For several years, former Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea and current Secretary of State Greg Amore have envisioned the state moving its archives out of temporary rental spaces to its own building. This is getting closer to reality.
Amore, a former high school civics teacher in East Providence, said recently that his vision is for a stand-alone building that serves as a place for Rhode Island’s most important documents, a museum, and an educational facility.
“We’re an outlier for sure,” Amore said, noting that virtually every other state’s archives are in their own buildings, showcases for their state, something Amore hopes and expects will happen in Rhode Island.
By the end of April, he said, his office will announce a working group that will explore all aspects of developing a state archives building.
He expects a budget request to be included in the “next budget cycle” year. Amore said the governor is “on board,” and he’s working with the General Assembly. Funding for a new building, he said, would likely come from a combination of state and federal funds and philanthropy.
Currently, the archives are located at 33 Broad Street in Providence and before that, on Washington Street in Providence. The archives are open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Ask most people, and they couldn’t tell you where the archives are located, or for some, that they even exist.
Amore is hopeful that land can be found near the State House, with his preference in front of the State Administration building, across from the State House.
He discounted the option of “repurposing a building” because of the unique requirements of a building housing among the state’s most important historical documents. According to the Secretary of State’s website, “the State Archives is home to more than 10 million letters, photographs, and important state documents that form a permanent, tangible record of Rhode Island’s rich history. Our team of archivists is ready to assist you in exploring these records in person or online. State Archives resources are available digitally through the Online Catalog, and Digital Archives, which are continuously updated with new content from the collection.”