Archive for the ‘Genealogy’ Category

I guess I have always wanted to know about the places my ancestors lived.  But finding the spot for that family farm, as New England genealogists know, is never easy.  Rhode Island land doesn’t come packaged in neat square lots (ever).  With an almost 400 year history, buildings come and go.  Towns and borders are rearranged.  Deeds are kept in 39 locations around the state, and seldom online.

So we learn to be curious about maps, guides, historic landmarks, place names, and history.  While prior to genealogy I would only have been marginally interested in a guide to a town’s historic structures and neighborhoods, I have gradually become obsessed with these things.  If you want to solve a brick wall, one best practice is to learn as much as possible about the nearest locations you can find.

Fortunately, the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission has produced, over the last several decades, guides to historic architecture and resources around the state.  Focusing town by town on buildings and other structures such as bridges, the guides present a history of the landscape and neighborhoods, some details of evolving land use and industries, guides to local historic houses, and, at the end of the volumes, impressive bibliographies of books and maps for further research.

There are even some local maps here and there, which help you to sort through the historic neighborhood names.  And, plenty of pictures of historic houses and buildings.

All of these volumes are now available through their website, as free downloads.  Although I own several volumes already, having instant access to ALL volumes is a huge step forward.  The pdf copies can be downloaded from the RIHPHC website here.

I can’t reproduce their materials here, of course, so visit their website to access the books.  This is the list of books available on the website:

  • Barrington
  • Block Island
  • Bristol
  • Burrillville
  • Central Falls
  • Charlestown
  • Coventry
  • Cranston – also: Pawtuxet Village
  • Cumberland
  • East Greenwich
  • East Providence
  • Exeter
  • Foster
  • Glocester
  • Hopkinton
  • Jamestown
  • Johnston
  • Lincoln
  • Little Compton
  • Middletown
  • Narragansett – also: Narragansett Pier
  • Newport–see:
    •   African-Americans of Newport
    •   Kay-Catherine-Old Beach Rd
    •   Southern Thames Street
    •   West Broadway
  • North Kingstown
  • North Providence
  • North Smithfield
  • Pawtucket
  • Portsmouth
  • Providence (Citywide) also:
    •   Downtown
    •   East Side
    •   Elmwood
    •   Providence Industrial Sites
    •   Smith Hill
    •   South Providence
    •   West Side
  • Richmond
  • Scituate
  • Smithfield
  • South Kingstown
  • Tiverton
  • Warren
  • Warwick – also: Pawtuxet Village
  • West Greenwich
  • West Warwick
  • Westerly
  • Woonsocket

RI Statewide–see:

  •   Historic Highway Bridges of RI
  •   Historic Landscapes of RI
  •   Native American Archaeology
  •   Outdoor Sculpture of RI
  •   RI Engineering/Industrial Sites
  •   RI: State-Owned Hist. Properties
  •   State Houses of RI

I think exploring these books at the RIHPHC website would be a great way to learn more about your ancestors’ neighborhood.  They would help you understand the landmarks mentioned in deeds, and to understand how the landscape changed over the centuries, and what the local industries were.

What a goldmine!  Hope they help you.

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I’ve decided to revisit a brick wall ancestor, my 4x-great grandmother, Lydia Minor, and to create, along the way, a complete guide to this journey.  I hope readers with their own Rhode Island brick walls will follow along, and perhaps choose one problem to explore on their own as this goes on. The problem originates in Rhode Island but then veers westward; something that many readers will identify with.

I’m not kidding when I say this will probably take years.  I chose this problem because it’s pretty hopeless.  Eight years has not solved it yet, so there is no low hanging fruit.  It should be/would be/could be solvable – the Minors of southeastern Connecticut are pretty well known – but this particular individual has eluded researchers up to now.  Lydia Minor is the great-grandmother of my mother’s grandfather, Russell Earl Darling.

The problem, if it is ever solved, will be solved by devising and implementing strategies, which will often involve seeking connections between small details that can be gleaned about Lydia and her known family.  So, let’s strategize.

I absolutely need an “X-RAYS BOX.” Right away.

The research question

It’s important to state, in writing, the question.  The question needs to narrow down the focus, but also to refer to specific people.

Who were the parents of Lydia Miner, who married Russell Lamphear in 1807 in Preston, Connecticut?

OK.  Now I know what I’m looking for.

Lydia Minor’s life

I’d like to begin by showing the little I know about who Lydia Minor really was, so that readers will begin to appreciate her as much as I do.

Direct Evidence

Her marriage:[1]

At Preston, Mr. RUSSELL LAMPHEAR, to Miss Lydia Miner.


  • The marriage was recorded in a Norwich, Connecticut newspaper as happening in Preston (Connecticut), the town immediately east of Norwich.  When I review facts on the husband, Russell, it will be clear that he was living in Norwich at this time, having recently moved from Westerly, Rhode Island.
  • With few Minors in Preston, no clues have surfaced to connect Lydia or Russell to Preston.  But embarrassingly, I now realize that although I have consulted The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Records, Preston 1687-1850, Parts 1 & 2, some New London County probate districts via microfilm at the NEHGS library in Boston, and some Preston deeds at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I have never been to Preston Town Hall. And there’s nothing like going to the town hall.  Well, that’s why we’re doing this!  Adding it to the list.
  • “Miss” Lydia Miner is an indication this is a first marriage.  Based on her age (from her death record, coming up) of about 20 or 21, that was very likely anyway.

Lydia’s newspaper death notice clipping was something I ordered from the New London County Historical Society[3]:

The scanty 23 January 1849 death notice for Lydia at least gives an age, 62.


  • The notice, in a Norwich, Connecticut newspaper, specifies that the death occurred at “Norwich Falls.”  The Falls is a neighborhood that became industrialized thanks to water power in the very early 1800’s, and (as will be reviewed in the future) evidence points to Russell and Lydia spending many years there.
  • Lydia died on 18 January, 1849, still married to her husband Russell.  Her age in January, 1849 of 62 years suggests a birth year of 1787 or, even more likely, 1786.  Russell certainly knew how old she was, but who the source of this information was, and whether it was reported directly to the paper for insertion or copied from some town record, is unknown.  No death record was found on three separate searches in the Norwich Town Hall or in the printed two volume set, Vital records of Norwich, 1659-1848. Also none was found at the Connecticut State Archives in Hartford.
  • Western papers please copy is a good indication that Lydia had loved ones west of Connecticut.  Although only one son and one daughter are specifically known to have headed west, this is something to keep in mind as the children are explored.

Indirect Evidence

Here are some thoughts about her as shared by her son William in his old age as he was reminiscing to a reporter, along with an old friend (this clipping was sent to me by a very kind researcher on a related line who noticed Russell Lamphere on my blog)[2]:

I think for a woman who married in 1807 and had 14 children, being remembered in this manner by a loving son 50 years after her death is very sweet.

The story, further, tells us that Lydia and Russell Lamphere had 14 children; seven boys and seven girls:

Note that the “genial old gentleman, fond of stories” was Lydia’s son William Lamphere, and the rest of the paragraph refers to Lydia’s husband, Russell Lamphere.


