Beginning in 2012, the RHODI Project conducted a sector-wide survey of Rhode Island's history and heritage community. The criteria for inclusion was that organizations must have collections or programs related to Rhode Island history, and must be accessible to the public. Field teams visited organizations in order to conduct the survey in person, in an effort to better learn about the historic resources within the state. The compiled data was then used to create the RHODI directory, which includes descriptive information about collections, photographs, and contact information for each organization. The directory also includes an electronic giving feature for organizations who opted in to receive donations through RHODI. We hope that users will find RHODI tobe easily searchable, inclusive, and neutral.
In the process of gathering the necessary data for the directory, the RHODI Project was also able to undertake a mapping and needs assessment of these organizations. As a comprehensive and detailed survey of Rhode Island’s history and heritage sector, we aimed to provide not only trustworthy data on which to base future grant-funded proposals for such activities as collections cataloging, capacity building advice, preservation projects, educational programming, or a virtual museum, but also the much needed impetus for synergies and collaborations.
The manageable size of Rhode Island’s territory, coupled with the plethora of historical organizations, make this initiative an ideal pilot project to be replicated elsewhere. These two interconnected initiatives – the online directory and the sector survey – are intended to advance public access to historical knowledge and provide the first steps toward identifying ‘hidden’ collections, while serving as a powerful tool to promote higher professional standards and better public accountability.