The State of Rhode Island is famous for its freedom of action and conscience, which has existed since its early days. Providence, which is the capital of Rhode Island, was founded by a Clergyman named Roger Williams. Massachusetts Bay Colony exiled him in 1636. He and others who were exiled for their religious beliefs settled around Providence and Pocasset, which later became Portsmouth. Providence was settled in 1636, Pocasset in 1638, and another colony followed in 1639 at Newport.

Before the Revolutionary War even started, Rhode Island became well known for defying authority. In one incident, they burned Liberty and Gaspee, British revenue cutters. The state was also quick to declare its independence from England. That declaration came in May of 1776. Rhode Island did not participate in the War of 1812 at all. The area was also home to Dorr’s Rebellion in 1842. That was a protest against people being required to own property in order to vote in elections.

Rhode Island is officially the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. It is one of the New England states. In fact it was one of the original 13 colonies, and it was the first to declare itself completely independent from Great Britain, on May 4, 1776. Nevertheless, it didn’t ratify the U.S. Constitution until May 29, 1790, making it the last of the 13 colonies to do so. Rhode Island is the smallest state in the United States and it is one of the most industrialized and most densely populated. Most of Rhode Island is not an island at all. So, its name can be a bit misleading. Narragansett Bay’s largest island is also officially known as Rhode Island and extends throughout the eastern portions of the state of Rhode Island. Providence is the largest city in the state. It is also the state’s capital. The state itself looks tiny on a map, but it has quite a wide-spread influence on the rest of the country.

Rhode Island Counties

The State of Rhode Island was created as the 13th state on May 29, 1790. It has 5 Counties. Select a Rhode Island county to view information & records pertaining to each County

Getting Started with Rhode Island Genealogy and Family Trees

Searching for Rhode Island Genealogy Data – Tiny and yet full of history, the State of Rhode Island makes an abundance of genealogical material available. From websites to local organizations, it will be easy to track down records or details about your Native American, Colonial, Revolutionary War, and contemporary relations through the materials you will find online or in the state.

Beginning a Search for Rhode Island Genealogy Information – As you start looking for Rhode Island genealogy data, you will be able to get a lot of materials before you even leave home. This is because the so many of the state’s organizations have already digitized information of interest to those searching for Rhode Island genealogy information. It is important to remember, however, that there may also be a need to make a few trips to physical locations as well.

Before getting too involved in the research for Rhode Island genealogy projects you may want to familiarize yourself with the online tools that can spare you from making unnecessary trips. Consider that you may discover in a search for Rhode Island genealogy data that you can use the Internet to request copies of documents that you thought you had to travel to retrieve!

It is best to begin with the most frequently digitized items used for Rhode Island genealogy, and these are the public records described in the following categories:

  • Local Records – traditionally, a state research project begins with a visit to a county clerk’s office or website. Then you will probably need to visit local genealogical societies, small local libraries, historical societies, and school or college libraries for Rhode Island genealogy information. These are items that are usually offline and viewable by appointment or special arrangement.
  • Vital Records – these describe the birth, marriage, divorce and death records from county, state, and national archives. They can also include immigration and naturalization details, cemetery or obituary information, census records, newspaper items, military records, and passenger lists and records as well. These tend to be available as online or offline resources for Rhode Island genealogy.
  • State Records – this group includes probate information, private manuscripts, surname lists, newspapers, state census information, marriage details, military or veterans information, land records, maps, estate information, genealogical folders, death records, deeds, birth certificates, cemetery information and more. These are available as online and offline resources for Rhode Island genealogy.

Important Tools for Rhode Island Genealogy – All researchers learn about their best resources for Rhode Island genealogy work, and below are some of the finest for Rhode Island genealogy that we have found:

  • RI Department of Health, Office of Vital Records, Room 101, 3 Capitol Hill, Providence, RI 02908-5097;
    This is the place for birth, death, marriage and divorce records, and where you can get copies via a written request or even online.

Additional state and local records can be found at the:

  • State Archives of Rhode Island, This website contains links to all of their records programs, and is found at:

Also, consider using the resources available through the comprehensive Rhode Island Genealogical Society’s website at:

The links below will give you access to a lot of state-specific data essential those in search of facts for Rhode Island genealogy projects.