Archived Lectures

Inside The Gem of the Ocean
Chris Rawson, Professor Emeritus of English at University of Pittsburgh, Theater Critic, and LCHS Board Member

Chris Rawson is a several-generation Little Compton summer resident. During the work year he lives in Pittsburgh, PA as an English professor at the University of Pittsburgh and theater critic at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. As the latter, he covered the career of the great playwright August Wilson (1945-2005), the two men becoming friends. Mr. Wilson’s 10-play American Century Cycle is set in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, and his remarkable Gem of the Ocean is now playing at Trinity Rep in Providence, through March 27. Chris will talk about this great playwright and this play, with pictures and time for questions.

Video coming soon.


Rural New England Women: Coastal RI and Inland MA
Dr. Marla Miller, Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst

One might expect that Hadley, MA and Little Compton, RI were very similar as rural farming communities in New England, yet each community had its own nuances. Dr. Marla Miller, Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, has conducted extensive research on the role of women in Hadley’s history. She joins Everyone Was a Farmer co-curators Professor Steven Lubar and Marjory O’Toole to discuss women’s roles and experiences in each community, and what evidence we have to support those conclusions.

Genealogy from Home: Making the Most of Online Sources
Marian Pierre-Louis, Online Education Producer at Legacy Family Tree Webinars


Now more than ever it’s important to take advantage of using online sources for genealogy research. You’ll learn the best tips for making the most of your online research on a variety of websites. Appropriate for all levels of family historians.

A Tale of Two Portraits
Marjory O’Toole, LCHS Executive Director

This summer descendants of Little Compton’s Rev. Mase Shepard and his wife Deborah Haskins Shepard donated two portraits they believed to be the minister and his wife. But it wasn’t so. Join Marjory as she leads us step-by-step through the discovery process that revealed the true identity of the couple in the portraits and the lessons we learned about the Shepard family.

Foodways of 18th-Century Rhode Island
Eleanor Langham, Site Director at Coggeshall Farm

Explore unique and exciting foodways of 18th-century Rhode Island. Learn how the seasons, local economy, and weather impacted diets and why historic food was far from bland and boring. We will look at historic recipes and techniques, with a focus on some local favorites that are still popular today.

Recording not available.

The Rhode to Suffrage: The Expansion of Voting Rights in Rhode Island
Jenna Peterson-Magnuski, LCHS Museum Educator

Each state in the new United States established its own rules for who could vote. When people sought the right to vote, some tried to change state laws and constitutions and others looked for national changes. Rhode Island initially allowed only freeholders (men owning a significant amount of land) and their eldest sons to vote. The trip to today’s voting rights was anything but straightforward. Museum Educator Jenna Peterson-Magnuski will share key figures, including Little Compton residents, and events along that journey.

Evangeline Wilbour Blashfield, A Life Remembered: Scholar, Author, Activist, Muse
P. Scott Brown, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Medieval Art History at the University of North Florida

Little Compton summer resident Evangeline Wilbour Blashfield had a fascinating family, including her famous/infamous father, the Boss Tweed crony and Egyptologist; her mother, the well-known suffragist; and her husband, Edwin, the celebrated painter. But Evangeline herself has been nearly forgotten, though artists and intellectuals on two continents remembered her on her death in 1918 as “the most learned woman” alive. It is all the more ironic that she has been forgotten, since she was a pioneer of women’s history, whose most important work was misappropriated by another, now-famous woman. Evangeline Wilbour Blashfield is well worth remembering, for her brilliant writing on women and art and for her profound influence on her husband’s art and on the ideals of public beauty and aesthetic access in America.

“There’s nothing of their house but the ruined foundation”: History and Archaeology at the Manton Farm Property
Holly Herbster, Senior Archaeologist and Principal Investigator at The Public Archaeology Laboratory

The Public Archaeology Laboratory, Inc. (PAL) teamed with LCHS and community volunteers to document the history of the Manton Farm on Mullin Hill Road. Henry Manton was a Black man who came to Little Compton as a boy in the 1860s; his wife Dora Johnson’s African American and Native American family was from Dartmouth. At numerous times during three generations of ownership, the Manton family was the only family of color in Little Compton. Join PAL Senior Archaeologist Holly Herbster and LCHS’s Executive Director Marjory O’Toole as they share the history of the Manton Family and the results of the 2019 archaeological investigations.

Introducing the Big Barn Project
Marjory O’Toole, LCHS Executive Director

Hear about the Historical Society’s first permanent exhibition project in over 40 years. Executive Director Marjory O’Toole will share our plans for a major permanent exhibition on farming from the time of the Sakonnet People to the present day. See before and after photos of our 19th-century dairy barn as we reimagine it from an underappreciated storage building and create a vibrant new museum space. Learn how you and other community members can help by sharing farming photos, stories, and artifacts with us.

Beyond Salem 1692: Witchcraft in the Seventeenth-Century
Dr. Charlotte Carrington-Farmer, Associate Professor of History at Roger Williams University

Between 1450 and 1750, at least 100,000 individuals, mostly women, were accused of witchcraft in Europe and North America. Of these, roughly half met their demise at the stake or in the noose. The lecture will address how and why magic and witchcraft made sense to early modern people and what it meant when someone was accused of making a pact with the Devil. By setting the Salem trials of 1692 in context, the lecture will consider the nature of witch-hunts more broadly and the social, religious, judicial, and political causes.

They Knew They Were Pilgrims: Plymouth Colony and the Contest for American Liberty
John G. Turner, Professor of Religious Studies, George Mason University

Drawing on original research using underutilized sources, Dr. Turner moves beyond familiar narratives in his new history of Plymouth Colony published for the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s Landing. His work focuses on the ways English settlers and Native peoples engaged in a contest for the meaning of American liberty.

Quaker Women in Colonial New England
Elizabeth Cazden, Independent Quaker Scholar

Explore the lives of Quaker women in Colonial New England and the roles they played within the Society of Friends. Ms. Cazden will use her intensive research as a path to understanding the rights and responsibilities of local Quaker women.

The Women of the West Road—Activists & Advocates
Janet Lisle, Author of The History of Little Compton

Author and local historian Janet Lisle will detail the lives of a close-knit group of 19th-century women living at the corner of West Main and Swamp Roads, who, despite their youth, led Little Compton’s abolition efforts in the century’s early decades.

Slavery & Freedom in Little Compton
Marjory O’Toole, Executive Director, LCHS

Explore the history of Northern slavery and emancipation through the personal stories of people enslaved in Little Compton and the surrounding communities. Special attention will be paid to the histories of enslaved women and girls.

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Nevertheless, She Persisted: Exploring 17th-Century Women for a 21st-Century World 
Hilary Goodnow, Director for Education & Outreach, Plimoth Plantation

What does it really mean to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes? Explore the lives of 17th-century women through the eyes of Mayflower passenger Elizabeth Tilley Howland and discuss how living history provides new insight into their joys, sorrows, and challenges. 

Link:  https://vimeo.com/451232853/b04835338f  

Little Compton’s 17th- 18th- & 19th-Century Women
Marjory O’Toole, LCHS Executive Director

From sachems to epidemic survivors to suffragists, the early women of Little Compton led lives that we are only just beginning to understand. Learn more about these fascinating individuals and their growing community with video recordings of three previous lectures.

Women’s History Project – Virtual Indoor Exhibit Tour

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