Inductees in Civil Rights / Abolitionists

  1. Margaret F. Ackroyd

    Inducted in 1972

    Margaret Ackroyd was a native Rhode Islander who served in the State Labor Department for thirty years before her retirement. She served as Chief in the Division of Women and Children and Commissioner of minimum wage.  She became known as the "architect of non-discriminatory employment standards for women".


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  2. Zachariah Allen

    Zachariah Allen (1795-1882)

    Inducted in 1973

    Zacharian Allen, 1795-1882, was a lawyer, inventor, and civic leader of the nineteenth century. One of his most notable inventions was the home hot-air furnace. He also originated the Providence Water Works and is credited with introducing the first vehicles to the Providence Fire Company. Allen was also instrumental in setting up the mutal fire insurance system in early America . Read more >

  3. Andrew J. Bell, Jr. (1907-2000)

    Inducted in 2007

    Andrew J. Bell, Jr. was born in Providence in September 1907, the son of Andrew J. and Beatrice J. Read more >

  4. Moses Brown

    Moses Brown (1738-1836)

    Inducted in 1999

    Moses Brown was a prominent Providence merchant, reformer, and philanthropist. He was one of the famous Brown brothers, a group that included John, Joseph, James, and Nicholas. He had a few years of formal schooling before becoming apprenticed to his wealthy uncle Obadiah to learn the intricacies of 18th century trade and commerce. He remained an influential businessman well into the 19th century. Read more >

  5. John Carter Brown (1797-1874)

    Inducted in 2012

    Born in 1797, the youngest of the three surviving children of Nicholas Brown II and Ann Carter, daughter of John Carter, the noted Providence printer, John Carter Brown was raised in a family tradition of public leadership and philanthropy. While at Brown University, he joined an undergraduate society to provide needy students with free books. 

    Upon graduation in 1816, John Carter Brown joined the family firm, Brown & Ives. Though lacking his forefathers' enthusiasm for business or politics, he cheerfully undertook his commercial responsibilities, especially after his older brother Nicholas III defiantly left the family firm to settle in New York. Read more >

  6. Arnold Buffum

    Arnold Buffum (1782-1859)

    Inducted in 2001

    Arnold Buffum  was one of Rhode Island’s leading abolitionists.  He was born and raised in a farmhouse near Union Village in present-day North Smithfield. His childhood home, called the William Buffum House for his Quaker father who built it, still stands at 383 Great Road.

    Despite his rural roots, Arnold Buffum became an entrepreneur whose main business was the manufacture and sale of hats in Providence, but he also patented some inventions pertaining to his trade and raised sheep on his father’s farm. Read more >

  7. Elizabeth Buffum Chace

    Elizabeth Buffum Chace (1806-1899)

    Inducted in 2002


    Elizabeth Buffum Chace, the first woman to be memorialized with a statue in the Rhode Island State House, was an antislavery activist and a pioneering advocate for women’s suffrage. The daughter of abolitionist leader Arnold Buffum, she married fellow Quaker Samuel Chace, a Fall River textile manufacturer. The Chaces had ten children; tragically the oldest five died of ilnesses before the second five were born.
    Chace first became publicly active in the cause of abolition in 1835 when she and two sisters helped to organize the Fall River Female Anti-Slavery Society, which was allied with the radical wing of the antislavery movement led by William Lloyd Garrison. Read more >
  8. Prudence Crandall

    Prudence Crandall (1803-1890)

    Inducted in 2001

    Prudence Crandall  was born in Hopkinton, Rhode Island, the daughter of Pardon Crandall, a Quaker farmer and Esther Carpenter, both of whom were descended from prominent old-line South County families.  When Prudence was ten she moved to a farm in nearby Canterbury, Connecticut, but returned to Rhode Island from 1825 to 1830 as a student at the New England Friends’ Boarding School (Moses Brown) in Providence.  She therefore, was both Rhode Island born and educated.

    In 1831, some leading citizens of Canterbury hired Crandall to organize a school for girls. Read more >

  9. Sarah Elizabeth Doyle

    Sarah Elizabeth Doyle (1830-1922)

    Inducted in 2005


    Doyle, Sarah Elizabeth, 1830-1922

    Sarah Elizabeth Doyle (1830-1922) was a  lifelong resident of Rhode Island who participated in the social reform ferment that engulfed the state during the Gilded Age. Despite the conservative political nature of local thinking, she successfully pioneered educational opportunities for women at the highest level.

    She entered Providence High School during its initial enrollment in 1843 and would later teach there from 1856 to 1892. During that time she helped nurture other women in the field of education while searching for institutional ways to solidify academic gains. Read more >

  10. Charles E. Gorman (1844-1917)

    Inducted in 2005


    Gorman, Charles Edmund, 1844-1917

    Charles E. Gorman was Rhode Island's foremost constitutional reformer of the late 19th century. He was born in Boston in 1844 to an Irish immigrant father for whom he was named and a Yankee mother, Sarah Woodbury, who traced her Massachusetts ancestry to the Cape Ann colony of the early 1620s.

