Research > Resources (Initially developed by Benjamin Murphy as part of RWU Preservation Workshop, spring 2002.

This needs review, and definitions, case studies: examples of some of the resources, with reference to specific locations of rescource repository and example applied to a house.)

House Research

Rhode Island Historical Records Repositories Directory

House research is much different than regular academic research, and can be much more fulfilling. For one there is usually a more personal connection with the research when a homeowner researches their home. You get a glimpse of the past occupants of your house. You will also gain a greater understanding about the history of your community. This research involves looking at fascinating documents in different places — and meeting many people to help you along the way.

Municipal Government Offices

The Town and City Clerk Offices of Rhode Island maintain the permanent records of Rhode Island local governments. Records held include land evidence and probate documents, city and town council records, birth, marriage, and death records beginning in the Colonial era.

Town and City Clerk Offices

  1. Deed Records
  2. Ordinances
  3. City Bulletins
  4. Will and Death Records
  5. Marriage Records
  6. Estate/inventory Records
  7. Plat Maps
  8. Mortgage Records

Tax Assessor

  1. Plat Books
  2. Assessor’s Cards
  3. Tax Duplicate Records
  4. Industrial Reports

Recorder’s Office

  1. Property Abstracts
  2. Mechanic’s Lien Records

Buildings & Inspections

  1. Building Permits
  2. Building Cards

Engineering Office

  1. Maps
  2. Aerial Photographs

Water Works

  1. Water & Sewer Tap Records

Local Library & Historical Society

Existing Historic Inventories

Secondary Sources

  1. City & County Histories
  2. Corporate Histories

Builder's/Trade Catalogs



City Directories & Gazetteers

Manuscript Collections

Census Records

  1. Population
  2. Agriculture
  3. Manufacturing

Maps/Historical Atlases

  1. Insurance Maps
  2. Sanborn/Baist

Oral Histories


Pictorial Collections

  1. Postcards
  2. Photographs
  3. Prints/lithographs

Tax Duplicates


Architectural & Engineering Drawings

  1. Specifications
  2. Drawings
  3. Field Records
  4. Photographs

Deed Indexes

Cemetery Records

WPA Church Survey Records

Corporate & Institutional Records

Churches, Synagogues and Temples

    1. Dedication Pamphlets
    2. Marriage Records
    3. Baptismal Records
    4. Account Books
    5. Church Bulletins


  1. Written Histories
  2. Maps
  3. Ledgers
  4. Account Books
  5. Photographs
  6. Interviews
  7. Annual Reports
  8. Real Estate Records

Private Collections

    1. Personal Papers/Manuscripts
    2. Letters/Diaries
    3. Photographs/Postcards
    4. Sketches/Paintings
    5. Family Bible Records
    6. Interviews and Oral Histories