Conceived in 2002 and launched in 2010, the Rhode Island Furniture Archive (RIFA) at the Yale University Art Gallery documents furniture and furniture making in Rhode Island from the time of the first European colonization in 1636 through the early 19th century. Bringing together records of surviving furniture, individuals who owned it, and known furniture makers, this archive aims to provide a complete account of the specific culture, local variations, and artistic practices surrounding the first two centuries of furniture making in Rhode Island. Archive researchers have drawn on existing scholarly resources, secondary literature, and commercial publications to locate surviving examples of Rhode Island furniture and catalogue object details, such as maker, geography, and inscriptions, as well as provenance, construction notes, and bibliography. Select makers’ biographies round out this comprehensive database. Research is ongoing and the database continues to be updated; currently available for searching are more than 5,000 examples of beds, case furniture, clocks, looking glasses, seating furniture, and tables.

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Attributed to John Townsend, Bureau Table, Newport, 1775-1790.

Attributed to John Townsend, Bureau Table, Newport, 1775-1790. Mahogany, yellow-poplar, chestnut, eastern white pine. Yale University Art Gallery, Mabel Brady Garvan Collection

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