Rhode Island Archival and Manuscript Collections Online

For Participating Institutions

James N. Arnold Collection (MSS033)

Providence Public Library

150 Empire Street
Providence, RI 02903
Tel: 401-455-8021
Fax: 401-455-8065
email: ricoll@provlib.org

Scope & content

This collection consists of material compiled and written by James N. Arnold, between 1860-1927 and of typescripts by volunteers continuing his work until 1935. This collection contains numerous research topics and writings related to the history of Rhode Island.

It includes personal records of James N. Arnold such as Arnold family genealogy records and correspondence, James Arnold’s personal writings, weather journals and photographs. Business records include material related to printing and sales of his publications. Research materials include transcriptions of cemetery records, vital records, and probates from Rhode Island towns and cities, topics related to the history of Rhode Island during the colonial period, Revolutionary War, and Civil War. Specific topics include the Narragansett Indians, numerous family genealogies and histories, town histories, deeds and probate records, military records, numerous essays on various subjects. The collection also includes cemetery and vital records from parts of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. There are also two card indexes that relate to numerous material throughout Arnold’s collection.

Upon his death in 1927, Arnold bequeathed his library and research materials to the Elmwood Public Library in Providence, Rhode Island (now the Knight Memorial Library). The original bequest included 1500 genealogical works, 2500 bound volumes and over 10,000 pamphlets in addition to his research and manuscript materials and glass plate negatives. The library of published items (genealogical works, bound volumes and pamphlets) was not maintained as a discrete collection. The glass plate negatives were transferred to the Providence Public Library sometime in the 2000s and are organized into VM 014, James N. Arnold Glass Plate Negative Collection.

During processing of this collection, a handwritten transcript copy of “Land Evidence Book, 1648-1696” was discarded due to poor condition since the original work is available in many published copies.