  • Lydia and Russell not only had 14 children, but seven were girls and seven were boys.
  • Lydia did all her own housework (I do know that several of the oldest children were girls, which was probably a help) and met “the demands of society” which I take to mean she led a normal life and interacted with her community.
  • The Lampheres were Methodists.  Good to know.
  • The clue about the children living long lives is barely true, as a child-by-child examination will show, but clearly some of them did.

Research plan (just the beginning of the plan, I will keep adding):

  • Visit Preston Town Hall to seek birth and marriage records for Lydia, and take a careful look at ALL Minor records in the deeds and probate (although Connecticut separates probates into “districts” I notice the towns often have older materials on hand).
  • Review Thomas Minor Descendants 1608-1981 by John Augustus Minor to build a list of all the Lydia Minors that are not the right one.  I’ve done this before, but I think I’ll start fresh.  Also, in that book, explore Minors who were ever resident in Preston.
  • Review historical background materials on Norwich and Preston.
  • Investigate Methodists churches in Norwich Falls in the first half of the 1800’s.
  • Carefully review available record sets for Norwich and Preston on Ancestry.com, AmericanAncestors.org, and FamilySearch.org, as well as any Revolutionary War records on Fold3 for Minors/Miners from Preston.  I haven’t reviewed web resources on this for a while, and it changes quickly.
  • Consider a visit to the New London County Historical Society in New London, after the review is well underway and the research plan is more fully developed.

While I don’t have a picture of Lydia of course, this photograph is of her daughter, Lucy Ann (Lamphere) Cook, 1808-1865. From the collection of L. Buck, used with permission.

Next:  Starting from the beginning, I’ll review the early life and residences of Lydia’s husband Russell, trying to determine where he met Lydia.


[1] “Married,” The Courier (Norwich, Conn.), 20 May 1807, p. 3, col. 3; image copy, GenealogyBank.com, (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 18 June 2011).

[2] “Letters from the People : Old Times and Old Folks,” Norwich (Connecticut) Bulletin, 12 September 1898, p. [unknown], col. 3.

[3] “DIED,” Norwich (Connecticut) Evening Courier, 23 January 1849, vol. VII, no. 141, whole num. 541, p. 3, col. 1.

The post you are reading is located at: https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2017/03/12/brick-wall-journey-part-1/

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FamilySearch.org is a wonderful, free website where many genealogists search indexed records.  But FamilySearch.org has a lot more to offer than just the searchable records, although it’s not always that obvious how to find more. (For the record, the site also holds “family tree” functionality, where users collaborate, together, on one large tree – that part doesn’t interest me, and won’t be part of this post. I always encourage people to do their own research.)

Here are four methods I use often.


Start the search, then specify a collection

In the SEARCH screen, search by, perhaps, name & location.


The results will come up as individual records. At this point, switch from RECORDS view to COLLECTIONS, and narrow your choice to one or more specific record sets.


After selecting Massachusetts Births 1841-1915, the records list is shorter.


The icons below are indicating that the birth record for Addison Darling has tree information attached, as well as transcribed text from a record, and also a photo of the record itself.


Clicking on the transcribed text also brings up the chance to see the original document. If available, ALWAYS use the photo of the document or page that contains the record. And if no image is available, look elsewhere for the actual record.  Never use an index entry as evidence.


I also found that clicking on the “tree” symbol, then clicking the “PERSON” link, brought up a data screen which was not at all correct, but did include some “Record Hints” that led me to a marriage record I’d never found before (which was actually for the son of Addison Darling, who had the same name).  Record Hints are like Ancestry “leaf” hints – they might be completely wrong, but might be worth looking at. Turns out, Addison Jr’s second marriage occurred in Los Angeles, something I never suspected.


Use the Books section

I think the BOOKS section on FamilySearch (under the main heading SEARCH) is the most underutilized feature.  There is a growing collection of books, including many family genealogies, that may not be found anywhere else.


When searching for Darling Family, 2300 hits come up.  That’s too many, so I limit the selection to ON THIS SUBJECT:  “Darling Family.” That gives us 110.  Searching again with the name of the immigrant ancestor, “Dennis Darling,” brings up the best book on my Darling Family: Dennis Darling of Braintree and Mendon and some of his descendants 1662-1800 by William and Lou Martin.  The book was available for download.


Often, books published since 1923 will NOT be available for download, but could be viewed from a computer at a local Family History Center, or a copy of the book could then be searched using http://www.worldcat.com.


Search for record sets by location

Getting away from indexed records and into the wide assortment of UNINDEXED records on FamilySearch, that will never come up in any record search, the tool I often start with is the location search, just to see what’s available for a specific location. Let’s try accessing some of the Darlings’ records from Massachusetts.

Go to the CATALOG (this lives in the SEARCH category).


Using the “Place” search, the system accepts a place named in this configuration: country, state, county, town. So in the search above, we are searching for the county of Norfolk, and not specifying any town.  This will not bring up records for all towns, instead, it will bring up records which are county-wide only.  I limited the search to records available in the location “ONLINE.”


This is really a jackpot of records for this county – probate, court, land (deeds) and some vitals.  The online choices are really growing.  Let’s try Land and property.

Once I opened up that category, I chose Land Records – Deeds, 1793-1890.  On the screen that comes up, one line looks like this:

Massachusetts, Land Records are available online, click here.

After clicking, we then see this line, and click it:

Browse through 5,766,135 images

Well, that’s scary.  But let’s try it.  And we get this:


Choosing Norfolk county brings up this:


These are VERY long lists of index books and deed books.  Using the index volumes first, we can find the deeds that we are interested in.  Once you open any one of these books, it is basically a roll of microfilm, and you must page through it yourself. Use the arrows in the upper corner to page through, or jump around by typing a number into the box. It’s a matter of guesswork to get to the page you need.  It’s slow, but remember, you’re able to do this in the comfort of your own home, in your pajamas.  What progress!


After finding the entries I want for Addison Darling’s father, Elias Darling (many of which I now realize I’ve never seen before) I note all the entries, go back to the long list of books, and start using the deed volumes.


Drill down to a specific location

Another way to use this catalog is to drill down to very specific locations, to see everything available on FamilySearch for that location.

Let’s say I want to see what is available on the Darlings’ location, Sheldonville village in the town of Wrentham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts.  We start by entering the county in the CATALOG search, just like we previously did:


Next, notice the subtle place breadcrumbs up top of the screen that comes up:


Clicking on “United States, Massachusetts, Norfolk” at this point will bring us a choice of sub-locations:


There is nothing for Sheldonville, but there are some town records for Wrentham.  Clicking Wrentham limits my results to just the town.  There are some important tax and town records there.


As I was drilling down, I did NOT limit my results to the “Online” location, so most of these records are not online, and would have to be obtained on microfilm from the Family History Library, to view at my local Family History Center.  But I notice more and more of the genealogy libraries are also becoming Family History Center affiliates, helping you to accomplish a lot in one trip, if you can get to one.

