Policies + Procedures


The Providence City Archivist is mandated by City Charter to manage, preserve and act as custodian for “all historical records of the city and of such noncurrent records as shall be transferred to the division by the city clerk or any department or agency of city government.” Most of our holdings have been relocated to the archives from other municipal agencies. We have, however, accepted individual items or collections of city related material from private individuals or organizations.

Our collections, with few exceptions, are open to the public. Some fragile items have been withdrawn to ensure their preservation.


Desk space is provided to the public in the Archives Reading Room located on the 5th floor of City Hall. Our staff is committed to working closely with you in carrying out your research project. After entering the archives, you will be asked to sign the visitor’s register and place bags and briefcases in our secured lockers.

The following additional procedures apply:

  • No material may be removed from the archives. The stacks are closed to researchers unless accompanied by a staff member.
  • Use of ink pens is prohibited. Please use pencils when working with archival records.
  • Handle material carefully. Staff may require the use of cotton gloves (provided) in handling manuscript material. Fragile records may be removed from circulation by the archivist.
  • Preserve the existing order of materials given to you. This will facilitate use by other researchers. Notify staff if there appears to be misfiled or missing material.
  • No eating and drinking is allowed in the reading room and we discourage use of cell phones as a courtesy to others conducting research.
  • Researchers assume full responsibility for conforming to current copyright and literary property rights laws that may apply to certain archival holdings.
  • Staff reserves the right to inspect all bags, briefcases and packages before you leave the archives.
  • Digital photography is permitted (no flash).
  • We allow photocopying of non-fragile material. Copying, when permitted, is carried out by staff and the current cost per page is fifteen (15) cents.
  • Duplication of photographs and blueprints is allowed under certain conditions. Contact the archivist for specific details.
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