Inductees in Historians/Historical Accounts, Preservation

  1. 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 >

  2. Samuel Greene Arnold

    Samuel Greene Arnold (1821-1880)

    Inducted in 2004

    Samuel Greene Arnold (1821-1880) is one of the two foremost historians of colonial Rhode Island.  He was born into a prominent merchant family and was descended from Thomas Arnold, one of Providence’s earliest settlers.  Arnold was educated by private tutors, attended private schools, graduated from Brown University in 1841, and earned a law degree from Harvard in 1845.

    After extensive travels, available to a man of wealth and leisure, Arnold embarked upon the writing of a detailed and scholarly History of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations covering the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Read more >

  3. James Newall Arnold (1844-1927)

    Inducted in 2007

    Arnold, James N. (James Newell), 1844-1927

    James N. Arnold (1844-1927) whose contributions to the study of Rhode Island history are as fresh and useful today as they were when first transcribed, dealt in data  of family life: official town documents and records; newspaper accounts; birth, marriage, and death records in church archives; and history on stone in local graveyards.   While historical interpretations pass in and out of favor; the cold facts remain. Read more >

  4. Dr. Robert D. Ballard (1942-)

    Inducted in 2010

    Best known for his 1985 discovery of the Titanic, Dr. Robert Ballard has succeeded in tracking down numerous other significant shipwrecks, including the Lusitania, the German battleship Bismarck, the lost fleet of Guadalcanal, the U.S. aircraft carrier Yorktown (sunk in the World War II Battle of Midway), and John F. Read more >

  5. John Russell Bartlett

    John Russell Bartlett (1805-1886)

    Inducted in 2004

    Bartlett, John Russell, 1805-1886

    John Russell Bartlett (1805-1886) is generally regarded as Rhode Island’s greatest secretary of state.  Although a Providence native, he was educated in Canada and New York and operated a bookstore in New York City during the late 1830s and 1840s.  Surrounded by books, he turned to writing.  In 1847 Bartlett published The Progress of Ethnology which was followed a year later by his famous Dictionary of Americanisms. Read more >

  6. Thomas Williams Bicknell

    Thomas Williams Bicknell (1834-1925)

    Inducted in 2010



    Bicknell, Thomas Williams, 1834-1925

    Thomas W. Bicknell (1834-1925) of Barrington was one of the two outstanding historians of Rhode Island during the first half of the 20th century (Dr. Charles Carroll was the other). In 1920 he published a three-volume narrative history of the state, supplemented by three biographical volumes. Read more >

  7. John Nicholas Brown (1900-1979)

    Inducted in 1975

    John Nicholas Brown, 1900-1979, was a former assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air, senior fellow at Brown University and a director of the Smithsonian Institution. He directed the search and recovery of the works of art stolen by the Nazis for which he was decorated by the French and Belgian governments. Read more >

  8. Harold W. Browning (1893-1987)

    Inducted in 1977

    Harold W. Browning, 1893-1987, graduated from Rhode Island State College in 1914, and received his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin. He was Director of Graduate Studies, Dean of Men, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Vice President, and Vice President Emeritus of the University at the University of Rhode Island. During his tenure, he played a prominent role in attaining university status for the school. Read more >

  9. Justice Walter Snow Burges

    Justice Walter Snow Burges (1808-1892)

    Inducted in 2006


    Burges, Walter S. (Walter Snow), 1808-1892

    Justice Walter Snow Burges (1808-1892) was a native of Rochester, Massachusetts.  His uncle, Congressman Tristam Burges, a former chief justice, oriented Walter toward Rhode Island and Brown University, where Tristam was a professor of oratory.

    Walter Burges graduated from Brown with honors in 1831, and then taught school for four years while studying law. Read more >

  10. Dr. Charles Carroll (1876-1936)

    Inducted in 2009



    Carroll, Charles, 1876-1936

    Dr. Charles Carroll, Rhode Island’s foremost historian of his era, was born in Providence to newspaper printer William Carroll and Mary (Sheehan) Carroll. He was educated in the Providence public schools and at Brown University where he excelled in mathematics, edited the Brown Daily Herald, captained the debate team, and served as secretary of the class of 1898. He furthered his studies at Harvard receiving a law degree from that university in 1901, the same year he was admitted to the Rhode Island bar. Read more >

