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Museum Displays

All museum dislays are located in the exhibit hall

Rhode Island in the Time of Lincoln

To mark the bicentennial of President Abraham Lincoln's birth, the RIHS created an exhibit that takes a look at life in Rhode Island during the 1860s. Though Lincoln made only two stops in RI, they were widely attended and remembered. But what did the Rhode Island that Lincoln visited look like? Through an array of primary-source materials, this exhibit explores the people, places, and attitudes of the mid-19th century. Sponsored by the RI Foundation and the RI Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.



Elisha Hunt Rhodes: Prepared to do my Whole Duty

As part of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, the RIHS developed an exhibit entitled, "Prepared to Do My Whole Duty": Elisha Hunt Rhodes in War and Peace." Rhodes enlisted at the age of 19 in the Rhode Island 2nd volunteers during the Civil War, and rose through the ranks to achieve colonel status. The exhibit features excerpts from his diaries and letters detailing his personal experiences, as well as objects illustrating his life of service during and after the war.


Navigating the Past: Brown University and the Voyage of the Slave Ship Sally, 1764-65

In 1764, a one-hundred ton brigantine called the Sally embarked from Providence, Rhode Island, to West Africa on a slaving voyage. The ship was owned by Nicholas Brown and Company, a Providence merchant firm run by four brothers – Nicholas, John, Joseph, and Moses Brown. The Sally's voyage was one of roughly a thousand transatlantic slaving ventures launched by Rhode Islanders in the colonial and early national period, and one of the deadliest. Of the 196 Africans acquired by the ship's master, Esek Hopkins, at least 109 perished, some in a failed insurrection, others by suicide, starvation, and disease. Records of the Sally venture are preserved in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, as well as in the archives of the Rhode Island Historical Society. Created as a Group Independent Study Project from Brown, under the guidance of Prof. James T. Campbell, this exhibit offers a unique opportunity to retrace the journey of a single slave ship, from its initial preparation through the long months on the African coast, to the auctioning of surviving captives on the West Indian island of Antigua.

Rhode Island: Faith and Freedom

In 2013, Rhode Island commemorated the 350th anniversary of its colonial charter, which granted individuals the freedom to worship without government intrusion. Consequently, many faith communities took root in Rhode Island in the centuries that followed. Rhode Island became a haven for those who wished to escape persecution, yet it also was a colony and, later, a state that denied liberties to some of its inhabitants. This exhibit, made possible through major funding support from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, introduces some of the lesser known founders of faith communities who have shaped the Ocean State. It explores the role that institutions of faith and their founders have played in our cultural consciousness and traces some of the ways that Rhode Islanders have fought for freedoms that have been restricted or taken away.