R.I. History Moves Online: Secretary of State Demonstrates Historical Research Tool

Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis unveiled a new website at Rhode Island College that provides easy access to more than one million historical documents. Joining Mollis at the unveiling was RIC President Nancy Carriuolo, along with students, faculty and administrators.

The new State Archives Online Catalog contains digitized records dating as far back as 1638, including a copy of the Declaration of Independence; letters to and from George Washington, John Hancock and Thomas Jefferson; along with census data for those interested in tracing their family history. “There are millions of documents, literally,” said Mollis.

The goal is to place this information at one’s fingertips, be the browser a journalist, historian, educator, student or simply an individual interested in the history of Rhode Island. A demonstration on how to navigate the site was provided. Later, RIC students explored the site themselves via their own laptops. Their instructor, Whitney Gordon Blankenship, assistant professor of educational studies, led them in a discussion on how the catalog could be used as a tool for teaching in elementary or high school.

“For an elementary or high school student to actually hold a historical document in their hands rather than just hear about it, makes the history more real and much easier to grasp,” said Mollis. “I am committed to preserving our history and making government more open and accessible. This will no doubt be a model for other states around the country. I am so proud of my team for making this vision a reality for Rhode Islanders.” 

To view the State Archives Online Catalog, visit www.sos.ri.gov and select the State Archives tab on the left. Once there, you may browse/search.