Institutional records are another class of collections that should be part of one’s genealogy research repertoire. Although most of your ancestors may not have spent time in an institution, I’ll bet that almost every family tree has several that have. So they are worth your effort to research.
Here are a few good primers for searching institutional records:
- FamilySearch – Institution and School Records
- Finding Your Ancestors in Poor House or Poor Farm Records
- Researching Ancestors in Asylums
What kind of institutions and types of records can we discover?
- Poor Farm
- Orphan Train
- Mental Hospital
- Institutional School
- Correctional institutions
Acquiring records from each of these types of institutions may be difficult because of privacy concerns, but they are worth the effort.
Below you will find free online institutional records you can use to help you discover more about your relatives who have spent time in an institution.
Note: Some of the links listed take you to a FamilySearch Collection of digital images. Near the bottom of the page under Film/Digital Notes is the name of each sub-collection. If there is a camera icon at the right of the name (in the Format column) then the collections’ images are browsable. If there is a camera with a key icon, it is only available at a Family History Center or affiliated library. If there is a film reel icon, then it is only available in microfilm format, not digital. To take full advantage, please make sure that you are logged in to FamilySearch. The results may be different if you are signed in, rather than not.
(Updated February 2024)
Rhode Island Online Institutional Records
- Kent County, Warwick Poor Farm Cemetery
- Providence County, Oakland School for Girls Cemetery
- Providence County, State Farm Cemetery
- Providence County, State Farm Cemetery Annex
- Providence County, State Home and School Cemetery (Defunct)
- Providence County, State Institution Cemetery #2
- Providence County, State Institution Cemetery #3
- Providence County, Town Asylum Lot
- Rhode Island, Rhode Island Institute for the Deaf, 1895 Report
- Rhode Island, Rhode Island State Reformatory for Women 1930 Index of Prisoners
- Rhode Island, World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, Prisoners, Insane, In Hospitals, 1917-1918
- Washington County, Poor Farm Cemetery
- Washington County, Poor Farm Lot
Good Luck and Happy Hunting!