Welcome to the BH&PS web site. 
We also have a Facebook page so please don't forget to "Like" us at


Come visit us!! 
Our building is so cool!  
It's a 1828 jail where not only the prisoners were jailed
but also where the jailer and his wife and children lived. 
There are two very dark old cells on the second floor
and even a VIP jail cell with a fireplace and a window.  
The rear 1858 jail block of 10 austere cells with bars as doors is still intact.  
Come see for yoursel

Open Hours:
1:00 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays
1:00 to 4 p.m. Summer Saturdays (June to October)
and always by special appointment.

Call ahead for special tours of our collections or for access to our research library.  Books on Bristol history, historic maps, prints and other items are available for sale in our Museum Corner Gift Shop during open hours.

Society members will receive direct mailings of upcoming events 
and this site will provide updates as they occur.  To become a
 member, stop by the Society during open hours or click on 
the membership page to your left.


will be held on Saturday, September 21st

First House Tour Committee Meeting
Wednesday, January 23rd, at 7 p.m.
Society Headquarters, 48 Court Street, Bristol

The BH&PS HOUSE TOUR 2019 is being co-chaired by BH&PS Board Members, Dodie Tschirch and Theresa Woodmansee.  We are looking for lots and lots of people to help!  There are little jobs and there are bigger jobs and we need volunteers in every aspect of the tour.

It's fun, it's interesting.  Generally we anticipate one meeting per month up until August when, depending upon your role, there may be additional meetings.

If you are interested in volunteering to make this HOUSE TOUR 2019 a huge success,
 please come to our first HOUSE TOUR COMMITTEE MEETING on
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23rd-- 7 p.m. --  at Society Headquarters, 48 Court Street, Bristol.         If you cannot make this meeting but would like to volunteer, please email us at or call 401-253-7223.


Saturday, January 19th at 11 a.m.
(Registration required: details below.)

Sunday, January 27th at 12 noon

(Registration required: details and payment information below)

Saturday, January 19th at 11 a.m.
Tour Guide:  Rei Battcher, BH&PS Librarian and Historian

Participants must reserve a spot by calling the Society at 253-7223 or emailing  In case of inclement weather, the tour will be rescheduled for February, date and time TBD, and registered participants will be notified.  The tour costs $10 or $5 for members of the BH&PS and the Bristol Art Museum and will leave from the Society at 48 Court Street. 

Bristol's unique and rich African-American history is about far more than slavery. In the 19th century, Bristol was home to many economically-successful African-Americans who actively shaped life in Bristol.  The town also included its own neighborhood of homes that blended African and American building traditions.  In addition to sites associated with the slave trade, this tour will visit houses belonging to free African-Americans, including the Carrington Palmer Munroe House and the Marie Hazzard House, to learn the stories of these significant community members.  The tour will also include the sites of Bristol's African Church and the New Goree Community, both of which served free African-Americans prior to the Civil War.  

The tour is being offered in conjunction with the Bristol Art Museum's exhibit, Do Lord Remember Me: The Black Church in Rhode Island, which is on display between January 17 and January 27 at the Museum at 10 Wardwell St. The exhibit includes an opening lecture on Thursday, January 17, at 6:30 p.m. and a performance and viewing on Friday, January 18, from 6-8 p.m.  

Sunday, January 27, 2019, at 12 noon

"The Past is Present: An Archaeological Glimpse into Bristol's 18th and 19th Century Rum Distilleries"
Guest Speaker: Suzanne Cherau, Senior Archaeologist at the Public Archaeology Lab. Inc.

$40 per person -- By Reservation Only
S.S. Dion Restaurant, Thames Street 

Reserve and pay by PayPal below
or call/email the Society at 401-253-7223/

In 2008, Suzanne Cherau identified the archaeological remains of an early nineteenth-century rum distillery on Thames Street in Bristol, Rhode Island.  The distillery was one of five that operated in Bristol during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.  These five together with over 30 rum distilleries in Newport and numerous distilleries in Providence, the state of Rhode Island produced up to 90 percent of the rum consumed in the eastern United States and shipped to Africa as part of the Triangle Trade.  The largest and most infamous rum distillery in Bristol was operated by the renowned DeWolf Family, many of whom became privateers in the nineteenth-century Triangle Trade.  The remains of their distillery were found during construction of a hotel and shops along the Thames Street waterfront in 2002. Later in 2007 and 2008, more wooden vats were found which deed research revealed to be owned by a group of Bristol merchants, headed up by a "distiller" named Jarvis Pierce.  Only a few rum distillery sites have survived and been studied archaeologically in the northeastern United States, including the Henley Distillery in Charlestown, Massachusetts and the Douw-Quackenbush Distillery in Albany, New York. 

Come hear the full story of the discovery and examination of these wooden vats which were uncovered in 2007 and the history 
accompanying them.  The luncheon will begin at 12 noon to be followed by Suzanne Cherau's talk

The luncheon is a full meal from soup to dessert.  Select from 1) Chicken Piccata,           2) Baked Fish with Bread Crumbs, 3) Pork Tenderloin with Brown Gravy, or                 4) Vegetarian Eggplant Parmigiana.  $40 per person. Cash bar is also available.


Chicken Piccata:

Baked Fish with Bread Crumbs:

Pork Tenderloin with Brown Gravy:

Eggplant Parmigiana - Vegetarian:


Next Regular Meeting: February 2, 2019, at 9 a.m.

Society Headquarters

Bring your research and share your story about how you are "stuck" on a particular ancestor and let the Genie Club offer suggestions.

The Club meets regularly on the 1st Saturday of the month except for July and August. If the Saturday falls on a holiday weekend, the group will meet the following Saturday.
Open To All - Just Walk In and Join the Group
send an email to: 
and request to be added to the Genealogy Club Mailing List for notices about upcoming meetings, general genealogical events throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and other information shared between members.

                   Individual Review of Research Problems

We have a very lively group and we devote a portion of each meeting to our "brick wall roundtable" to help members with their individual research problems.  The idea is for members to present their latest "brick wall" so others can help decide what to do next.  The purpose of this short session is not to review an entire family history nor is it to actually solve the entire brick wall but is instead to give ideas on HOW to solve it.


As of December 2015, Fire, Burglar and Security systems at the BHPS are fully installed due to the receipt of a generous $15,000 matching grant from The 1772 Foundation.  The BHPS has motion alarms and security cameras throughout the building, has a secured entry alarm system and a fire alarm system that is directly linked to the Town of Bristol Fire Department.  As part of its 2015 Matching Grants for Historic Preservation made available to organizations in Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island, The 1772 Foundation Grant has enabled the Society to protect its unique research library, its extensive paper document room, the significant portrait collection, and all of the other artifacts throughout the building.

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