This preliminary guide provides a list of some of the resources available at the Providence City Archives that can be useful when researching the origins of town/city streets in Providence as well as name changes, street extensions, changes in street grade. The indexes also provide reference citations to Town Council and Town Meeting records, Aldermen Papers, plat and deed books and other city documents. These references cover the period from 1735 to 1900 (with a few references to records as late as 1930). Soon this guide will be expanded to include 20th century reference materials.
1 volume. 168 Pgs. Mss
Street names organized alphabetically and the entries indicate various measures taken for the named town streets. These actions include: naming of streets and gangways, petitions for establishing streets, street layouts, turning streets into public highways as well as committee report summaries. Entries cover the period from 1735 to 1832. Entries also include volume and page references to other town documents such as the Town Council Meeting Records, and the Plat of Streets books. LOCATION: VAULT.
1 volume. Mss pages not numbered. Compiled in 1860.
Arranged alphabetically by street. There are 275 numbered entries. Sources for entries include Town Meeting Records, Aldermen Records, Council Records, Street Records and Council Schedules. LOCATION: VAULT.STREETS RECEIVED. STREET COMMISSIONER’S OFFICE
1 volume. Mss. 334 pgs. Compiled ca. 1864.
This volume supplements and updates the Registry of Streets
Received book (see above).
STREET COURSES 1771-1826
1 volume. Mss. 61 pgs.
Minute book of the Town Council Committee on Highways. Most of the deliberations concern the laying of street lines or resolving disputes regarding street boundaries.
1 volume (1878). Large folio plates.
READING ROOM: Section 13.
STREET GRADE PLANS AND PROFILES
4 volumes (1879-1885). Large folio plates.
READING ROOM: Section 13.
37 volumes (1870-1926).
Bound applications for street lines along with survey drawings detailing site lines for new building construction. Each volume is indexed.
READING ROOM: Section 9.
LAYOUT OF STREETS
These boxes contain a miscellaneous collection of petitions, City Council resolutions, correspondence and written communications with state officials relating to Providence streets and highways. It appears that these records were removed from the Board of Aldermen, City Council, and Town papers. They are organized alphabetically by street and cover the period from 1800 to 1867. VAULT.
RECORDS OF THE COMMITTEE ON STREETS
Minute book covers the period from 1893-1906.
READING ROOM: Section 9.
LIST OF STREET NAME CHANGES
List provides basic information on street changes occurring in Providence from 1805 to 1930. Individual entries include name of existing street, approximate location, date of name change and new street designation.
READING ROOM: Section 12 (glass case).
“LITTLE BLUE BOOK OF STREETS.”
This 27 page manuscript contains a journal and the proceedings of a committee authorized by the town in 1771 to survey and revise street and highway boundaries. Committee members Stephen Hopkins, Jabez Bowen, and James Angell reported their findings to the town on April 17, 1771. The journal and proceedings (more legible) can also be found in Deed Book 22, pages 149-155.
RECORD OF STREETS
11 volumes (1822-1895). Mss. Entries.
These are petitions to the Town/City Council requesting city to formally receive them as city streets. Also includes reports of the committee on streets and highways as well as meeting minutes. READING ROOM: Section 17.
PLAT OF STREETS
85 volumes (1847-1971). Volumes 1 and 2 have not been located. Plates detail streets or portions of streets accepted by the city and recorded by the City Clerk’s office. There is a cumulative index to the volumes divided into 2 series. Plates also indicate ownership of lots adjoining streets as well as house dimensions. READING ROOM: Section 12.
DEED OF STREETS TO THE TOWN AND CITY OF PROVIDENCE
11 volumes (1750-1942) Mss entries.
Books contain handwritten copies of town/city deeds to accepted streets. Each volume has an index. Also, in 1926 a cumulative index was compiled.
READING ROOM: Section 12.
RECORDS OF THE STREETS, HIGHWAYS, BRIDGES, AND PUBLIC LANDS OF THE TOWN OF PROVIDENCE
10 volumes (1636-1832)
This manuscript compilation of records relating to streets, highways, bridges, and public lands was carried out at the suggestion of Mayor Thomas Doyle and a special committee comprising of City Council members and Alderman Snow (appointed September 9, 1872). Mayor Doyle, in his message to the council, stated that many of the original papers were “badly worn and defaced, and are rapidly becoming useless,” and consequently recommended that “steps be immediately taken to preserve these valuable and highly important papers.” These copies of original records were drawn from the following sources; TOWN COUNCIL and TOWN MEETING RECORDS, LAWS OF RHODE ISLAND, SCHEDULES OF THE RHODE ISLAND GENERAL ASSEMBLY, RHODE ISLAND COLONIAL RECORDS (10 volumes), and STREET COURSES (1721-1826). The volumes follow a straight chronological order. Each volume includes an index. READING ROOM: Section 12.
This collection also contains a supplementary volume labeled PAPERS AND DOCUMENTS 1714-1822. Spine label shows it as volume 1 although it appears that this is the only volume in this series.
LARGE STREET PLAT BOOKS
These are organized into 3 large folio books:
STREET MAPS A (1837-1861) 29 plates.
STREET MAPS B (1861-1869) 50 plates.
MISC. STREET MAPS (1854-1873)
These street layouts include vertical street and house profiles and street grades. Detail proposed street extensions and/or street widenings. House profiles in some cases are very detailed.