (401-222-4140) and Timothy Ives (401-222-4139).

Rhode Island Collection at the Providence Public Library

The Rhode Island Collection at the Providence Public Library is a research collection and community resource of materials by, for, and about Rhode Island and its people.  The collection includes published material documenting both the history and current state of Rhode Island as well as archival and visual materials with a focus on the social and cultural history of the City of Providence. The library also hosts a Genealogy Collection (which includes Providence city directories, house directories, family biographies, Arnold’s Vital Records and regimental histories of the Civil War) and numerous other Special Collections.  Visitors are welcome at any time, but appointments are strongly suggested.

Providence City Archives

This website for the City of Providence includes news, upcoming events, and helpful resources, including an online directory of Providence houses (published between 1895 and 1935). The archives, located on the 5th floor of City Hall, houses extensive collections of manuscripts, printed material, maps, blueprints, and photographic images that span the period from the colony’s founding in 1636 to the present.

Providence Preservation Society

PPS activities, outreach, and offerings include the Festival of Historic Houses, citywide advocacy, homeowner resources, and many other events and programs. Their website also includes helpful information on How to Research a Providence Building.

Sidney S. Rider Collection on Rhode Island History

The Sidney S. Rider Collection is the largest private collection of materials related to the history of Rhode Island by the turn of the 20th century, and is housed at the Brown University Library.  It is a collection of manuscript and printed materials documenting the history and print culture of Rhode Island from the 17th through the early 20th centuries, and includes books, pamphlets, manuscripts, broadsides, ephemera, scrapbooks and newspapers compiled over 50 years of collecting. Notable among the ephemera are posters, cartoons, playbills, ballots, carrier’s addresses, theater programs, tax bills, lottery tickets, death notices, and funeral invitations.  Brown University Library’s Special Collections also include African-American History at Brown University, the Christine Dunlap Farnham Archive – History of Women at Brown, and numerous other collections of documents pertaining to Brown’s history.

Museums, Training, Events, and Other Archaeological Resources:

RISD Museum

The Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, houses over 80,000 works of art, ranging from ancient Greek and Roman sculpture to French Impressionist paintings, from Chinese stone and terracotta sculpture to contemporary art in every medium, including textiles, ceramics, glass and furniture.

Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology

The Haffenreffer is Brown University’s teaching museum. Museum exhibitions are located at Manning Hall on the Brown University campus in Providence, RI. The gallery is free and open to the public and presents a range of exhibitions showcasing the Museum’s collections and the work of its staff and Brown students. The Haffenreffer’s Collections Research Center is located in Bristol, RI, and holds more than one million ethnographic objects, archaeological specimens and images from all parts of the world, with particular strengths in the Americas, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project

A not-for-profit membership organization that trains volunteers to conduct maritime history and marine archaeology research under professional direction.

Public Archaeology Laboratory

A New England cultural resource management (CRM) firm offering services in the fields of archaeology and historic architectural survey, cemetery investigations, expert testimony, section 106, HABS/HAER, and state level documentation.

The Narragansett Society

The Rhode Island Chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America.

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