Family History Workshop Series

Diggin’ Your Roots . . .

The Providence Public Library’s Rhode Island Collection is excited to continue to present a series of genealogy learning events in collaboration with the Rhode Island Historical Society.  With offerings for both the novice and experienced genealogy researcher, these events are designed to encourage you to research your own genealogy and to document your family stories. You are welcome to sign up for all the workshops or just the ones that interest you. 

Check out the full joint calendar of events! Reservations for classes held at PPL are required via the website. Reservations for workshops held at RIHS are reserved by emailing  

Please contact Kate Wells at with any questions.

Genealogy Research Basics

What is genealogy? How do you start to build your own family tree? This workshop will cover the basics to get you started. We’ll cover basic research methods, traditional numbering systems and free websites that allow you to create your family tree online. We will guide you through how to search genealogical databases, what kinds of records are available online, how to effectively search for them and how to use them to document your genealogy.

Basic comfort using a computer for online research required.

Instructor: Kate Wells, Rhode Island Collection Librarian 

*Laptops and iPads available for class use. If you'd like to reserve one, please send an email to after registering.

Genealogy Without Tears: Advanced Research Skills 

You’ve outlined the basics, your family tree is growing, and you’re looking to advance your research skills.  This workshop will give you some tips to take you to the next level. You’ll learn about locating and using non-digital sources like manuscripts collections, property deeds and probate. You’ll identify secondary sources to expand your contextual research in order to understand the time and place in which your ancestor lived. You’ll review new options for keeping your research organized including online citation management software, organizing your files and backing up your research.

Basic comfort using a computer for online research required. Laptops and iPads are available for class use. If you'd like to reserve one, please email after registering. 

Instructor: Kate Wells, Rhode Island Collection Librarian

African-American Genealogy

Learn about new strategies and resources for uncovering the lives of your African-American ancestors with public historian and educator Elon Cook. Attendees are encouraged to bring photos and mementos to be scanned for inclusion in R.I. Historical Society online exhibit commemorating 20th Century contributions to Rhode Island.

Instructor: Elon Cook, The Center for Reconciliation

Register with the Rhode Island Historical Society at

French-Canadian Genealogy

There are numerous resources for tracing French Canadian ancestors. Researchers from the American-French Genealogical Society in Woonsocket will  explain those resources and show you how to use them in your family search. 

Instructor: Normand Deragon, American-French Genealogical Society

Register with the Rhode Island Historical Society here:

8 Steps to Preserving Your Family Photographs

Photo preservation basics from storage to labeling and everything in-between. Each step includes low-cost solutions that won’t bust your budget. Bring your preservation related questions!

Instructor: Maureen Taylor, Photo Detective


Tracing the Wave: Researching your Immigrant Ancestors

From ship passenger lists to naturalization applications, tracing an immigrant ancestor can be challenging. Come learn about the local and regional resources that will help focus your research. 
Instructors: Phoebe Bean, Librarian, RIHS & Andrew Smith, Keeper of Archival Records,R.I. Judicial Records Center.
Register with the Rhode Island Historical Society here:


Pretty Preservation: Creating Scrapbooks, Albums & More

What fun are family photos if you can’t look at or enjoy them? Learn about resources and tools to help you share family photos, papers, and other memorabilia once you have them safely preserved and stored. From archival albums and scrapbooking to digital albums and projects, find out how you can share your family memories while keeping the originals safe for years to come. 

Instructor: Michelle Chiles, Research Center Coordinator, RIHS

Register with the Rhode Island Historical Society here: