The archive: Some presentations have been recorded for you to view.
February 8, 2023 The Westerly Historical Society welcomed Larry Hunter on February 8th to talk about his work with the Rhode Island Advisory Commission on Historic Cemeteries. Speaking before an audience of some thirty-seven attendees, Larry described the process to become a commissioner of the RIACHC and the many responsibilities the volunteer position entails. The group also learned a bit of history regarding New England burial customs, and heard a few anecdotes about the various searches and restorations in which he has been involved.
November 9, 2022 Courtney McInvale Reardon provided an interesting presentation on the history of the “Haunted Legends and Lore of Westerly.” Her presentation included a discussion of the many legends and lore of unusual and unexplained occurrences that have occurred in Westerly, many of which have been documented in Frederic Denison’s 1878 book, Westerly and Its Witnesses.
October 12, 2022 “The History of Education in Westerly” This presentation included a discussion of the history of education in Westerly and described in detail what it was like to be a student in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Speaker Jane C. Perkins taught first grade in Westerly before becoming the Lower School Principal at Claiborne Pell Elementary School in Newport. She later returned to Westerly to work as a math interventionist in the Westerly school system and serves as a Professor of Education at the University of Rhode Island.
September 14, 2022 “Regional History Fair” This public event showcased the numerous historical societies and museums in the region and provided a unique opportunity for the public to meet and greet members of these various organizations while learning about membership opportunities and viewing some of their favorite treasured artifacts.
May 2022: Our May program was “The Westerly Jewelry Fire” presented by Joseph Fusaro. This presentation included a discussion of the 1975 fire which destroyed 64 High Street and the Westerly Jewelry Company’s former location.
April 2022: Our March program was “Digging Up The Past” by Matthew Hayden. This presentation included a discussion and display of the many historical items found locally by a police detective who enjoys treasure hunting with a metal detector.
March 2022: Our March program was a discussion and demonstration of the typical gear worn and used by a Civil War soldier as well as a review of a typical soldier’s food, medical care, working conditions, unit marching procedures, and unit battle formations by Robert Boucher. Watch the video.
October 2021: Our October program was a book overview by author and historian, Marty Podskoch, The Rhode Island 39 Club, that encourages people to visit all 39 towns and villages in the RI. Watch the video.
April 2021: Mid-Atlantic Air Museum. Our April program is a virtual visit to a terrific museum in Reading, PA. This museum covers all air travel & flight. Enter here! Scroll to the bottom of each page to follow the tour. Enjoy!
More links: The P-61 Restoration project: http://www.maam.org/p61.html
Shop at the museum’s online store (A terrific book selection! Categories on the left column): http://www.maam.org/php/xcart/home.php
March 2021: Beginning your Genealogy – find your roots. We are going to research our family tree! link to the March Program
February 2021: a virtual visit to The New England Wireless & Steam Museum, East Greenwich, RI [Link to the February Program]
January 2021: Film: Life of a Dairyman, Connecticut Dairy Farms, with an introduction by the filmmaker, Markham Starr [Link to January program]
Link to more from Markham Starr, his photos, books, videos: https://www.markhamstarrphotography.com/
November 10th, 2019: “Old Music from Rhode Island”, a concert by The Vox Hunters. For links to their captivating music and to purchase their Songbook plus CDs, please visit: https://thevoxhunters.com/home
April 28, 2019: “Point Jude: Portraits From a Fishing Port” (Documentary Film). This documentary film by Markham Starr follows eight people through a typical day as they work both on the water harvesting seafood and on shore in support of the fishing industry. Mr. Starr spoke about the making of the film and took questions at its conclusion. Link to the complete film: https://vimeo.com/302464103
March 31st, 2019 125 Years of Westerly Library and Wilcox Park. Book authors include Maria Bernier, Brigitte Hopkins, Alan Peck, and Bob Benson. Watch the video.
February 24th, 2019. Blue and White: The History of Basketball at Westerly High School, by Zachary Garceau, historian and the Westerly Historical Society’s archivist. Watch the video.
October 28, 2018: Recent Happenings at the Watch Hill Lighthouse Museum. By Ann Johnson. Watch the video.
September 16, 2018: Life in the 18th Century, New London and the surrounding area. By Patricia Schaefer. New London was a growing, bustling seaport in the 18th century. We explored how people spent their time, what was important to them, and why life in “the good old days” was anything but simple. Watch the video.
April 15, 2018: Westerly, Pawcatuck & the River that Changed the Landscape. Rebecca Nolan. This talk explored the history of development and manufacturing along the Pawcatuck River and its mill villages. Watch the video.
February 18, 2018: Pamela Scott, WHS program director, spoke about the William Clark Company Thread Mill: An Interesting History. Watch the video.
November 12, 2017: Zachary Garceau, researcher at the New England Historical Genealogical Society, and our Society’s new Archivist will speak about the Westerly Historical Society, its collections, and future plans. Watch the video.
September 24, 2017: Ann L. Smith, editor of Westerly’s Witness discussed the types of materials and methods used in developing information for historical research pieces. Watch the video.
April 2, 2017: Elizabeth D. Warburton, from the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission, spoke on the National Register of Historic Places. Watch the video.
October 2106. Robert Degoursey from the Westerly Pawcatuck Region of the Antique Automobiles Club of America spoke about classic car restoration and their history. The classic cars were parked at the Babcock Smith House for this event. Click here to see photos taken at this event.
October 2015: Ann Smith spoke about Steamboats of the Pawcatuck River. Watch the video
A few fun Rhode Island history links to read & explore:
Smallstatebighistory.com: new articles on RI history to read each week, links to books to expand your library, and more!
Rhode Island Historical Society: https://www.rihs.org/
Westerly Public Library, online info: https://westerlylibrary.org/all-databases
URI special collections https://webarchives.apps.uri.edu/special_collections/index.html
RI Historic Cemeteries Database: http://rihistoriccemeteries.org/webdatabase.aspx
Veterans, burial search: http://rihistoriccemeteries.org/webdatabase.aspx