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, Curator of Rhode Island Collections

Advanced Research & Database 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, Curator of Rhode Island Collections

Learn, Save & Write Family Food History

In this workshop we’ll explore foodways through the historical, cultural and traditions of your family. We’ll discuss ways to discover that food history by interviewing relatives, and studying artifacts.  Learn how to save those memories by surveying a variety of writing solutions.

Instructor: Maureen Taylor

Mastering Manuscript Research

Have you always wondered how to access genealogical information in manuscript collections? This workshop will teach you to delve into data beyond published books. Manuscripts include all sorts of unpublished materials from personal diaries to town tax lists that can help trace ancestors and larger family branches.

Instructor: Pheobe Bean, RIHS Librarian

Register with the Rhode Island Historical Society.

Ask the Librarians

Here’s your chance to connect with the minds behind the desk! Come ready to break through those brick walls and tie up loose ends in your genealogical research! Bring prepared questions to ask this panel of librarians and research associates who specialize in genealogy. We will do our best to help you navigate tricky questions and provide search tips to help you fill in those details.

Instructors: Michelle Chiles (RIHS), Phoebe Bean (RIHS), Jen Galpern (RIHS) & Kate Wells (PPL)

Register with the Rhode Island Historical Society.

Create Your Own Family Cookbook

memories. We will explore a few websites and the steps to upload images, design, and print a family cookbook. While we will briefly review scanning and digital file storage options, the focus of the workshop will be on using the digitized images and documents to create a shareable book! Basic understanding of computers and using digital images will be useful.

Instructor: Michelle Chiles, Research Center Coordinator, RIHS

Register with the Rhode Island Historical Society.