In closing

FamilySearch should be one of our first stops when we decide to go after the kind of records that will help us solve our brick walls.  There’s a lot more there than meets the eye, so keep exploring.

The post you are reading is located at: https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2017/02/09/find-more-on-familysearch/


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Recently, the Providence Public Library received the archival collections of noted Rhode Island genealogist James Newell Arnold (1844-1927) from the Knight Memorial Library in Providence, which had housed the papers since James Arnold’s death in 1927. The James N. Arnold Collection is now part of The Rhode Island Collection.

Providence Public Library. Always be sure to take a good look around; it's a lovely old place.

Stairwell, Providence Public Library. Always be sure to take a good look around; it’s a lovely old place.  Photo by Diane Boumenot.

Kate Wells of the Providence Public Library had clued me in to this last winter and recently let me know that the materials were now newly processed into an archival collection and were, essentially, open for business.  It’s not completely trivial to access the collection (for instance, the boxes are stored on another floor from the Rhode Island Collection office and reading room), so I made an appointment with Kate for my visit.

Here is the Finding Aid for the collection (it opens up as a pdf download).

James Newell Arnold as a young man. I love this picture, he's quite a handsome young man. Hard to imagine he was already suffering from the affliction that was noticeable later in life, something that caused him to rely on crutches. Whatever the affliction was, could it have started later?

James Newell Arnold as a young man. I love this picture, he’s quite a handsome young man. Was he already suffering from the affliction that was noticeable later in life, something that caused him to rely on crutches?  3-59, “Photographs, James N. Arnold”, James N. Arnold Collection, Rhode Island Collection, Providence Public Library.

In the course of a long life James N. Arnold followed his historical data collection interests with a passion.  Although the Narragansett Historical Register, his gravestone recordings, and the Vital Record of Rhode Island, 1636-1850 were his most visible projects, he spent a lifetime studying historical claims and events, arguing and sometimes feuding with other historians (most notably, a long standing feud with the Rhode Island Historical Society), collecting books, stories and ephemera, and never missing an opportunity to disparage Roger Williams.

One of the two card catalogs containing various indices to parts of the collection.

One of the two card catalogs containing various indices to parts of the collection.

I carefully studied the Finding Aid (see above) in advance and decided to focus on the records of the Arnold family.  James Arnold never produced the formal Arnold genealogy volume that he, no doubt, planned to finish someday, although late in life he seems to have collaborated a bit with other Arnold researchers who did produce manuscripts or books (more on published works here).   It was clear from my perusal that my particular problem has not been solved; time for me to figure it out myself.  But I was grateful for a chance to check that out.

These colorful gravestone collection index cards were, I think compiled after James Arnold's death by volunteers.

These colorful gravestone collection index cards were, I think, compiled after James Arnold’s death, by volunteers.

Kate Wells advised me that, with the vital records and gravestone work widely available elsewhere, the most likely source for some genealogy magic was one of the card catalogs that had accompanied the manuscripts, plus a set of genealogy correspondence folders that contained many inquiries, answers, and notes.  I attacked the card catalogs with a pre-determined list and didn’t turn up much. The only work of James Arnold that seemed to intersect significantly with my needs were some early Smithfield/Cumberland families.  But I would like to return and approach this again with more time to peruse the many letters on file.

Arnold's weather diaries, kept for many years, plus some farm accounts. Box 4,

Arnold’s weather diaries, kept for many years, plus some farm accounts. Box 4, “Weather journals”, James N. Arnold Collection, Rhode Island Collection, Providence Public Library.

The documents are ordered and filed in boxes.  Genealogy notes on many Rhode Island families, tombstone recordings, Arnold family notes, historical as well as fictional stories, clippings, correspondence, account books, annals of war — there are many possibilities for research here.

You just don't know what you're going to find among the many boxes and folders.

You just don’t know what you’re going to find among the many boxes and folders.

I enjoyed my journey into James Arnold’s world and intend to keep studying his work. I was thrilled to find the original newspaper clippings of Harriet James’ work on my Andrews family.  The genealogy work on Rhode Island families was a hodge podge of copied notes, essays, clippings and abstracts, but was definitely unique and valuable.  I will revisit those.

James Arnold, in early middle age perhaps, looking speculative and a little untidy. The well-known poverty of his later years may well have factored into all stages of his life.

James Arnold, in early middle age perhaps, looking speculative and a little untidy. The well-known poverty of his later years may well have factored into many stages of his life.  3-59, “Photographs, James N. Arnold”, James N. Arnold Collection, Rhode Island Collection, Providence Public Library.

A folder of photographs of James Arnold claimed my attention.  Never married, physically impaired,  determined, opinionated to a fault, Arnold was — from what little I know of him — incapable of the fawning demeanor of service that might have made him more valued and protected by Rhode Island’s wealthier classes, who relied on his work.

This fascinating photo shows Arnold leaning on the crutches that were his companion during, at least, his later life. One gets a cemetery feel from the picture but it could be a noted historical spot. 3-59,

This fascinating photo shows Arnold leaning on the crutches that were his companion during, at least, his later life. One gets an overgrown cemetery feel from the picture but it could be an ancient historical spot. 3-59, “Photographs, James N. Arnold”, James N. Arnold Collection, Rhode Island Collection, Providence Public Library.

As time went on, James Arnold found that his life’s work, including his two major publishing ventures, had not ensured a comfortable old age.  Late in life he was basically destitute, dependent on Providence’s Dexter Asylum.

Well into middle age, Arnold was sometimes photographed with his crutches. 3-59,

Well into middle age.  Note his possibly disfigured foot.  3-59, “Photographs, James N. Arnold”, James N. Arnold Collection, Rhode Island Collection, Providence Public Library.

A set of documents relating to James Arnold’s death make it clear that he tried, as an old man, to dispose of his massive collection of poorly arranged papers.  Several important repositories corresponded with him and would have been happy to take them. The choicest books might perhaps have been sold during his life but many books  as well as the papers were eventually donated to the library in Elmwood, Providence, that eventually became the Knight Memorial Library.  The books, according to Kate, were eventually dispersed among Providence’s library system.

James Arnold in 1925, two years before his death. 3-59,

James Arnold in 1925, two years before his death. 3-59, “Photographs, James N. Arnold”, James N. Arnold Collection, Rhode Island Collection, Providence Public Library.

No one’s work is perfect but it’s notable that no person, in the hundred years since his Vital Record of Rhode Island volumes were published, has systematically re-checked his work in its entirety.  No one has been willing to take on the project that he did, and so we all owe this man a great deal of gratitude for a lifetime spent saving our history.

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James Arnold, looking somewhat business-like, probably at the heyday of his publishing career. 3-59,

James Arnold, looking somewhat business-like, probably at the heyday of his publishing career. 3-59, “Photographs, James N. Arnold”, James N. Arnold Collection, Rhode Island Collection, Providence Public Library.

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Choosing a gift for a genealogist can be puzzling.  Loved ones and, especially, relatives want to be supportive but don’t know how.  To those who search for that perfect idea, maybe one below will be right for your favorite genealogists.  This is an update and consolidation of all previous lists.

Paper and stationery gifts

  • 1. My friend Midge has a terrific suggestion for the genealogist who has everything: bullet journal supplies from Erin Condren. You buy the spiral notebook and then some clip-in accessories like erasable lists and rulers, stretchable bands (also good for holding a tablet case on) and colorful tape and stickers.  Add colorful pens by Staedtler
Bullet journal supplies for the inspired genealogist. Photo from Midge, chief bullet journal consultant here at One Rhode Island Family.

Bullet journal supplies for the inspired genealogist, from Staples. Photo from Midge Frazel, chief bullet journal consultant here at One Rhode Island Family.

Brother Printer PT70BM Wireless Personal Handheld Labeler

Brother Printer PT70BM Wireless Personal Handheld Labeler

  • 4. Clip board. A clipboard, a pad, and a pencil can be brought into most archives, even if nothing else can, and a clipboard serves as a writing surface when at a microfilm machine or library. Try the thin printed ones at Staples.  Add a bouquet of Black Warrior Pencils topped off with a 3-pack of White Pearl Erasers.  I’m actually serious about this.  I know genealogists.
  • 5. 97.8% of genealogists love office supplies.  OK I made that up.  But this little book of sticky Redi-Tag Divider notes was love at first sight.
Redi-Tag Divider Notes would be handy when working in books or notebooks.

Redi-Tag Divider Notes would be handy when working in books or notebooks.

  • 6. These Post-It tabs are great in binders or reference books.  And, giant Post-Its! On those, I can’t decide if I like lined or unlined.  Either way.

About photos and archives

  • 7. Maybe a simple Canon Camera in the $100-$125 range.  In the end, cheaper than paying for photocopies.   This light is good for photographing pages without yellowing.
  • 8. If your genealogist is not getting any younger, try magnifiers and magnifying lights.
  • 9. Camera digital SD memory cards.  And a little case to put them in, like this or this.
  • 10. For the genealogist who serves as the family archivist (which is all genealogists), my friend Bernadine had a good experience with photo supplies from universityproducts.com, for instance, their archival storage boxes. When she phoned them, they were helpful.
  • 11. I like this Canoscan scanner for pictures and papers, but you might be able to find a cheaper one that you like.
  • 12. I like my Flip-Pal mobile scanner – it runs on batteries and records onto a memory card – no computer needed until you are ready to review and store the pictures. Many genealogists really covet these.  The linked page is an affiliate link of mine, because I own and love this product, and you can also find cool accessories there, as well as Legacy Family Tree software and webinar subscriptions.
Flip Pal mobile scanner

Flip Pal mobile scanner

  • 13. Family Photo Detective and many other works by Maureen Taylor help genealogists figure out those old family photos, and I also like Denise Levenick’s new guide, How to Archive Family Photos: A Step-by-Step Guide to Organize and Share Your Photos Digitally.

Electronic and computer gadgets

  • 14. Lifechat headphones for listening to webinars or group chats on the computer.  
  • 15. Cocoon Grid-It keeps small electronics together when traveling (also available in other configurations)
  • 16. Eneloop rechargeable batteries by Panasonic, size AA, with a charger and case, would be good for a person who already has a Flip-Pal.  Try Amazon or other retailers.  I also like AA batteries that re-charge in any USB port.  These would be great in a computer mouse, for travelers, in case the mouse batteries died.
  • 17. USB flash drives.  8gb or 16gb should be fine.  Look for sales. Genealogists need something large and bright so they remember to remove it from the computer.  Combined with the lanyard, below, from Staples, this would make a terrific tech gift in the $10 range.

Books and magazines

  • 18.  Very new, so if your favorite genealogist has not recently purchased these, they don’t have them:  AT LAST, a reliable guide to those confusing DNA test results:  The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine T. Bettinger. Also a new and moving book about the strange and unexpected news that DNA testing can bring: Stranger in My Genes by Bill Griffeth.  Both of these are on my wish list.
  • 19. The Third Edition edition of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills was published this year.  My highest recommendation. Also check Genealogical.com in case there’s a sale.
  • 20. Was new in 2015, The New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer, published by the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society.  This book is huge, and I mean huge.  But awesome for those troublesome New York problems.
  • 21. How to Use Evernote for Genealogy: A Step-by-Step Guide to Organize Your Research and Boost Your Genealogy Productivity by Kerry Scott would be helpful for any genealogist who has mastered normal genealogy software but is looking to organize research and family history material “in the cloud.”
  • 22. Looking farther afield for those ancestors?  My friend Barbara recommends Tracing your Irish Ancestors Fourth Edition by John Grenham and The German Research Companion by Shirley Riemer, Roger Minert, & Jennifer Anderson.  My friend Sara points out that with so many Irish records newly online, this is a great time to get going on your Irish heritage.  In fact your favorite researcher might need a subscription to FindMyPast.com.  Another suggestion I saw recently was Finding Your Mexican Ancestors by George and Peggy Ryskamp.   
  • 23. To learn more about finding immigrant records, They Came in Ships by John Philip Colletta.
  • 24. If your genealogist is surrounded by books, there are some bookends with index tabs that won’t get lost when the shelves fill up.  Actually, the Container Store has three styles I love:  Index bookends, Tower bookends with a little storage cubby, and Mod bookends.
Bookends from the Container Store

Bookends from the Container Store

I love the gavestone art from Gravestone Girls.

I love the gravestone art from Gravestone Girls.

Support genealogy small businesses

  • 31. I love the work of the Gravestone Girls.  I have a refrigerator magnet.
  • 32. Lookup the historical society for an area your genealogist is researching and see what they offer – maps are always good.  Also, the local genealogy societies usually offer publications or guides.  For instance, the Rhode Island Genealogical Society has many valuable books and cemetery guides at their online store.
  • 33.  See what you can find on Etsy!
  • 34. The idea of heritage cookbooks was sent to me by Wendy Grant Walter.  She recently purchased Great German Recipes and said: “in it are many dishes that I remember having as a kid that I assume my mom learned from her 1st generation German mom.”  At that same link many other cultures are covered, too. 
  • 35. Barb’s Branches has some attractive tree jewelry in an Etsy shop.  Among her interesting handmade “tree” pieces, she has the inspired idea of making jewelry from old silver spoons.  Amazing!
A pendant made from an antique silver spoon, by Barb's Branches.

A pendant made from an antique silver spoon, by Barb’s Branches.

  • 36. Every genealogist loves a beautifully executed family tree chart.  Two suggestions:
    • I have seen the work of Family Chartmasters and it is not only excellent, but each piece is tailored to the family’s preferences. Go to this link and scroll down to check out the samples.  If you have access to enough info, you could order one, if not, you could give a gift certificate and allow your genealogist to collaborate with Family Chartmasters on a wonderful end product.
    • i (chart) you makes beautiful custom ancestor charts; you send the data and they send you the file electronically, ready for you to have printed in the size you prefer.  This would have to be ordered by the genealogist, but a gift certificate (see the last few boxes on the main page) might be nice.  Thanks to Wendy Grant Walter for this idea. I was thinking of taking this off the list this year and then I looked at them and realized I really want one.

