Local History & Special Collections

The Local History room is open weekdays from 10:00 am-4:00 pm (Thursdays 12:00-4:00 pm), with exceptions for meetings and capacity restrictions. 

There are many questions coming in so we ask for your patience! Questions go into a queue and are answered in the order they are received.

Westerly Library and Wilcox Park’s Special Collections encompass local history, genealogy materials, rare books, manuscripts, and artifacts.  These materials reflect the rich history of Westerly, Rhode Island and Pawcatuck, Connecticut. In addition to a wide variety of books relating to the history of Westerly and the surrounding area, the collection includes:

  • Margaret Wise Brown papers
  • Historic photographs
  • Historic documents
  • Old postcards
  • Maps
  • Westerly, RI and Stonington, CT yearbooks
  • City directories for Westerly and Pawcatuck, beginning with 1875
  • Vertical files containing clippings from local newspapers on topics of local interest

Using the Collection

Special Collections material does not circulate. Materials must not be subjected to any risk of damage during their use. 

Since many of the materials are not cataloged, it is preferred, when possible, to contact the library in advance of your visit, to determine if the desired information is available. It may take some time for staff to locate certain items or information.

Queries by Mail or Email

Staff can provide basic assistance with long distance research. In lieu of a research fee, a donation to Special Collections would be welcomed. We request a $10.00 donation for each search.

All search requests must be submitted in writing and include pertinent names, dates, and subjects to be researched. Please email the Special Collections Librarian, Nina Wright, for additional information at nwright@westerlylibrary.org or call 401-596-2877 ext. 310.


We welcome donations of materials that meet the criteria of the Collection Policy. Great treasures found in local attics will be cared for and shared by future generations at Westerly Library and Wilcox Park.

Local History Remote Access

Enjoy photos from home!

Westerly Library and Wilcox Park's Photo Collection on Flickr

Westerly High School Yearbooks on Flickr

Westerly Digitized Newspapers:

The Literary Echo, 1851

The Literary Echo and Pawcatuck Advertiser, 1851-1854

The Literary Echo and Pawcatuck Advertiser, 1854-1858

The Westerly Sun 1893-1950

Sanborn Maps for Washington County from the Library of Congress:

Library of Congress Sanborn Maps for Washington County


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