Month: June 2021

Matilda Sissieretta (Joyner) Jones

Matilda Sissieretta (Joyner) Jones, an internationally acclaimed black opera singer, was born in Portsmouth, Virginia on January 5, 1868, the daughter of Jeremeah Joyner, a former slave and a minister, and Henrietta Beale Joyner, a homemaker, washerwoman, and singer in her church choir.  The couple had three children, but only Sissieretta survived childhood. At the

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Mike Lyons

Mike is working in his 10th season of professional baseball.  It is his first year, in this the inaugural season of the Worcester Red Sox following 9 seasons with the Pawtucket Red Sox.  Mike joined the Paw Sox following a 40+ year sports broadcasting and sports marketing career.  He is a Chicago native who was

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Albert R. Beauparlant

Albert R. Beauparlant is a self-employed real estate developer. He has invested in numerous properties and projects over the last 35+ years and is also involved in the construction aspect of restoring properties. Albert has served on the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors for 20 years and is currently the Vice

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ROSEANNA S. GORHAM

Roseanna S. Gorham has served on civic boards and commissions including the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route US Board (W3R-RI Chair); the RI 1663 Colonial Charter Commission; and, currently, the RI State House Restoration Society and the Heritage Hall of Fame. As US Board member of the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route, she worked in collaboration with

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JANE F. HOWLETT

Jane F. Howlett of Bristol, Rhode Island is an attorney engaged in the practice of law with an emphasis on Domestic Relations and Probate Law.  She is a 1983 graduate of Providence College and a 1986 University of Bridgeport School of Law, Bridgeport, Connecticut.  She is married to Jeffrey R. Howlett, a retired Commander in

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Daniel Harrington

Daniel Harrington is a self-described recovering politician who served on the East Providence Zoning Board of Review and East Providence City Council where he helped establish the East Providence Waterfront Commission.  An avid student of history, Mr. Harrington is a popular monthly columnist for the Providence Journal where he has published over 100 consecutive pieces

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David T. Shwaery

Biography of David T. Shwaery, owner of Squires Services Ltd., a salon/spa, S & H Distributors, Euclid Properties and FieldBrook Properties, student housing and medical offices. Born in Pawtucket, RI in 1938.  In his early youth he became a decorated Boy Scout, Sunday School teacher, treasurer of the Sunday School, President of the Youth Group,

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Robin M. Tagliaferri

Robin is a non-profit administrator, project manager, museum educator and visual artist with 25 years’ experience working in museums, arts organizations, and educational institutions. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Robin earned a Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) and a Master of Arts (MA) in Museum Studies and Art Education. Robin’s research

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN – THREE STRIKES FOR STATE HISTORY AND HERITAGE

            The following essay, published in the Providence Journal in 2017, was yet another futile attempt to gain state support for our state’s history. I feel like the man who keeps banging his head against the wall because it feels so good when he stops. **************************             Rhode Island’s government does not support the observance

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CHAPTER FIFTEEN – TAKING DOWN THE INDEPENDENT MAN

            In 2016 and 2017, a temporary craze swept the nation that advocated the destruction of statutes, monuments, and memorials that had been erected to honor an array of nationally prominent white males. Most of the mayhem was directed against those involved either with slavery or with the admittedly disgraceful treatment of Native Americans. The

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CHAPTER FOURTEEN – SQUANDERING RHODE ISLAND’S MARITIME HERITAGE

            Like the preceding essay, this January, 2018 Providence Journal commentary has a similar theme. It is a lament for the loss of the Sloop Providence–not to a storm or a shipwreck but to shortsightedness and stupidity and the failure of the state to intervene to save its designated state flagship—a vessel that graces the

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SAVE OUR MILLS

            It is more than tragic that less than four years after I published the following essay as a Providence Journal commentary extolling the virtues of Rhode Island’s industrial landscape, the bungling administration of Governor Donald Carcieri persuaded a supine General Assembly to curtail the state historic tax credit program.  Our leaders perpetrated this shortsighted

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Rhode Island’s Lost Ships

This essay appeared as a Providence Journal commentary on August 9, 2008, in the midst of another summer season during which the Sloop Providence rested in a restricted private shipyard rather than on my dock for the public to view and visit.  The Providence Maritime Heritage Foundation (on which I once held the vice presidency)

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RHODE ISLAND’S IRISH FAMINE MEMORIAL: A TRIBUTE TO THE SURVIVORS

            In the autumn of 1995 Anne Burns arranged for a memorial Mass to be celebrated at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in remembrance of the million or more Irish who died in the Great Famine, a calamity that began 150 years earlier in 1845.  Over one thousand people attended this sesquicentennial event. 