Make your own gift

  • 37. The family genealogist wears too many hats.  Family historian, archivist, photo restorer, report writer, researcher, local historian, cemetery rabbit.  A gift that would be appreciated is an effort to collect and produce a small book on one aspect of your family history.  Say, dad’s service in WW2, the relatives overseas from when you visited, or just everyone’s childhood.  My sister does this from time to time and it’s great.  No genealogy expertise needed, she asks me for pictures in advance, and the whole family gets a slice of its story without me having to do anything.
  • 38. A similar option would be to find, scan and print a copy of an old family photo, and frame it nicely – perhaps in an old frame.

For Rhode Island genealogy

  • 39. Good news!  All 9 volumes of The Narragansett Historical Register (originally published in the 1880’s-1890’s) are back in print from Heritage Press.  Check them out!  vol.1  vol.2  vol.3  vol.4  vol.5  vol.6  vol.7  vol. 8  vol.9  How about one volume a year?
Narragansett Historical Register, modern reprint

Narragansett Historical Register, modern reprint

  • 40. I heartily and strongly recommend the recent book Rhode Island in the American Revolution: A Source Guide for Genealogists and Historians by Eric G. Grundset for the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR Source Guides on the American Revolution Series No. 4), 2014. Quite a bargain at $25.  It is 200 pages of guidance on where to find Rhode Island records from the 1770’s and 1780’s, but it will not contain the records themselves – most of those are buried in archives and manuscripts.
Rhode Island in the American Revolution - A source Guide for Genealogists and Historians, by Eric G Grundset

Rhode Island in the American Revolution – A source Guide for Genealogists and Historians, by Eric G Grundset

  • 41. The most valuable book for those with ancestors in Rhode Island during the 1600’s is The Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island by John O. Austin, published by Genealogical Publishing.  It maps the first three generations of many early Rhode Island families. You can sometimes find a cheaper used copy on eBay, but be sure to buy a version with additions and corrections from the 1960’s – 70’s.
  • 42. The Rhode Island Historical Society has a bookstore at the John Brown House, and online, offering my favorite print of Providence ever, President Street by Joseph Partridge, 1822. I also love Market Square.  Only $15 each.
  • 43. New England Court Records by Diane Rappaport.
  • 44. Spirit of 76 in Rhode Island by Benjamin Cowell for listings of R.I. Revolutionary War soldiers.
  • 45. The complete three volume New England Marriages Before 1700 by Clarence Almon Torrey would be quite a thrill for any serious early New England researcher.  It seems to be falling out of print; try searching for it here or here.
  • 46. A gift membership in the Rhode Island Genealogical Society is a terrific gift for the serious Rhode Island genealogist.

Trying something new

  • 47. For those new to DNA testing, and looking for an easy way to try it out, I could recommend an Ancestry DNA test kit.  Your genealogist will use the kit to submit a sample (in fact, it will be important to the genealogist to choose WHO will be sampled) which will be analyzed, and the results, available online, will show links to other individuals.
  • 48. A better choice for the same money, for a genealogist who is more experienced, is the Family Tree DNA Family Finder test kit.  Family Tree DNA gives enough information to more accurately allow you to estimate, if the right people are tested, the common source of your matches.

Caution I brake for cemeteries

FREE FOR EVERYBODY:  My vintage Christmas gift tag sheets on Pinterest, ready for printing.

ALSO:  Check out Anne Wagner (of Rhode Island)’s PDF handout on GIFTS GENEALOGISTS MAY WANT TO GIVE.  I may try some of these!

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It’s easy to record a practice run of your Powerpoint presentation, complete with audio, and watch it on your computer.  It’s a great way to prepare for a speaking engagement.  I used Powerpoint for years before I discovered this easy utility; nothing in Powerpoint makes it obvious.

The only thing you’ll need is your prepared Powerpoint presentation and a headset. I am using a PC and Office 2016.

Microsoft Lifechat headphones plug into a USB port on your computer

Microsoft Lifechat headphones plug into a USB port on your computer

Step 1  Create a copy of your presentation

This process will add an audio file to each of your slides.  That will greatly increase the size of the file, by 500-600%.  So start by making an extra “practice recording” copy of your presentation, and working with that.  You can discard it later. That way you don’t increase the size of your final document.


Step 2  Fix your settings

Open the new copy of your finished presentation.  Go to the Slide Show tab.  “Play Narrations” and “Use Timings” should be checkmarked.  Put on your headphones and plug them into the computer.



Step 3  Start recording

Use “Record Slide Show” —  sub-choice: “Record from beginning.”  This brings up the recording screen.  There is a large RED BUTTON in the upper corner – clicking that starts the recording session.  Then, speaking into your headset microphone, make your presentation while clicking through the slides.  Both the sound and the timing will all be recorded.  My presentation takes about an hour; the timing showed during recording so I could pace myself.

TIP: Sound is only recorded slide-by slide.  So don’t speak during the slide transitions.

I noticed while doing it that I wasn’t allowed to click backwards at all, only progress forward through the slides.  During the taping, the red button turned into a button that could be used to stop or pause.


When you click past the final slide, a message will appear saying to click to end the presentation.  Clicking anything at that point ends it.  The screen goes back to normal.

Step 4  Review your presentation

Now, back in the normal editing view of your powerpoint slides, you will notice that each slide has a gray audio icon in the lower corner.


At this point, seeing the audio icons reassures you that the sound was recorded.

If for any reason you ever want to remove the audio from that slide, just click the icon, delete it, and the sound is deleted.  Or, your voice (“narrations”) could be deleted under the Slide Show tab, using “Record Slide Show” — “Clear” — “Clear narrations …”

If you stopped completely mid-way through, it’s also possible to re-launch your recording by going to the slide where you want to keep going, and selecting Record Slide Show and “Record from Current Slide.”  In my experience, the most recent taping of the slideshow is saved.

Step 5  Play your recorded presentation

To play your recorded presentation, go to the Slide Show tab again.  Click “From Beginning.”

This brings up the presentation and begins to play it.  You can either listen on your headphones, or unplug them and the sound should come directly from the computer.

Step 6  If you want to save or share your video

If all you want to do is review your own presentation, you’re done.  If you want to share your recorded video, and don’t want to share it as a Powerpoint file, then you can save it as an WMV or MP4 file.  I’m still testing that out.

Good luck with recording your video!

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Working With A Strategy

It’s easy to get caught in a cycle of web searches or casual queries that produce spotty and confusing results, or no results at all.  Once we realize that the answer to our difficult family history question won’t come that way, it frees us up to consider the alternative sources that may provide evidence, strategies to get around unrecorded events, and a plan for research that, if nothing else, will guarantee greater expertise in the era, the place, and the available resources.

