Paul Campbell, City Archivist (center) is flanked by Claire Bestwick, Deputy Archivist (right) and Nathan Lavigne, Archival Assistant (left).
A formal archival program for the City of Providence was established in 1978 as part of a year-long centennial observance marking the dedication of City Hall. The archives, located on the 5th floor of City Hall, houses extensive collections of manuscripts, printed material, maps, blueprints, and photographic images that span the period from the colony's founding in 1636 to the present.
The nearly 40,000 cubic feet of records detail all aspects of the development and operation of municipal government. Highlights of the holdings include vital and probate records, house and city directories, local census data, deed books as well as collections of maps and atlases.
These collections offer researchers a unique opportunity to trace the history of New England's second largest city from its settlement as a coastal village, through its transformation into a national industrial powerhouse in the nineteenth century. Two wars, a national depression and the contraction of its industrial base reversed the forward momentum, but an urban renaissance in the late twentieth century has reinvigorated the city and quickened the tempo of development.
The archives staff is ready to assist you with your research needs. Please see the Policies and Procedures page for details on using our collections.