Visit the NMAAHC with Us in January

Join the Little Compton Historical Society as we explore the new

Sdownloadmithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture

Washington, DC  —  January 8-10, 2017

Our newest board member, Professor Steven Lubar of Brown University, a former Smithsonian curator, has arranged special tours for us which are not available to the general public. Enjoy custom tours of the:

¨ National Museum of African American History & Culture

¨ National Museum of the American Indian

¨ National Museum of American History

Join Steve and LCHS Director Marjory O’Toole on this trip designed especially for museum lovers. All tours are optional, and you may explore the Smithsonian’s other museums or the city’s attractions on your own instead if you choose. You may also explore DC’s fabulous options for meals on your own or join Steve or Marjory at restaurants they have pre-selected.

Cost Includes:

¨  Roundtrip airfare from Providence.

¨ Guided motorcoach transportation from Ronald Regan Airport to Mount Vernon to hotel on Day 1 and back to airport on Day 3.

¨ Two nights stay Hilton Garden Inn, Washington DC, Downtown. 1 minute walk to Metro and 20 minutes to National Mall.

¨ Two hot breakfasts.

¨ Day 1—Tour of Mount Vernon with lunch in its tavern-style restaurant.

¨ Day 1 & 3—Guided motorcoach transportation to a number of national monuments including the Martin Luther King Memorial.

¨ Day 2 & 3—Customized tours of three Smithsonian museums.

¨ Day 3—Tour of the Library of Congress.



¨ Transportation to and from the LC Historical Society and the airport. Cars may be left at LCHS.

¨ Travel Insurance.


Cost:  $865 Double Occupancy

¨ $200 Deposit Due by October 10

¨ Refundable only if LCHS cancels trip due to lack of interest

¨ Non-refundable if trip proceeds

Historian Linford Fisher to Speak

Version 4

Slavery and Freedom Series

September 27, at 7 PM 

United Congregational Church 

Professor Linford Fisher

“New England Slavery in an Atlantic World”

Free and Open to the Public – Sponsored by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities

As part of a year-long project honoring the 200th anniversary of the end of slavery in Little Compton, the Little Compton Historical Society is hosting a speakers’ series featuring authors and historians with expertise on slavery and freedom in New England. The series is made possible by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities and will run through February, 2017. Each event is free and open to the public.

The Historical Society is pleased to welcome Linford Fisher as its next speaker on Tuesday, September 27, at 7 PM at the United Congregational Church on the Commons.  Dr. Fisher, Associate Professor of History at Brown University, writes and teaches on religion, Native Americans, and slavery in colonial America. During his talk he will help place slavery in Little Compton and the surrounding areas into the context of the wider Atlantic World.

Dr. Fisher is the author of The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America (Oxford, 2012) and the co-author of Decoding Roger Williams: The Lost Essay of Rhode Island’s Founding Father (Baylor, 2014), with J. Stanley Lemons and Lucas Mason-Brown. These books will be available for purchase before and after his talk and are now available for borrowing at the Brownell Library in Little Compton. Dr. Fisher is currently working on a book-length project on Indian and African enslavement in colonial New England and several select English Atlantic islands, including Bermuda, Barbados, and Jamaica. His course at Brown University entitled “Enslaved, Slavery in the Atlantic World” inspired the Historical Society’s Director, Marjory O’Toole, to begin her research on local slavery, indenture and freedom and prompted the Historical Society to explore the topic throughout the year with a book, a special exhibition, school programs and this speakers’ series.

The next two talks in the series are:

On Friday, October 21 at 1 PM, at the Little Compton Historical Society, Kevin Ryan, President and CEO of Covenant House International will speak on the persistence of slavery today in the United States and across the globe in the form of human trafficking especially as it pertains to the young people seeking help from Covenant House shelters in the United States and abroad.

On Wednesday, November 2 at the United Congregational Church on the Little Compton, Commons at 7 PM, Keith Stokes will present “American Irony—Slavery & Religious Freedom in Colonial Newport.” Mr. Stokes is the co-founder of the 1696 Heritage Group.



LCHS Annual Meeting

Stories of Enslavement, Indenture and Freedom in Little Compton

Speaker:  Marjory Gomez O’Toole

  • Wednesday, August 10, 2016
  • United Congregational ChurchMarjory O'Toole 2016 by Chris O'Toole
  • 7:00 PM      Business Meeting
  • 7:15 PM       Speaker  
  • 8:00 PM     Refreshments, Book Sales, Author Signing
  • Please Note: The memorial dedication originally planned for 6:30 PM in the cemetery has been postponed because of a delay with the monument.  

Marjory O’Toole, Little Compton Historical Society Managing Director, will share the personal stories of some of Little Compton’s 250 enslaved and forcibly indentured people during her talk at the organization’s Annual Meeting.  The event is free and open to the public and will be held on Wednesday, August 10 at 7 PM at the United Congregational Church on the Little Compton Commons. Members of the Historical Society are especially encouraged to attend to vote on the organization’s board members and officers. A brief business meeting will take place from 7 to 7:15, followed by Ms. O’Toole’s talk. The evening will conclude with refreshments and a book-signing.

