Rhode Island map

Your Guide to Researching
Rhode Island Ancestors

* General Guides * Maps * Statewide Genealogy Websites * Societies, Libraries and Archives *
* Finding and Using Records * Queries & Help * More Links *

General Guides to Rhode Island Research

Books, articles and audiotapes you might purchase or use in a library include

Each of the three reference books listed below has a small section covering each state that includes maps, historical information, vital records coverage and a bibliography of resources for that state. (note: some libraries may have earlier editions; those are usable)

  1. Handybook for Genealogists ( 11th edition) (find in a library)
  2. Ancestry's Redbook, 3rd Ed, revised. (find in a library) (see above for online copy)
  3. The Family Tree Resource Book for Genealogical Research (find in a library)

Some online guides include

Atlases, Maps & Gazetteers

For more information on finding and using maps, see Your Guide to Atlases, Maps and Gazetteers.

  • Good state maps are available in the Handybook or Redbook mentioned above. If you are printing a copy of the map out at your local library, spend a few dimes more and print out the few pages of state information. You will find it a very valuable reference.
  • Bookmark or print out this map of Rhode Island counties.
  • Atlas of American Historical Boundaries: Rhode Island -- very useful for viewing and tracking boundary changes through the decades.
  • 1895 Atlas for Rhode Island (see also map for each county)
  • Print out a Rhode Island county outline map (.pdf) -- shows present day counties.
  • Perry Costaneda Map Collection for Rhode Island
  • U Alabama Historical Maps of Rhode Island
  • American Ancestors article Mapping Rhode Island
  • Each of the county pages for Rhode Island in Wikipedia will have a link to a township map -- First, click on the county name in the chart on this page, then scroll down to the bottom of the page, click the small image once to bring it up on a separate screen, then click it again to make it a full page map.

Statewide Genealogy Websites

Next, see what is available for your counties of interest at at one of these statewide sites. For each, use the county selection list to find out what is available for the various counties. Content will vary.

Societies, Libraries and Archives

For more information on using libraries and archives, see genealogy guides to Libraries and Archives

Finding and Using Records: bible, cemetery, census, church, court & legal,directories,histories, military, land and property, naturalizations, newspapers, probate, vital.

Use the place-names search in the Family History Library catalog to find out what has been filmed covering the state, counties and towns of Rhode Island, the counties Remember: you will want to find records for all three. If you are not familiar with how to do a place search in the FHL catalog, follow these instructions.

Rhode Island is a New England state, so it is especially important to look for Rhode Island town records.

Consult the Family History Library's Guide to Rhode Island Statewide Indexes and Collections ; you might also consult the FHL's Rhode Island Research Guidance, although frankly, I find navigation of that section confusing.

Bible Records: For general information, see guide to bible records, this website.

Cemetery: For general information, see guide to cemetery records, this website

Census: For general information, see guide to census records, this website.

Church: For general information, see guide to church records, this website.

County and Local Directories: for general information, see guide to city and county directories, this website.

  • Rhode Island Historical Society: City Directories
  • Check the Rhode Island City Directories site to see if one exists for a city you are interested in -- but don't rely on this. It is neither a comprehensive list of what exists nor a complete record of where it is held.
  • Links to digital copies of a few Rhode Island City Directories.

County and Local Histories : For general inform at on, see guide to county histories, this website

Court & Legal: For general information, see guide to law libraries, this website

Land & Property:For general information , see guide to land records, this website.

Rhode Island is a state-land state. Records are kept by the city or town, not the county.

Military; For general information, see guide to military records, this website

Naturalizations; For general inform at on, see guide to naturalizations, this website

Newspapers: For general information, see guide to newspapers, this website

Probate: For general information, see guide to probate records, this website. Remember, Rhode Island is a New England state, so probates will be found in the town records.

Vital: For general information, see guide to vital records, this website. Statewide birth, death and marriage records begin 1853 (Individual towns will have earlier vital records. )

Queries & Help

More Links




Return to Genealogy Guides
This page last updated August 25, 2011