Question: Do you have to make an appointment?
Answer: No, but it never hurts to call and make sure you will have the space you need to work. While the research room does not normally fill up, it can happen on occasion, especially during the school year.
Q: I am looking for a record and/or working on a research topic, how can I go about obtaining information?
A: The best policy is to email us your request. Calling is OK, but we want to ensure we have the proper spelling of names/buildings, dates, and/or research topics correctly. You can call to confirm we have received an email, but please email us all information pertaining to your request.
Q: How can I go about getting a birth, marriage or death certificate?
A: It depends on how old the records are. If the birth or marriage occurred within the last 100 years. Example: birth for 1922 cannot be released until the end of 2022, you will have to contact the office of Vital Statistics. Anything before the 100 year mark can be obtained through us. For deaths, if it occurred within the last 50 years. Example: death year 1980 cannot be released until 2030, you will have to contact Vital Statistics. Anything before the 50 year mark can be obtained through us.
Q: What year do your vital records start?
A: Our vital records start in 1636, for births, marriages and deaths.
Q: What if I need a certified copy of a vital record?
A: You will need to contact the Vital Statistics office and file your request with them.
Q: What if I am not sure where my ancestor(s) was born, married or died?
A: You should contact the R.I. State Archives, if it is outside the 100 year mark for births and marriages and 50 year mark for death. For records within the 100 and 50 year mark you have to contact the R.I. Department of Health.
Q: How can I get copies or scans of material?
A: Certain material can be copied for a small fee of 15 cents a page. For scans, we can scan up to an hours worth of work for free, but after an hour we have to charge a fee of $15/hour. However, there are certain books that we cannot scan do to the size. You can pay by cash or check.
Q: Are photographs permitted?
A: Yes. However, no flash is permitted. If you post the photo anywhere for private use (genealogy sites, blog, presentation, etc.) we ask for you to cite us as your source. We can provide you with the citation.
Q: What type of photographs do you have?
A: We have a wide range of photographs within the archives. Starting circa 1880 into the late 1990s/2000s, we have pictures of the harbor, downtown, neighborhoods, events, redevelopment areas, etc.
Q: You have a picture on FLICKR I am interested in having, how can I go about obtaining the photo?
A: Emailing us is the best way to ensure you get the photo you are interested in. Within your email, please link us to the picture(s) you are interested in. We do not usually charge for private use of photos, however if you do intend to use the photo(s) by displaying within a business, magazine, newspaper, etc. we kindly ask you to contact us.
Q: Do you have a picture of my house?
A: Our photo collection does not usually carry individual house photos. The bulk of the house photos we do have are from the Redevelopment Agency from the 1950s-60, when Interstate 95 was being built. The photos are from neighborhoods within the highway area and were photographed due to the fact that they would be torn down. Surrounding neighborhoods of I-95 were renovated and some pictures where taken of those areas as well. Beyond this, we do not usually have photos of individual houses.
Q: Do you have a history of my house/building?
A: No, we do not have complete histories of most buildings. While we have information available it is not complied into one folder, thus requiring research. Please refer to our House Research Guide, to go about researching the property you are interested in. Also, the Providence Preservation Society has information on homes and buildings that are considered historical.
Q: Does the archive keep immigration records on site?
A: No, the archives maintains a small collection of voter registration cards/naturalization records from the 1890s-1930s. However, it is not a complete set. For inquiries, it is best to contact the U.S. National Archives. They require the port city your ancestors entered and approximate year.
Q: Does the archive keep military discharge records?
A: Yes, but this index is not a complete record of honorable discharge certificates belonging to veterans from the City of Providence, from 1944-1985. These DD Form 214s are facsimiles of original certificates that were submitted by veterans to the Tax Assessors’ Office as proof of qualification for veteran real estate property tax exemptions. The U.S. National Archives can help you with requests beyond what we have within our facility.
Q: How can I get a plaque for my house/building to state how old it is?
A: The Providence Preservation Society is the organization to talk to about obtaining a plaque for your house/building.