    Gorman was three years old when his parents came to Providence. Read more >

  11. Thomas Robinson Hazard

    Thomas Robinson Hazard (1797-1886)

    Inducted in 2002


    Hazard, Thomas R. (Thomas Robinson), 1797-1886
    Thomas Robinson Hazard was a South Kingstown manufacturer, agriculturalist, author, and social reformer who embodied the egalitarian spirit of the pre-Civil War age of reform.
    Affectionately called “Shepard Tom” because of his prize sheep herd, Hazard was a seventh generation descendant of Thomas Hazard, the progenitor of the famous Hazard clan of Rhode Island and one of the nine founders of Newport. He was also the grandson of Thomas Hazard (1720-1798), an eighteenth-century South County Quaker abolitionist called “College Tom” because of his advanced study at Yale, and the older brother of Rowland Gibson Hazard (1801-1888), a noted Peace Dale woolen manufacturer, railroad promoter, and writer on philosophical subjects. Read more >
  12. Rowland Gibson Hazard (1801-1888)

    Inducted in 2003


    Hazard, Rowland Gibson, 1801-1888

    Rowland Gibson Hazard was born in South Kingstown, Rhode Island on October 9, 1801, the fourth of nine children of Rowland Hazard and Mary Peace of Charleston, South Carolina. In 1819, with his brother Isaac, he assumed control of his father's small woolen mill in the village of Peace Dale, which had been named for his mother's family. He had primary responsibility for marketing products to Southern plantation owners in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. Hazard wintered in New Orleans from about 1833 to 1842. Read more >

  13. Rev. Samuel Hopkins

    Rev. Samuel Hopkins (1721-1803)

    Inducted in 1999


    Hopkins, Samuel, 1721-1803

    Rev. Hopkins, of Newport, was a Congregational theologian and reformer. He was born in Waterbury, Connecticut into a successful farm family with the financial means to send young Samuel to Yale, from which he graduated in 1741. During his senior year at Yale, then operating under Congregational auspices, Hopkins became caught up in the religious revivalism that has come to be known as the Great Awakening. Read more >

  14. George S. Lima, Jr.

    George S. Lima, Jr. (1919-2011)

    Inducted in 2012

    George S. Lima, Jr., Lima, the son of immigrants from Cape Verde, spent his adolescent years in Harlem, Fall River, and Providence with his Cape Verdean family. His life changed dramatically when he enrolled at North Carolina A&T State University in 1939 on a football scholarship. Read more >

  15. John Carter Minkins

    John Carter Minkins (1869-1959)

    Inducted in 2013

    He was the first African American editor of a white newspaper. He was a renowned speaker and defender of human rights, attacking segregation and discrimination.

    John Carter Minkins came into this life on January 29, 1869 in Norfolk, Virginia. His mother died very young and he never met his white father. Read more >
  16. Catherine Robinson

    Inducted in 1975

    Catherine Robinson, an outspoken champion of civil rights, approached that goal through practical application of better race relations. She was Assistant Director of the University of Rhode Island Extension Division Service until her mandatory retirement. Read more >

  17. Rev. Anna Garlin Spencer (1851-1931)

    Inducted in 2007

    Anna Garlin Spencer (1851-1931) was born in Attleboro, Massachusetts but spent her formative years in Providence. Her embrace of progressive causes and her quest for social justice can be traced to her abolitionist mother and an aunt who worked with the homeless.
    Anna began to write for the Providence Journal at age 19 and worked at the newspaper for eight years. She also became a Providence public school teacher from 1869 to 1871. Read more >
  18. Reverend Mahlon Van Horne (1840-1910)

    Inducted in 2005

    Reverend Mahlon Van Horne (1840-1910) had a career that ranged from minister of the Gospel at the black Union Congregational Church at Newport to minister of diplomacy as United States Consul to St. Thomas in the West Indies.  He was at heart always a teacher.  

    Bom in Princeton New Jersey in 1840, Van Horne was graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Read more >

  19. Frances H. Whipple Green McDougall (1805-1878)

    Inducted in 2004

    Frances Whipple Green McDougall (1805-1878)was one of Rhode Island's most significant mid-nineteenth century writers and reformers. She was born in Smithfield where she spent her childhood in modest circumstances despite her membership in two of Rhode Island's pioneering families.

    Frances began her writing career by publishing her poems in local newspapers and by editing, in 1829, two issues of a local interest periodical which she entitled The Original. By the late 1830s, the reformist spirit of America's “Age of Equalitarianism” turned her interest increasingly towards some of the causes of that period, especially temperance, abolition, and workers' rights. Read more >

  20. George A. Wiley (1931-1973)

    Inducted in 2010

    Warwick's George Wiley (1931-1973) compiled a record of service to his country which equals the sacrifices and service of his fellow hometowners, Nathanael and Christopher Greene. Like those men of the Revolutionary War generation, George, too, became a champion of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Whereas the Greenes took direct military action against Britain's King George by snatching the scepter from a tyrant's hand, George Wiley took direct action to ensure that the rights forged by the American Revolution were extended to those of the least station in American society, the poor.

    Born in 1931 to a middle-class black family with a deeply held religious tradition, George A. Read more >

  21. James N. Williams (1909-)

    Inducted in 1978

    James N. Williams was the first and long-time Executive Director of the Urban League of Rhode Island and participated in the triumphs in the battle for racial equality in this nation. He also was active in many civic endeavors and served as a member of the state Advisory Council on Aging and other organizations which assist elderly residents. Read more >

  22. Frederick C. Williamson, Sr.

    Frederick C. Williamson, Sr. (1915-2010)

    Inducted in 1981

    Frederick C. Williamson, Sr.,1915-2010, was State Director of the RI Department of Community Affairs and Rhode Island's Historic Preservation Officer. He was instrumental in many of the state's historic buildings and sites accepted for the National Historic Register. Read more >



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