Research question

My question comes from an East Greenwich deed of my 4x-great grandparents, Jesse and Sarah (Arnold) Andrews. I am related to them in the following way:  my grandmother Edna May Darling – her father Russell E Darling – his mother Emma L Lamphere – her mother Hannah Andrews, daughter of Jesse and Sarah.

How and why were Jesse and Sarah, in 1800, the owners of a property worth $900?  Subsequently, they seemed to be poor; living in Warwick near her family and moving on to Connecticut where they owned only a small property with a significant mortgage.  The kind of records that suggest money – probate, gravestones, church pews, business licenses, town appointments, recording vital records, and newspaper mentions – don’t seem to exist for Jesse Andrews.  Did he start out well off?

Abstract of the deed

Andrews to Spencer, Warranty Deed
East Greenwich, Kent County, Rhode Island
Land Evidence 10:527
Drawn 26 Feb 1800, recorded 26 Feb 1800
JESSE ANDREWS of East Greenwich “Yeoman alias Mariner” for nine hundred dollars paid by Captain JOSEPH SPENCER of East Greenwich, Mariner, “have sold a lot of land with a dwelling house and other buildings” located in East Greenwich, described as:
“Containing by Estimation about twenty seven Square Rods be the same more or Less and bounded as followeth. East on the Main Street or Post Road, South Part on Land of STEPHEN GREEN JOHN CASEY and CLARK BROWN, West on a Lot of Land belonging to the Heirs of OLIVER ARNOLD Late Deceased and North on a Street or Highway. “
“I the said JESSE ANDREWS do Promise” that
“I am the true sole & Lawful owner of the above bargained premises and Lawfully seized & Possessed of the same in my own Proper Right as a good Perfect and absolute Estate of inheritance in fee simple[.]”
Dower release by SARAH ANDREWS, wife of JESSE ANDREWS. 26 February A.D. 1800. [signed] JESSE ANDREWS (seal), SARAH ANDREWS (+) “her mark” (seal). Witnesses: DAN TAYLOR, ANDREW BOYD.
Recorded February 26th AD 1800; JESSE and SARAH ANDREWS personally appeared in East Greenwich.

Analysis of current deed (see full transcription at bottom of this post)

Jesse Andrews was a “Yeoman Alias Mariner” in this deed; from prior research I know he had a Seaman’s Protection Certificate from Providence and was documented on at least one voyage in 1794. So apparently he was transitioning to a Yeoman.  And yet, he owns only 27 square rods of land  – less than ¼ acre.  Clearly he would do very little farming or animal husbandry there.

The sale price of $900 seems extraordinary.  There is no mention of a mortgage in any way, nor do other deeds suggest that.  From all later accounts the family seems poor. Were their earlier fortunes much better?  Jesse’s father died in the late 1780’s, when Jesse was a teenager, leaving no surviving probate record.  Only two sons are documented as surviving him; the other moved to Rensselaer County, New York and did well.  Did Jesse start life with a reasonable inheritance?

“Main Street or Post Road” is the same street then as today; the main street of downtown East Greenwich, a thriving community with the Bay to the East with a small port, quickly turning (at this earlier period) to farmland on the west side.  Through previous research I know Jesse’s property, from this deed, was located at the corner of Main and Montrose Streets.

This map of 1820 East Greenwich is provided as evidence that King Street, leading down to the bay, was the main thoroughfare of East Greenwich, not Main Street, where my ancestor had a house. That goes a long way to explain how my ancestor could afford such a classy address - maybe it wasn't - from The History of East Greenwich by McPartland, p. 51.

This map of 1820 East Greenwich is provided as evidence that King Street, leading down to the bay, was the main thoroughfare of East Greenwich, not Main Street, where Jesse Andrews’ house was. – from The History of East Greenwich by McPartland, p. 51.

Sarah cannot write her name, but being female this doesn’t provide much evidence of financial standing of her family.  Jesse can write, which suggests, at least, a financially stable childhood.

One abutter was Oliver Arnold.  Sarah Andrews’ maiden name was Arnold and her father was Joseph.  Was Oliver related to her?

The house was sold in February; by mid-year Jesse was enumerated in nearby Warwick between his mother and his father in law (and again in 1810).  Depending on the exact location, that could be just a few blocks away.  With money in hand, it’s hard to imagine why the couple retreated to their parents’ neighborhood and did not appear to own property again for the next two decades.

Witness “Dan Taylor” is related to the Campbell family, previous owners of this property and relatives of a noted local genealogist.  Further evidence from that quarter should turn up the exact location and history of this property.

Research plan

1. Look at other deeds for Jesse Andrews, in particular, the documents that explain his acquisition of this property. Look at the surrounding towns to find ALL property records for Jesse’s father, Philip Andrews, and investigate through deeds and probate exactly what Philip inherited from his own father.

  • Deeds (use grantor and grantee index volumes) for Jesse Andrews, Philip Andrews, and John Andrews in Warwick, East Greenwich, and Coventry, R.I.
  • Check for early Mortgage records which may be filed separately in East Greenwich.
  • Probate for Jesse’s grandfather John Andrews in East Greenwich or Warwick.

2. Determine the meaning of Yeoman beyond just farming; also, Warranty Deed.

  • Blacks Law Dictionary
  • Researchers Guide to American Genealogy
  • East Greenwich and Warwick deeds in my possession

3. Look for tax records in East Greenwich.

  • Inquire at the East Greenwich town clerk’s office about the federal 1798 Direct Tax, to verify that the East Greenwich list is lost.
  • Also ask if any other tax records survive from 1795-1801.
Bruce McGunnigle's recent guide to historic East Greenwich is helpful for pinning down locations of property. The East Greenwich Free Library provides additional manuscript materials.

Bruce McGunnigle’s recent guide to historic East Greenwich is helpful for pinning down locations of property. The East Greenwich Free Library provides additional manuscript materials.

4. Investigate the neighbor Oliver Arnold.

  • Greene, D.H. History of the Town of East Greenwich and Adjacent Territory (Providence, 1877).
  • Adamson, Thaire H. and Marion Fry.  A History of East Greenwich Rhode Island : as published in The East Greenwich Packet.  East Greenwich, R.I. : East Greenwich Preservation Society, 1996.
  • Use East Greenwich deeds to determine who the previous owner of Oliver’s property was.
  • The Arnold Memorial by Elisha Arnold
  • If necessary: James Arnold’s Vital Record of Rhode Island, vol. 1
  • If necessary: Search Rhode Island Roots at americanancestors.org.

5. Determine the value of $900 in 1800; was currency in fluctuation; was it controlled by the federal government or the state at that time.

  • Find a journal article or book that explains currency fluctuations 1790-1810.

6. Examine the three abutters – Stephen Green, John Casey, and Clark Brown – listed on the deed, to seek relatives for Sarah.

