Notes on collections at the RIHS
This past weekend I decided to take a hike in the woods, despite the fact that the sun really has not shown itself yet this season!
The George B. Parker Woodland Wildlife Refuge in Coventry, Rhode Island is owned by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island (ASRI). Home to trails, brooks, cairns, the remnants of a stone foundation for a house and outbuildings, and of course many birds, the Parker Refuge hike was a morning well spent.
The ASRI was founded in 1897 “for the purpose of securing protection for native wild birds, some of which were in danger of extermination, and also to give information with regard to their value and need of conservation.”
In 1928, George B. Parker generously offered over 300 acres of land to the ASRI near the Coventry/Foster border. This gift was graciously accepted with the condition the organization could raise the necessary $25,000 to secure an endowment for its development and maintenance. Today, it is a great spot to visit for a few hours!
The Rhode Island Historical Society collections include the Audubon Society of Rhode Island Records, 1884-1980 (MSS 271). These papers cover the history of the ASRI, its business operations, and research notes. Of particular note are the efforts of Education Programs Coordinator Alice Hall Walter, and the field books of naturalist Harry Hathaway.
The observations by Hathaway comprise detailed notes on the numbers and species of birds spotted throughout Rhode Island over decades spent documenting the migratory seasons. Covering more than 60 years (1884-1940s), Hathaway’s notes offer an excellent record of the changes in Rhode Island’s natural history.
The Rhode Island Historical Society collections include much to inspire your outdoor exploration of Rhode Island.
~ Michelle Chiles, Research Center Manager
Past blog posts featuring the great outdoors: