What’s Vital in Rhode Island

Mary called us today in regards to a genealogy project. Mary’s family is largely based in Rhode Island and she is trying to obtain vital records documents from that state. Mary needs death records for a few family members, birth records for a few others, and a couple of marriage license copies and divorce records as well.

First I directed Mary to our main Rhode Island Vital Records page. This page explains where the various vital records are stored. In addition to linking to our directories for births, deaths, and marriages in Rhode Island, the page also lists seven main resources for vital records. For a state as small as Rhode Island, that is a remarkable number of statewide resources for vital records.

The page tells us that the city and town clerk offices are the best places to find vital records, but you need to know the specific city or town where these events occurred. If Mary had that information, she could use our Birth Records directory, Death Records directory, and Marriage Records directory for Rhode Island. Each directory has statewide and local links in those categories.

For a search of older records statewide, we recommend a visit to the Rhode Island Department of Health, where you can find Birth Records since 1899, Death Records since 1949, and Marriage Records since 1899.

Another resource is the Family History Center, run by the Mormon folks at the Church of Latter Day Saints. The Family History Center has all vital records on microfilm from the colonial times to the present except divorce records.

On our Vital Records page, we list an address for the Rhode Island State Archives, where you can research birth, marriage and death records since 1853. Some older records are available there as well.

The Rhode Island Historical Society also offers many vital records from the time period covered by the State Archives, but it also claims to have divorce records as well.

Additionally, for divorces prior to 1962, you can turn to the RI Supreme Court Judicial Records Center. For divorces after 1962, you can research at Family Court in Providence, RI.

With so much information available from so many resources, Mary is sure to discover many interesting facts about her family members.

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