  11. Beatrice O. "Happy" Chace

    Inducted in 1999

    A historic preservationist, Beatrice Chace was instrumental in preventing Colonial homes on College Hill's Benefit Street from being torn down. A a descendant of an old Rhode Island family, she used her personal weath and knowledge of real estate to transform College Hill (Providence). Beginning in 1955 with a single house on the corner of Thayer and Transit streets, Chace turned her passion into a business. In 1956, she founded Burnside Company to buy and restore houses on or near the northern end of Benefit Street. Read more >

  12. Dr. Patrick T. Conley

    Inducted in 1995

    Dr, Conley, of Bristol, is universally considered as Rhode Island’s most prolific historian and a leading disseminator of knowledge concerning the State’s heritage.  Earning distinction through his pursuit of several careers as an educator, author, attorney, civic leader, government official, real estate developer, as well as historian, he has written and published more scholarly works pertaining to the history of Rhode Island than any other person.  He founded the Rhode Island Heritage Commission where he served as Chairman, which preceded the Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission of the State. Read more >

  13. Dr. Manuel da Silva (1926-)

    Inducted in 2010

    Dr. Manuel da Silva was born on September 5, 1926 in the village of Caviâo, Vale de Cambra in continental Portugal. After completing high school in Portugal, he emigrated to Brooklyn, New York with his mother and brother in January, 1946 to join his father, who was an American citizen. Young Manuel studied the English language intensively, and in 1948 he entered Washington Square College of New York University graduating with a biology degree in 1952. Read more >

  14. Antoinette F. Downing (1904-2001)

    Inducted in 1978

    Antoinette F. Downing, 1904-2001, was the preservationist who was Chairwoman of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission and the Providence Historic District Commission. Her tireless efforts on behalf of the buildings of Rhode Island have made her name synonymous with historic preservation in the state. Read more >

  15. Doris Duke (1912-1993)

    Inducted in 2001


    Duke, Doris, 1912-1993

    The late Doris Duke formerly of Newport, famed tobacco heiress who is one of Rhode Island’s greatest philanthropists. In 1968, she helped to launch the Newport Restoration Foundation to preserve that historic city’s 18th and early 19th century domestic architecture. Later, Ms. Duke made a major gift to the nature Conservancy to preserve land in several communities and directed that her Newport mansion, “Rough Point,” become a public museum. Read more >

  16. Amasa Eaton (1841-1914)

    Inducted in 2009


    Eaton, Amasa M. (Amasa Mason), 1841-1914


    Amasa Eaton  was a prominent Providence attorney who might be described as the quintessential Progressive reformer. His distinguished lineage included Providence’s Brown family and the Herreshoffs of Bristol. 
    He was an outspoken advocate of home rule for Providence and a member of the Metropolitan Park Commission, the Blackstone Neighborhood Improvement Association, and various good-government organizations. Read more >
  17. Theodore Foster

    Theodore Foster (1752-1828)

    Inducted in 2000


    Foster, Theodore, 1752-1828

    Theodore Foster was born in Brookfield, Massachusetts in 1752, the son of Jedediah Foster, a judge of the Superior Court, and Dorothy Dwight of Dedham a descendant of William Pyncheon, an original incorporator of the Massachusetts Bay Company.  As a young man Foster came to Providence to study at Rhode Island College (now Brown University) and graduated in 1770.  In 1771 the socially-prominent youth married equally prominent Lydia Fenner, sister of Arthur Fenner, Jr., afterwards governor of Rhode Island. Read more >

  18. George Washington Greene

    George Washington Greene (1811-1883)

    Inducted in 2004


    Greene, George Washington, 1811-1883

    George Washington Greene, prominent educator and author, was born in East Greenwich and was the grandson of Nathanael Greene, the great Revolutionary War general.

    As a young man, Greene traveled extensively in Europe gaining proficiency in the Italian and French languages. His first wife was Italian and he served as U.S. Read more >

  19. Rudolph Frederick Haffenreffer, Jr. (1874-1954)

    Inducted in 2007

     Haffenreffer, Rudolph Frederick, 1874-1954

    Rudolf Frederick Haffenreffer, Jr. (1874-1954), a native of Boston and a first generation German-American, became a successful Fall River brewer and purchased several hundred acres in Bristol from 1903 to 1912 for use as a summer retreat. His acquisitions included Mount Hope and the Bradford House. 

