Welcome to learning more about the history of Bristol, Rhode Island. There are many ways to learn, including reading some of the books written about our town, participating in our historic walking tours, attending lectures/and talks (on Zoom right now), reading sections of our website, joining our annual summer book club, and attending our rotating exhibits, online for now. We have a reading list to learn about slavery in the north, see the pdf below.
Because of COVID-19, we have been making good use of Zoom for our meetings. During this summer of 2020, we have created a series about the history of slavery in Bristol and in Rhode Island, beginning with conversations with historians and authors. Go to our EVENTS CALENDAR to see the upcoming scheduled conversations.
Back in 2006, the Providence Journal published a series of 15 articles about the history of slavery in Rhode Island, researched and written by journalist Paul Davis. Collectively the stories were titled "Unrighteous Traffick". The Journal has now put them online for all Rhode Islanders to read. Davis was a reporter for the Journal and, as he recently wrote, he treated his extensive research about slavery in Rhode Island as he would for a current news story.
The link to the 15-part "Unrighteous Traffick" series is at:
The Society has a non-lending library and we welcome visitors, although right now due to COVID-19, we have not opened up fully. Our historians are available to answer your questions, or to do a "look up" for you, or even to help you with your research. We are also open for individual researchers on Thursdays and Fridays, from 1 to 4 pm BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.
Visit our RESEARCH & REPRODUCTION page for details and costs about in-person and remote research at the BH&PS. Note that BH&PS members may read books on site or do research in the non-lending library for free.
Don't be shy....just call us at 401-253-7223 or email at email@example.com.
We have also started to create reading lists, the first of which is about slavery in the United States, and some of the book selections are very specific to Bristol. See reading list pdf below.
Rogers Free Library at 525 Hope Street also has books about Bristol in its historic room on the second floor. For hours and more information, go to https://rogersfreelibrary.org
Click on this WALKING TOUR tab to see the schedule of tours which run from May until October. We also have self-guided walking tours for you to download and print.
Also, if you click on PANDORA'S PAGE, you will be directed to a page originally created for the Society's HISTORY KIDS. Be sure to read the KIDS TALES FROM JAIL newsletters as well as Pandora's BLOG, for some very interesting "snippets" of Bristol's history.
We have a SUMMER HISTORY BOOK CLUB every summer where we read and discuss three books of interest. It's free, interesting, and fun. This year, it is all about the early days of food in the U.S.
Taverns and Drinking in Early America, by Sharon V. Salinger
At a time when drinking water supposedly endangered one’s health, colonists of every rank, age, race, and gender drank often and in quantity, and so taverns became arenas for political debate, business transactions, and small-town gossip sessions. Salinger explores the similarities and differences in the roles of drinking and tavern sociability in small towns, cities, and the countryside.
United Tastes: The Making of the First American Cookbook, by Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald
United Tastes explores multiple histories―of food, cookbooks, printing, material and literary culture, and region―to illuminate the meaning and affirm the importance of America's first cookbook, American Cookery, by Amelia Simmons. Stavely and Fitzgerald provide a detailed examination of the social circumstances and culinary tradition that produced this American classic.
No Useless Mouth: Waging War and Fighting Hunger in the American Revolution, by Rachel B. Hermann
In the era of the American Revolution, the rituals of diplomacy between the British, Patriots, and Native Americans featured gifts of food, ceremonial feasts, and a shared experience of hunger. When diplomacy failed, Native Americans could destroy food stores and cut off supply chains in order to assert authority. Black colonists also stole and destroyed food to ward off hunger and carve out tenuous spaces of freedom. Hunger was a means of power and a weapon of war.
Please reach out if you need assistance in acquiring copies of the books
The Bristol PHOENIX Newspapers are an additional and excellent online resource for for researching Bristol history and for genealogists tracing Bristol ancestors. Check out the DIGITAL ARCHIVE OF THE BRISTOL PHOENIX which is indexed back to 1833 and you may search by year or browse by keyword. Go to: http://bristol.advantage-preservation.com
LOST MAIN STREET, our most recent exhibit was shut down in March due to COVID-19. It was an interesting exhibit about the "lost" Mom and Pop business that were once so important to Bristol. For a quick look at some of the photos and other ephemera, click here.
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.
The Bristol Historical & Preservation Society is a 501(c)(3) Organization.
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