Special Collections Digital Projects and Publications

PPL has some amazing collections, including over 50,000 rare books, manuscripts, artifacts and ephemera that represent thousands of years of human history and culture. From whaling logbooks and children’s books to type specimens and World War II posters, we want you to visit and use them for yourself.

But just in case you aren’t able to be here in person (or in case you want images to use for your own creative projects), we’re making reproductions of our items available online, so you can enjoy them anytime and in any place.

Visit PPL’s digital library, ProvLibDigital.org, to download high resolution images of historic photographs, postcards, and more, from PPL collections.

Click here for more information about Special Collections and how you can visit in person.

Digital Projects

Nicholson Whaling Collection
Over 700 fully-digitized whaling logs

Updike Collection Book Trade Portraits
Over 400 images depicting printers, booksellers & other book trade members

William Arnold Autograph Collection
Over 100 manuscript items relating Rhode Island history, 17th-20th century

The George Turner Letters
Almost 200 letters by a Rhode Island Civil War soldier

Civil War Ballads
A select sampling of ballads held in the Library’s collection

Uncle Tom in Foreign Lands
A selection of foreign language editions of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s work

Rediscovered: The Glass Negative Project
Collaboration between Special Collections & the Paul S. Krot Community Darkroom at AS220

Scrimshaw Collection
A select sampling of scrimshaw held in PPL’s collection

Visit PPL’s Digital Library to explore more digitized Special Collections

Digital Editions

Walter Crane, Lionel’s Longitudes
A unique illustrated manuscript book Crane created for his son Lionel; available as a flipbook and individual images

The Manuscript Pattern-Book of R. Lee
The pattern book created by a carver who designed and created figureheads for ships

The Vinton Diaries
Journals of Major John Rogers Vinton, who served in Florida during the Seminole War

Paredes, Institución Y Origen Del Arte De La Imprenta
Printed in Madrid sometime in the 17th century, this is an early important printing manual

Catalog of the 1911 St. Bride Library Sale
The original source for the core of the Library’s Daniel Berkeley Updike Collection

A Letter to Henri IV of France
A 16th-century manuscript by Dominicus Musè in a contemporary fanfare binding


Diary of James Albert Barber
The Civil War diary of a member of the 1st Rhode Island Volunteer Light Artillery, 1862

Whaling Logbooks
Transcriptions of PPL’s whaling logbooks provided by researchers

Daniel Mowry Letters
In 1858, Daniel Mowry, an 18-year old Rhode Islander set out on a whaling voyage. Halfway through he deserted