    After completing his basic education in the Boston school system, young Rudolph was sent to Stuttguart, Germany to study chemistry. Read more >

  20. John Howland

    John Howland (1757-1854)

    Inducted in 2000


    Howland, John, 1757-1854

    John Howland, a public-spirited businessman who began his career as an apprentice hairdresser, is often cited as the father of the Providence public school system. In 1799, the Newport-born civic leader organized an educational lobby which induced the General Assembly to pass a “free school act” on March 13, 1800. Pursuant to that act, Howland directed the town’s efforts to comply. Providence appointed its first school committee in August, with Howland as its dominant voice. Read more >

  21. Dr. John Franklin Jameson

    Dr. John Franklin Jameson (1859-1937)

    Inducted in 2007

    Jameson, J. Franklin (John Franklin), 1859-1937

    J. Franklin Jameson (1859-1937) was a history professor at Brown University from 1888 to 1901, a vice president of the Rhode Island Historical Society, first secretary of the American Historical Association and long-time editor of its journal, The American Historical Review, Director of Historical Research at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C. Read more >

  22. Leona McElroy Kelly (1919-2000)

    Inducted in 2002

    Former Rhode Island Representative from South Kingstown.

    Leona A. Kelley was born in Providence on August 15, 1919. She attended Classical High School and the University of Rhode Island graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1941. Read more >

  23. Dr. Maury Klein (1939-)

    Inducted in 2011


    Professor Maury Klein, a resident of Saunderstown, has published sixteen major books in a legendary forty-four year career at the University of Rhode Island. His works, almost all national in scope, examined the industrialization of America and the Captains of Industry who spearheaded that technological revolution. Among his output are several publications that dissect the growth and influence of the railroad, especially the iconic Union Pacific that connected the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific in 1869. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize three times and became a finalist in 1986 for his fascinating biographical effort entitled The Life and Legend of Jay Gould. Read more >
  24. Albert T. Klyberg

    Inducted in 2014

    Albert T. Klyberg, a native of New Jersey, came to Rhode Island in 1968 after completing his doctoral courses at the University of Michigan. His purpose was to assume the directorship of the staid Rhode Island Historical Society--a position he held with distinction for three decades.

    Upon arrival Al immediately recognized a deficit in the Ocean State's history. Read more >

  25. Robert B. Lynch

    Robert B. Lynch (1922-2003)

    Inducted in 2004

    Bob "Chief" Lynch was known for his volunteer contributions to the preservation and promotion of Rhode Island's heritage over the last four decades. 

    Lynch graduated from Cranston High School and Brown University (Class of 1944). He was a Navy veteran of World War II. He served  on the Harry F. Read more >

  26. Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan

    Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840-1914)

    Inducted in 2005

    Mahan, A. T. (Alfred Thayer), 1840-1914

    Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840-1914), the best known and most influential naval officer of the late 19th century, ironically was born at West Point, the son of Dennis Hart Mahan, a professor of military engineering and dean of faculty at the U.S. Read more >

  27. George Champlin Mason, Sr.

    George Champlin Mason, Sr. (1820-1894)

    Inducted in 2006

    Mason, George C. (George Champlin), 1820-1894

    George Champlin Mason, Sr. was a noted Newport architect, real estate developer, editor of the Newport Mercury, prolific historian of Newport, and a founder of the Newport Historical Society.  Among his significant architectural designs are Chepstow, the 1860-61 Italianate villa just off Bellevue Avenue, Newpor; Eisenhower House, at 1 Lincoln Drive at Ford Adams State Park, used during the former president's administration as his summer residence. Read more >

  28. Mayor Robert J. McKenna (1931-2012)

    Inducted in 1993

    Dr. McKenna, a native of Providence, was Mayor of the City of Newport, as well as having been a Professor of Politics and Assistant to the President of Salve Regina University. He was educated at St. Patrick's School, La Salle Academy, Brown University and the Catholic University of America. Read more >

  29. Dr. D. Scott Molloy, Jr.

    Inducted in 2009

  30. Dr. Usher Parsons

    Dr. Usher Parsons (1788-1868)

    Inducted in 2002


    Parsons, Usher, 1788-1868
    Dr. Usher Parsons of Providence was Rhode Island’s foremost physician of the early 19th century. Born in Alfred, Maine, the youngest of nine children, Parsons had little formal schooling, but began the study of medicine as an apprentice to physicians in Alfred and Boston. Parsons was licensed to practice by the Massachusetts Medical Society in 1812 and immediately gained valuable experience as a surgeon for Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry in the Battle of Lake Erie (1813). Read more >
  31. Congressman Elisha Reynolds Potter, Jr.