Ms. O’Toole has been the Managing Director of the Historical Society for over a decade. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Humanities at Brown University. For the last three years she has been conducting primary source research that sheds light on the lives of Little Compton’s enslaved and forcibly indentured men, women and children who lived and worked in the community from 1674 to 1816.

This summer, and specifically August 5, 2016, marks the 200th anniversary of the end of slavery in Little Compton. Kate Hilliard, the last person known to be enslaved in Little Compton, gained her freedom on August 5, 1816 when her owner, David Hilliard’s will, was approved in the local probate court. David granted Kate her freedom in his will and directed his grandson to care for her in her old age. Kate was enslaved by the Hilliard family throughout her life and worked in their tavern and the poor house that they ran. She married an enslaved man named Prince Grinnell and together they had at least two children.

The Historical Society is celebrating the end of slavery in Little Compton by honoring the lives of enslaved people like Kate Hilliard. Their stories were lost from our local history for over two hundred years and have only recently been rediscovered through the Historical Society and Ms. O’Toole’s efforts. This July the Society published Ms. O’Toole’s book entitled “If Jane Should Want to Be Sold, Stories of Enslavement Indenture and Freedom in Little Compton, Rhode Island” and opened a special exhibit by the same title. The book is now available at the Historical Society’s museum shop and Wilbur’s General Store, Earle’s Gas Station, Gray’s Daily Grind and Partner’s Village Store as well as It is also available for loan at the Brownell Library and other libraries throughout the state.

Reservations are not required for the annual meeting.  Directions and more information is available by calling 401-635-4035.


Ray Rickman to Speak on Racism and its Roots in Slavery

Picture of Ray

The Little Compton Historical Society and The Brownell Library are pleased to welcome Ray Rickman to Little Compton to speak on “Racism and its Roots in Slavery” at 6 PM, Wednesday, August 3, 2016. The event is free and open to the public and will take place in the tent behind the Brownell Library. Refreshments will be served thanks to a generous “Friend of the Brownell Library.”

Ray Rickman is a long-time advocate for equality and justice in Rhode Island and is considered a leader in the promotion of African American history and culture. He resided in Little Compton every September for eleven years from 2000 to 2011.

Mr.  Rickman has been a prominent figure in Rhode Island politics and culture since he came to this state over three decades ago.   He is a former State Representative from College Hill in Providence and served as Deputy Secretary of State from 2000 to 2002. Mr. Rickman is also a rare book dealer and conducts general and African American cultural tours of the College Hill neighborhood. He is a former president of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society and was secretary of the Rhode Island Historical Society for seven years. He was also the first treasurer of the Heritage Harbor Museum and is a member of the Rhode Island 1663 Colonial Charter Commission. He and the late Posey Wiggins co-taught a class using the 1883 William J. Brown autobiography as a tool to teach about racial and cultural issues in 19th-century Rhode Island.  In the 1970s, Rickman served as Chief of Staff for United States Congressman John Conyers, Jr. During his tenure working for the Congressman, Ray worked next to Rosa Parks.

Ray currently serves as the president of the Rickman Group, a consulting firm that helps nonprofit organizations and other small businesses with development and fundraising and as the executive director of Stages of Freedom, a non-profit organization that produces and promotes Black cultural events to raise funds for their programs that engage and empower youth of color in Rhode Island.

Among Stages of Freedoms’ programming is Swim Empowerment, which raises funds to provide swimming lessons to youth of color and to increase the state’s awareness of the history of exclusion of African Americans from public pools and the resulting disparity in drowning related injuries and death that disproportionately afflict communities of color.

This talk is a collaboration between the Brownell Library and the Little Compton Historical Society and is part of a year-long project honoring the 200th anniversary of the end of slavery in Little Compton. The Historical Society will be hosting other speakers is a series featuring authors and historians with expertise on slavery and freedom in New England. The series is made possible by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities and will run through February 2017. Each event is free and open to the public.





Author Joanne Pope Melish to Speak on Slavery, Freedom & Race this Tuesday

IMG_8966[1] (1)

Joanne Pope Melish, a nationally-recognized authority on gradual emancipation in New England, will begin the Little Compton Historical Society’s Slavery and Freedom Speakers’ Series on Tuesday, July 19 at 7 PM at the United Congregational Church on the Commons. Dr. Melish has entitled her talk The Worm in the Apple: Slavery, Emancipation, and Race in Rhode Island. She will discuss, among other topics, the amnesia that New England developed concerning its history of slave-holding and the emergence of racism as a means of control once slavery ended in the North.

Dr. Melish is well-known as the author of “Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and “Race” in New England, 1780-1860” (Cornell University Press) a book that has been frequently used and discussed in university classrooms across the country since its publication in 1998. Dr. Melish is Associate Professor of History Emerita at the University 28538809._UY200_of Kentucky, where she also directed the American Studies Program for several years. Dr. Melish received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in American Civilization from Brown University and now resides in Rhode Island. In addition to Disowning Slavery, she has authored many essays on race and slavery in the early republic and on slavery in public history. Currently she is working on a book-length project tentatively entitled “Gradual Alienation: How a Multiracial Laboring Class Formed, Persisted, and Became Invisible in the Post-Revolutionary North.”

The Historical Society’s Slavery and Freedom Speakers’ Series is generously sponsored by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities. The talks are free and open to the public.  Reservations are not required.