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CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR – HERITAGE HARBOR: PAST and FUTURE PLANS

            My long-time friend and historical colleague Albert T. Klyberg and I collaborated in writing the following synopsis of our 40-year effort to promote the teaching and study of Rhode Island history from my creation of the Ethnic Heritage subcommittees of the state bicentennial commission (ri76) and the short-lived  Rhode Island Heritage Commission, through Al’s

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN – LABORATORY FOR THE LIVELY EXPERIMENT

            The year 2013 marked the 350th anniversary of Rhode Island’s Royal Charter of 1663.  Governor Lincoln Chafee took the initiative in appointing a 35-member 1663 Colonial Charter Commission that sponsored several commemorative initiatives, most notably the creation of a beautifully appointed, climate controlled Charter Room on the first floor of the State House.            

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CHAPTER THREE – JULY 19, THE REAL RHODE ISLAND INDEPENDENCE DAY

            From 1974 to mid-1977 when I served as volunteer chairman of the Rhode Island commission to celebrate American independence (ri76), one thorny issue involved the correction of the long-held belief that Rhode Island declared its independence from England on May 4, 1776.  Glen LaFantasie, my director of publications, refuted this hyperbolic claim in a

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CHAPTER EIGHT – BRISTOL, BROWNELL, AND THE GASPEE

            In June 2019 I made a presidential discretionary grant of $2,000 from the Heritage Harbor Foundation to the Bristol Fourth of July committee for its 234th annual celebration. Along with the grant, I presented the committee with a suggestion that they join in the 250th anniversary of the burning of the British naval vessel,

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STATEHOOD: BRISTOL LED THE WAY!

            The highest civic honor that can be conferred upon a resident of Bristol is the position of chief marshal of the Fourth of July parade, an event first held in 1826.  The local observance of independence actually began much earlier.  It dates from 1785, entitling Bristol to claim that it stages the oldest consecutive

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Mary Francis “Fanny” Purdy Palmer

Fanny was an author, poet, and social activist. She was born in New York City on July 11, 1839 to Henry and Mary (Sharp) Purdy. Following the death of her father when she was only seven, she grew up in upstate New York. She attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Buffalo and graduated

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Sara M. Algeo

Sara Louise Algeo was born on June 13, 1876 in Cohasset MA, the fifth child to John and Sarah (Clemens) MacCormack. Following her education in the Cohasset public schools she attended and graduated from Boston University. Upon graduation she came to Rhode Island in September 1899 to teach at Cranston High School. She would remain

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Bertha G. Higgins

Bertha was born in Danville, VA on November 18, 1872 to Horace and Barbara Dillard. She was married twice, first to Walker Thomas in 1887, but following his death in 1897, she married Dr. William Higgins. In 1903 the couple moved to Providence, Rhode Island where Dr. Higgins practiced medicine. Bertha was an accomplished dressmaker

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Maria Kindberg

Maria Kindberg is intertwined with the woman’s suffrage movement not only in Rhode Island but nationally because of her accomplishments during the early decades of the twentieth century. Maria Albertina Kindberg was born in Ryd near the town of Skövde, Sweden on October 12, 1860; she emigrated to the United States arriving on June 25,

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Ingeborg Kindstedt

The name of Ingeborg Kinstedt is associated with the woman’s suffrage movement not only in Rhode Island but nationally because of her accomplishments during the early decades of the twentieth century. Maria Ingeborg Kindstedt was born in Glava near the town of Karlstad, Sweden, on April 8, 1865; she arrived in the United States in

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Sophia R. Little

Sophia Little was born in Newport in 1799, the daughter of Asher Robbins. Her father was a prominent Rhode Island politician who served as U.S. Attorney General for Rhode Island and then in the state legislature before serving as U.S. Senator from 1825 to 1839. Not much is known about Sophia’s early education other than

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Anna W. Spencer

Anna’s life is somewhat of a mystery, but her accomplishments are significant in the history of social reform, especially that for women’s equality and suffrage. In 1852 she began the publication in Providence of the newspaper The Pioneer and Woman’s Advocate; the newspaper’s motto was “Liberty, Truth, Equality, Temperance.” Anna’s newspaper is significant since it

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Roberta J. Dunbar

Roberta Dunbar was born in Narragansett, Rhode Island on July 10, 1868 to John and Louisa Cartwright Dunbar. By 1870 the family was living in Providence and Roberta attended the English High school. She worked in a number of professions including dressmaker, masseuse and hairdresser but her work of note was as an activist dedicated

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