  • Greene, D.H. History of the Town of East Greenwich and Adjacent Territory (Providence, 1877).
  • McPartland, Martha R.  The History of East Greenwich, Rhode Island 1677-1960 With Related Genealogies (East Greenwich Free Library Association, 1960).
  • Casey Family of Casey Farm, vertical file at Rhode Island Historical Society.
  • The Brown Family History II: Tracing the Clark Brown Line by Spooner, Platz and Young, at R.I. Historical Society Library.
  • The Clarke Family of Rhode Island by George Austin Morrison available online at http://digital.library.yale.edu/cdm/ref/collection/rebooks/id/101779
  • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher. “Gleanings from Rhode Island Town Records: East Greenwich Town Council Records, 1734-1774.” Rhode Island Roots. Special Bonus Issue 2008 (April 2008).
  • Bamberg, Cherry Fletcher. “Gleanings from Rhode Island Town Records: East Greenwich Town Council Records, 1775-1800.” Rhode Island Roots. Special Bonus Issue 2009 (April 2009).
  • James Arnold’s Vital Record of Rhode Island, vol. 1
  • Search Rhode Island Roots at americanancestors.org.

7. Study the backgrounds of the witnesses, Dan Taylor and Andrew Boyd, especially in light of Dan Taylor’s appearance in prior deeds.

  • MacGunnigle, Bruce Campbell. “Archibald Campbell Esq.: Ancestors and Descendants; Part One.”  Rhode Island Roots, 32:1 (Mar 2006) 1-22.
  • Adamson, Thaire H. “The Campbell Chronicle” in A History of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, Second Printing (East Greenwich, R.I. Preservation Society, 1996) 116-117.

8. Learn more about the purchaser, Joseph Spencer. What were his subsequent activities on the property? Do they suggest some type of outfitting or location specifics that could reveal something about the uses Jesse and Sarah had for the house?  Look in local journals, newspapers, and, if necessary, probate.

  • McPartland, Martha R.  The History of East Greenwich, Rhode Island 1677-1960 With Related Genealogies (East Greenwich Free Library Association, 1960).
  • Greene, D.H. History of the Town of East Greenwich and Adjacent Territory (Providence, 1877).
  • MacGunnigle, Bruce C. Strolling in Historic East Greenwich. Charleston, SC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014.

In closing

Working on a strategy is time well spent.  A written research strategy can be taken to repositories, and amended as new evidence comes up.  Notes and footnotes can be taken adjacent to the items on the list, forming a quick research report, ready for analysis.

More on the outcomes of this research later.

Signature of Jesse and Sarah Andrews on the deed. He signed, she made her mark.

Signature of Jesse and Sarah Andrews on the deed. He signed, she made her mark.


Transcription of deed

Andrews to Spencer, Warranty Deed
East Greenwich, Kent County, Rhode Island
Land Evidence 10:527
Drawn 26 Feb 1800, recorded 26 Feb 1800
To all People to whom these Presents shall Come, I Jesse Andrews of East Greenwich in the County of Kent and State of Rhode Island Yeoman alias Mariner send Greeting. Know ye that I the said Jesse Andrews for and in Consideration of the sum of Nine Hundred Dollars to me in Hand before the Ensealing thereof, well and Truly Paid by Capt. Joseph Spencer of said East Greenwich in said County of Kent Mariner, the Receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge and myself therewith fully satisfied Contented and Paid, and thereof and of every Part and Parcel thereof do exonerate acquit and discharge him the said Joseph Spencer his heirs Executors and Administrators, forever by these Presents Have Given, granted, bargained sold assined, enfeoffed Conveyed and Confirmed, and by these Presents do freely, fully and absolutely Give, Grant bargain sell assine enfeoffe Convey and Confirm unto him the said Joseph Spencer his heirs and assigns forever a Certain Lot of Land With a Dwelling House & other Buildings thereon standing situate in East Greenwich aforesaid said Lot Containing by Estimation about Twenty seven square Rods be the same more or Less and bounded as followeth. East on the Main Street or Post Road, South Part on Land of Stephen Green John Casey and Clark Brown, West on a Lot of Land belonging to the Heirs of Oliver Arnold Late Deceased and North on a Street or Highway. To Have and to Hold the said Granted and bargained Premises, with all the appurtenances, Privilidges & Commodeties to the same belonging or in anywise appertaining to him the said Joseph Spencer his heirs & assigns forever to his and their only proper use benefit and behalf forever, and I the said Jesse Andrews for myself my heirs Executors & Administrators do Covenant Promise and Grant to & with the said Joseph Spencer his heirs and assigns that at and before the Ensealing hereof I am the true sole & Lawful owner of the above bargained premises and Lawfully seized & Possessed of the same in my own Proper Right as a good Perfect and absolute Estate of inheritance in fee simple & have in my self Good Right full Power and Lawfull Authority to Grant bargain Sell Convey and Confirm the said bargained Premises in Manner as aforesaid and that the said Joseph Spencer his heirs & assigns shall and may from time to time and at all times forever hereafter by force and Virtue of these Presents Lawfully Peaceably and Justly Have hold and[?] occupy Possess and Enjoy the said devised & bargained Premises with the appurtinances freely and Clearly acquitted Exonerated and discharged of and from all & all Manner of former or other Gifts Grants bargains Sales Leases Mortgages Wills Entails Jointures Dowries Judgments Executions & incumbrances of what Name or Nature soever[?] that might in any Measure or Dagne [?] or make void the Present Deed. Furthermore I the said Jesse Andrews for me my heirs Executors & Administrators do Covenant & Engage the above devised Premises to him the said Joseph Spencer his heirs & assigns against the lawful
Claims or demands of any Person or Persons whatsoever, forever to Warrant Secure and Defend by these Presents & Sarah Andrews Wife of the said Jesse Andrews for the Consideration above Mentioned doth Yield up and surrender unto the before mentioned Joseph Spencer his heirs & assigns forever all her Right of Dower & Power of thirds in & unto the before described Lot of Land & Premises. In Witness whereof we the said Jesse Andrews and Sarah Andrews have hereunto set our Hand and Seal this Twenty Sixth Day of February Anno Domi 1800 — —
Jesse Andrews (seal)
Sarah + Andrews (seal)
Signed Sealed & Delivered in Presence of
Dan Taylor
Andrew Boyd
Recorded & Compd with the original February 26th AD 1800 by
H. Cooke,Tn Clk
Kent / East Greenwich the day & year above Mentioned Personally appeared the above subscribers Jesse Andrews & Sarah Andrews & acknowledged the above Deed of sale to be their voluntary act & Deed hand and seal thereunto affixed before me
A. Boyd Just. Peace —


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This is the page for all things that did not fit well in the other categories, but have been very helpful to me.

Archives & manuscripts

Portsmouth Free Public Library, Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Portsmouth Free Public Library, Portsmouth, Rhode Island


  • Allison Goodsell Books, 2528 Kingstown Rd, Kingston, RI – many standard Rhode Island genealogy series and books, secondhand. 
  • Paper Nautilus, 5 South Angell, Providence, RI – a variety of important Rhode Island history books, not much genealogy.
  • Lavendier Books online on eBay – a good selection of Rhode Island genealogy classics and history books, secondhand.

Boston Transcript

  • The Boston Transcript was a Boston, Massachusetts newspaper that regularly carried a page of genealogical questions and answers.  That feature ran for several decades in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s. It is gradually becoming easier to locate these papers online.

