Monday, January 27, 2014

Challenges and Discoveries

One of my favorite places to work is the Reading Room at the Rhode Island Historical Society Library. Since its recent closure (see their website /, with deadlines looming, I have been forced (let's say challenged, instead) to seek out alternative repositories for my research. I've already posted about how much I love the Providence Public Library, but to avoid a trip downtown, where parking is difficult, I went off to the library at Rhode Island College. I had never been, but it was their school break, and they had one of the ProScan 2000 microfilm readers for my perusal of the Providence Journal. While I didn't have time to explore, it is definitely on my list of places to return to, particularly for it's special collections, The Cape Verdean Collection ( and the Joseph R. Muratore Collection of Italian American materials (

My other trip was to Woonsocket, both the American-French Genealogical Society ( library, and the Woonsocket Harris Public Library ( While I have been to AFGS many times, the addition of the Family History Center, new computer databases and some lovely new donations (that I am not allowed to reveal), their collection of French Canadian and RI and MA resources is fantastic. I also found a unique source for records of the Catholic Diocese of Providence. Check them out for yourself, because I was amazed at the parish records they have on film. The public library was also a wonderful discovery. While I usually would use the microfilm at the RIHSL for the local newspaper, The Call, RIHSL does not have a ProScan microfilm reader to digitize the films. Everything on microfilm has to be printed. The digital microfilm reader at the Woonsocket Public Library was a boon! No printing out the pages and taking them home to scan. A bit of a drive, but perhaps more efficient in the long run.

While it's not much fun to truck around RI in the winter snow (and it snowed on my way to Woonsocket), the unfortunate closure of my main research library has helped expand my horizons, and forced me to be creative and more adventurous for my research, and that's not a bad thing, at all. Maybe I'll find some other new places while the library remains closed, and I'll have something new to write about!