Online database stores Rhode Island historical docs

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Historians interested in tracing Rhode Island’s past can now use an online database to view objects currently being held in the State Archives.

Users can search the custom online database to find items from the state’s past dating back to the 1630s, according to The Providence Journal. Documents that have been scanned into the system include the original deed to the colony as granted to founder Roger Williams and letters from Revolutionary War figures Thomas Jefferson and John Hancock.

Online database will evolve

The online database is incomplete due to the enormity of the task of scanning a collection of documents dating back almost 400 years. As the project evolves, users will be able to search under several criteria, including family name, date and occupation. The archives are maintained by the Secretary of State’s office and the creation of the online database is being led by state archivist Gwenn Stern.

“This is an invaluable tool for anyone interested in accessing information about the holdings, detailed finding aids, images and links to other resources from the comfort of their own home, school, work, or when they’re on the go,” Rhode Island Secretary of State Ralph Mollis said.

Users of the online database are expected to include schoolchildren, historians and casual Internet browsers. While the bulk of the state’s collection of documents may not be available for some time, researchers will be able to use the site to determine whether information on a particular law or some  other facet of Rhode Island’s history is available.