Rhode Island: Vital Records in the Ocean State

by Amy Johnson Crow

Posted on January 9, 2014

Flag_of_Rhode_Island.pngRhode Island is the smallest of the 50 states, but it has a lot of genealogy. Recently, Archives.com launched three Rhode Island vital records collections. Let's take a look at them and how they can help your genealogy.

Registration of births and deaths in early Rhode Island was a bit sporadic. Statewide reporting didn't begin until 1853. Before then, births and deaths were only reported to the town clerk. It wasn't required, and many of these events went unrecorded in the official records. It is also fairly common to see only some of the children in a family have their births recorded, which can make it a bit difficult sometimes to piece together the entire family.

The recording of marriages is a bit better, as they were supposed to be recorded with the town clerk beginning in 1647. However, registration wasn't enforced. Typically, ministers reported the marriages to the town clerk.

Rhode Island, Birth Records covers 1636 to 1930. The information varies by record, but in addition to the child's name and date of birth, many of the birth records also include at least the father's name. Coverage improves beginning in 1853.

Similarly, Rhode Island, Death Records covers 1630 to 1930. Like the birth records, the coverage of this collection improves in 1853.

Rhode Island, Marriage Index includes 1851 to 1920. Records include the names of the bride and groom and the marriage date.

Members of Archives.com have access to more than 2.5 billion records. The Collections page lists the most recent additions and allows you to search for specific collections on Archives.com. You can stay up-to-date with all of the new collections by watching this blog, following us on Twitter (@Archivescom) or liking us on Facebook.


Amy Johnson Crow is a Genealogical Content Manager for Archives.com. She is a Certified Genealogist and blogs regularly for Roots & Branches, the official Archives.com blog. Amy has deep roots in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states and she has rarely been to a cemetery that she didn't like. 

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