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26 June 2019

Our Library Collections: Rhode Island

One in a series by CGS member Chris Pattillo highlighting some of our holdings at the Library in Oakland. For a fuller listing of books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog in WorldCat.

An example of a four-generation tree from
Ancestral Dictionary
You will find our Rhode Island books shelved in F76 through F90. The section starts with five volumes of Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in New England by John Russell Bartlett, published in 1861. It covers thirteen years of history from 1757 to 1769. I sure hope I find a similar set of books when I get to Tennessee and Virginia, where my farming ancestors are from. It includes several original letters from the key participants in the conflicts between the colonists and French. Each volume has an index.

We have twenty-one volumes of Vital Records of Rhode Island 1638-1850 compiled by James N. Arnold and published in 1891. Each book covers a different set of counties. The preface of volume one offers an apology for the record not being complete, and an explanation that the fault lies with our ancestors for not having “placed the items upon the Town Records.” Arnold estimates that not more than a quarter of what should have been placed there exists for the period 1790 to 1850. That said, these volumes contain a wealth of data that may be just what you’ve been looking for.

The next little gem is Ancestral Dictionary edited by John Osborne Austin, published in Providence in 1891. This book consists entirely of tiny family trees for sixty-four individuals. Each page presents a four-generation family tree with names, birth and death dates, some location data and some titles. Anyone who is starting their research will be thrilled to discover this book.
One of the engraved portraits from Representative
Men and Old Families of Rhode Island
Representative Men and Old Families of Rhode Island (1908-1912) is covered in six large volumes. These books were donated by Charles Francis Griffin and are similar to many other biographical books the library houses. They provide lengthy written biographies and beautifully rendered engravings of many of the men profiled with their signature.

The Book of Rhode Island is from the Dorman collection. It was published in 1930 by several state business associations and includes biographies, a history, maps, photos of historic houses and civic buildings, information on local businesses and towns, and much more. It is very well illustrated but lacks a table of contents or index. The book features a lot of industrial plants and is really quite fascinating There is even a photo of a nicely-designed aeration plant of the Providence Water Supply at Scituate.
One of many images about the industries of Rhode Island
from The Book of Rhode Island
The final book I selected was Churches in Rhode Island by Henry Jackson (1854). This is a charming little book that has been lovingly housed in one of Bill O’Neil’s beautiful handmade boxes. The contents are a report by Rev. Henry Jackson at the twenty-eighth annual session of the Baptist State Convention. He visited each Baptist church in their organization and reported on what he found in this book.
First Presbyterian Meeting House of Rhode Island

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