Notes on collections at the RIHS
One of the most rewarding things about working at the RIHS is the opportunity to share our wonderful collections with our members and with the public. The incredible thing about What Cheer! Day is that for the first time, we’re going to offer people the chance to experience history in multiple ways on one day.
For example, Frank Grzyb’s talk, “Life and Death at Portsmouth Grove Hospital” will explore a little-known aspect of Civil War history in Rhode Island. Join us to hear his talk at 9:30 AM at the RIHS Library, 121 Hope Street.
Over at the John Brown House Museum, 52 Power Street, starting at 10 AM, you can tour the Rhode Island at War Civil War gallery, where you’ll see our own Registrar, Dana Signe Munroe, teaching knitters how to recreate a Civil War mitten worn by cavalry officer Job Arnold of Providence, RI. All day long in the Washington Wallpaper Room, you can find hear about the Civil War, as lived by one soldier. Mr. Frank Daly will display and discuss various aspect of life as an infantry soldier. Guests and visitors are invited to “experience” the artifacts in a “touch and ask” interaction with Mr. Daly.
And at the Aldrich House, 110 Benevolent Street, at 10:30, you can hear a panel discussion, “Interpreting the Civil War in Rhode Island,” with Chuck Arning of the National Park Service, Bard Fesmire of RiverzEdge Arts Project, Ashley Bowen-Murphy of the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage at Brown University and Erik Christiansen of Rhode Island College.
Each of these sites presents the history of the Civil War in unique ways, with different insights into how the Civil War affected different Rhode Islanders, and how we understand it today.
The Revolution is represented as well, with an encampment at the John Brown House Museum of soldiers representing Continental, French and British troops on the lawn, drilling, cooking, and demonstrating the daily life of common soldiers in the War. Inside the house, objects from the war are displayed in the Third Floor Gallery, while a selection of broadsides are on view in the Washington Wallpaper Room.
At 3:00 PM at the Library, Phoebe Bean, Printed Collection Librarian, will give a talk about Rhode Island Wartime Broadsides, discussing the printed news flashes of the 18th century. While the soldiers on the lawn wear the uniforms of the period, the broadsides reflect the near-ceaseless calls for towcloth, shoes, and stockings so necessary for the soldiers’ survival.
We don’t often get the chance to display history in so many forms all at once. Visit our events page, and find a program that appeals to you, or try something new. There’s still room in some programs, so take a look, and learn something new.