    Congressman Elisha Reynolds Potter, Jr. (1811-1882)

    Inducted in 2002

    Congressman Elisha Reynolds Potter, Jr. (1811-1882) of South Kingstown was the son and namesake of a U.S. congressman, Elisha Reynolds Potter, Sr. Read more >

  32. Sidney S. Rider (1833-1917)

    Inducted in 2007

    Sidney S. Rider (1833-1917) was born in Brainard's Bridge, Nassau County, New York in 1833 and died in Providence in 1917. He attended schools in New York and Pomfret, Connecticut. Coming to Providence as a boy, he went into the book business, eventually taking over the store of Charles Burnett. Read more >

  33. Abigail Aldrich Rockefeller

    Abigail Aldrich Rockefeller (1874-1948)

    Inducted in 2014

    Abigail Aldrich Rockefeller, 1874-1948, was the daughter of U.S. Sen. Nelson Aldrich, patron of the arts, and advocate for women's rights. Read more >

  34. Walter K. Schroder (1929-)

    Inducted in 2007

    Although he was born in Pawtucket, Walter Schroder, the son of German immigrants, spent his early years in Germany where he was drafted in 1944 at age fifteen to serve with an antiaircraft battery. Captured by the British in 1945, he served as a P.O.W. Read more >

  35. George L. Sisson (1919-)

    Inducted in 2005

    • Born in Portsmouth, R.I. 1919, Resident of Bristol since 1963
    • Fall River Public Schools, Durfee High, 1938
    • William & Mary College, A.B. Read more >
    • Chief Justice William Read Staples (1798-1868)

      Inducted in 2002

      Chief Justice William Read Staples (1798-1868) of Providence was a prominent lawyer, jurist, and civil servant. With the possible exception of Samuel Greene Arnold, who eulogized him, Staples was also the premier Rhode Island historian of the nineteenth century.
      In the 1820s, Staples became a leader of the Rhode Island bar and then a prosecutor for the office of attorney general. In that public post his most notable assignment was as chief prosecutor in the infamous Avery Murder Trial of 1833. Read more >
    • Rev. Ezra Stiles (1727-1795)

      Inducted in 1998

      The Reverend Ezra Stiles (1727-1795) was born in North Haven, Connecticut, the son of Isaac Stiles, a Yale-educated Congregational minister.  Ezra entered Yale himself at age fifteen and graduated at nineteen.  Three years later he entered the ministry.  As a young man he also studied law and conducted experiments in electricity. Read more >

    • Chief Justice John Henry Stiness (1840-1913)

      Inducted in 2008

      John Henry Stiness (1840-1913) was born to a family with strong New England civic and military roots.  His great grandfather, Samuel, served in Colonel John Glover’s famous maritime regiment during the American Revolution, and his grandfather was sailing master aboard the schooner Growler on Lake Ontario during the War of 1812.

      In August, 1861, after attending two years at Brown and teaching at Hopkins Grammar School in what was then North Providence, Stiness enlisted in the 2nd New York Artillery, eventually seeing Civil War action at the Second Battle of Bull Run.  He was discharged honorably on physical disability in 1862, returned to Providence, studied law in the offices of Thurston and Ripley, and was admitted to the Bar in 1865. Read more >

    • Lucy Rawlings Tootell

      Lucy Rawlings Tootell (1911-2010)

      Inducted in 2013

      For nearly a century of public life, Lucy R. Tootell was a force of energy promoting heritage education, celebrating the “South County mystique,” and preserving the architecture and memory of the past.

      Born in Jacksonville, Illinois on November 27, 1911, Lucy moved to South Kingstown, Rhode Island, with her family in 1913 before she was two years old.

      As the wife of 1924 Olympic Gold medalist and Rhode Island Hall of Fame inductee, Fred Tootell (teacher, coach, and athletic director of URI), Lucy was a champion in her field, whether it be the school classroom, or telling tales out of school in the nearly half dozen historical societies she founded in South Kingstown, Charlestown, and Richmond. Read more >

    • Wilkins Updike (1784-1867)

      Inducted in 2002

      Wilkins Updike (1784-1867), a member of the noted Cocumscussoc family of North Kingstown, was the youngest of eleven children of Lodowick and Abigail Updike and himself the father of twelve. Wilkins moved to the village of Kingston as a young man after the Updikes lost Cocumscussoc through business reverses, and for many years he represented South Kingstown in the General Assembly. 
      Updike was one of the leading lawyers and orators of his era and a close and effective ally of Henry Barnard and his own neighbor Elisha R. Potter, Jr. Read more >
    • Harold Stirling Vanderbilt (1884-1970)

      Inducted in 2014

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