Church Records

First Baptist Church in America, Providence

First Baptist Church in America, Providence

City Directories

Court records

  • request a pre-1900 divorce record, use this form at the Rhode Island Judicial Records Center.
  • Colonial Justice: Early Rhode Island Court Records Project offers a small set of court records from the Rhode Island Historical Society.
  • Fiske, Jane Fletcher. Gleanings from Newport Court Files 1659-1783. Boxford, Massachusetts: 1998.
  • Fiske, Jane Fletcher, transcriber. Rhode Island General Court of Trials 1671-1704. Boxford, Massachusetts, 1998.
  • Rappaport, Diane. New England Court Records. Burlington, Mass.: Quill Pen Press, 2006. [a guide to finding records in the New England states]
  • Kent County Divorces from Court Records by Katherine Bruce and Violet E. Kettelle.   Rhode Island Roots 14:2 (Jun 1988) p. 41-50.
  • Petitions to the Rhode Island General Assembly from the Rhode Island State Archives. Volume 1 (1725-1729): Rhode Island Roots 20:1 (Mar 1994) p. 5-7.  Volume 2 (1728-1733): 20:2 (Jun 1994) p. 41-45.  Volume 3 (1734-1738): 20:3 (Sep 1994) p. 87-93.  Volume 4 (1739-1742): 20:4 (Dec 1994) p. 121-126.  Volume 5 (1739-1743):  21:1 (Mar 1995) p. 25-29.  Volume 6 (1743-1748): 21:2 (Jun 1995) p. 44-48.  Volume 7 (1748-1750):  21:4 (Dec 1995) p. 118-122.  Volume 8 (1751-1754)  23:1 (Mar 1997) p. 13-20.




  • Ancestry.com:  Rhode Island, Indexes to Naturalization Records, 1890-1992
  • Taylor, Maureen A. Rhode Island Passenger ListsPort of Providence 1798-1808; 1820-1872 Port of Bristol and Warren 1820-1871; Compiled from United States Custom House Papers.  Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1995.

Historical stuff


Laws and government

People of color in Rhode Island

  • Black and Indian Sailors Born in Rhode Island: Bristol Customs House Protection Papers by Jeffrey Howe.  Rhode Island Roots 31:1 (Mar 2005) p. 91-98 and 31:3 (Sep 2005) p. 143-155. New London  31:4 (Dec 2005) p. 196-200.  New Bedford  32:1 (Mar 2006) p. 43-44.  New Bedford 32:2 (Jun 2006) p. 91-93.  Providence  32:3 (Sep 2006) p. 156-163 also 32:4 (Dec 2006) p. 197-207, 33:1 (Mar 2007) p. 34-49.
  • Manumissions in Providence, 1784-1800 by Linda L. Mathew.  Rhode Island Roots 32:4 (Dec 2006) p. 193-196.
  • Smithfield, R.I. Manumissions: Glasco, Jenne, and Their Children by Charlotte Scozzafava.  Rhode Island Roots 34:2 (Jun 2008) : p. 98-101.
  • Free People of Color in the 1825 Census of Providence, R.I. by Jeffrey Howe.  Rhode Island Roots 36:1 (Mar 2010) p. 26-32.
  • Men of Color in the R.I. Regimental Book for 1781 by Bruce C. MacGunnigle. Part One: Piracy and Piety in Newport Rhode Island Roots 38:4 (Dec 2012) : p. 206.
  • Blacks in the 1774 Census of Rhode Island by David Lambert.  Rhode Island Roots 22:3 (Sep 1996) p. 90-94.


  • Checklist of R.I. Photographers from City Directories by Stephen P. Gross. This project was introduced in 33:2 (Jun 2007) p. 101-105.  [This series was continued for several years and covered many R.I. cities and towns, as an aid to those trying to identify a photograph.]

Records of the poor

  • Herndon, Ruth Wallis. Unwelcome Americans (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001).
  • Smithfield’s Town Poor, 1850 by Elizabeth J. Johnson and Roger D. Joslyn.  Rhode Island Roots 15:1 (Mar 1989) : p. 22-23.  [by combining information from an 1850 printed book, identifying inmates in R.I. poor farms by initials only, with the 1850 federal census that provides names of inmates, the authors compiled of list of “cause of poverty” and “birthplace” for each inmate, and suggested the procedure could work for all Rhode Island poor farms in 1850.  A great idea.]
  • Burial Records from the State Institutions at Howard by Florence Patenaude.  Rhode Island Roots 24:1/2 (Mar/Jun 1998) p. 71-110. Continued in 24: 3/4 (Sep/Dec 1998) p. 191-258.  24:1 (Mar 1999) p. 24-35.  25:2 (Jun 1999) p. 51-71.  26:3 (Sep 2000) p. 19-41. See additional note 27:1 (Mar 2001) p. 46.
  • Indentures at the Dexter Asylum, 1828-1844 by Maureen Taylor.  Rhode Island Roots 22:3 (Sep 1996) p. 68-70.
  • State Farm Records: Abstracts, 1871-1872 by Jean Therrien.  Rhode Island Roots 23:2 (Jun 1997) : p. 51-56.  23:3 (Sep 1997) p. 76-79.  23:4 (Dec 1997) p. 112-115.  25:1 (Mar 1999) p. 17-20.
  • Deaths from the Bills of the Overseers of the Poor, Richmond, Rhode Island, 1820-1850 by Vera M. Robinson.  Rhode Island Roots 29:2 (Jun 2003) p. 87-88.  See addenda 29:3 (Sep 2003) p. 161.
  • Residency Certificates from the Warwick Archives by Cherry Fletcher Bamberg.  Rhode Island Roots 31:1 (Mar 2005) p. 32-39.
  • Some Northern Rhode Island Men Unable to Equip Themselves as Required by Law, 1776 by Linda L. Mathew.  Rhode Island Roots 33:2 (Jun 2007) p. 106-110.  See also Exeter and Richmond 35:1 (Mar 2009) p. 34-37. North Kingstown 37:3 (Sep 2011) p. 142.
  • Notes on Deaths at the Smithfield Town Farm and Asylum, 1865-1870 by Mickey Finn-Jordan.  Rhode Island Roots 41:4 (Dec 2015) : p. 191-200.

In closing

I will be updating this material from time to time.  Thanks for your patience as I put these posts together.  I wish you a lot of success with your Rhode Island research!

Slater Mill, first cotton mill in the United States, Pawtucket, R.I. Library of Congress LC-USZ62-116492

Slater Mill, first cotton mill in the United States, Pawtucket, R.I. Library of Congress LC-USZ62-116492


  1. Week 1 – Vital Records
  2. Week 2 – Census Records
  3. Week 3 – Probate & Cemeteries
  4. Week 4 – Maps & Deeds
  5. Week 5 – Town Records, Histories, and Newspapers
  6. Week 6 – Published Family Genealogies
  7. Week 7 – Military and Pensions
  8. Week 8 – Everything Else

Posts are the property of One Rhode Island Family.

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