Down by the Old Mill Stream: Quilts in Rhode
IslandLinda Welters and Margaret T. Ordonez, editors, Kent State
University Press. 2000.
If you yearn to learn more about the lives of your female
ancestors, then think about whether or not they made a quilt. This beautifully
illustrated book, edited by two professors at the Department of Textiles,
Fashion Merchandising and Design at the University of Rhode Island, is a
resource for anyone trying to understand their female ancestors. Down by the
Old Mill Stream examines the history of Rhode Island’s textile industry and
the women (and a few men) that made quilts. You will find descriptions of the
fabrics and designs as well as additional information on these ancestral
treasures. The book is in two parts: Part one discusses the historical and
social context of quilting in Rhode Island while the latter half features an
analysis of thirty quilts. This publication is part of the Rhode Island Quilt
Documentation Project, a collaborative effort started in 1992 to research and
document nearly 900 quilts in communities throughout Rhode Island.
Even if you don’t own a family quilt, this book will inspire
you to learn more about quilting so that you can leave your own legacy to your
descendants. As a photo historian used to looking at black and white
photographs of nineteenth-century families, this book helps me visualize the
fabrics worn by individuals in these images. Don’t forget to check the index to
see if one of your ancestors is listed.
Mallet & Chisel: Gravestone Carvers of Newport,
Rhode Island, in the Eighteenth Century by Vincent F. Luti
(Hardcover), New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2002.
This book is so much more than its title suggests. Vincent F.
Luti, a retired professor emeritus of music theory at the University of
Massachusetts, spent twenty years studying the gravestones of the Narragansett
Basin of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Luti compiled notes, made gravestone
rubbings, and took photographs of stones engraved by a handful of carvers.
Start with his <link> preface for an explanation of what is covered and
why he dedicated so much time to sorting out these carvers. This book is richly
illustrated with photographs, charts, and sample engravings to help the layman
understand the subtle symbols that appear in eighteenth-century gravestone
carvings. Luti examines the John Stevens shop, a leading Newport maker of
gravestones, defining and deciphering that family’s dynasty as well as looking
at an imitator.
There is so much to like about this book. The diagrams are
easy to follow. An index contains a list of names of interest to genealogists.
Three foldout charts at the back of the book list the carvings by individual and
are broken down by stylistic elements. If you have ever walked through a
historic cemetery and wondered about who made those stones, then this is a book
for you. Gravestone scholars, genealogists, and social historians can thank
Vincent Luti for uncovering so much new information and presenting it in this
wonderful volume. Congratulations on a job well done!
The Wealth of Nations: A Peoples' History of Rhode
Islandby Lisa Roseman Beade, Donald Breed, Marygael
Cullen, Michelle Green (Hardcover), Community Communications in cooperation with
The Rhode Island Historical Society and the Greater Providence Chamber of
The immigrant history of the state from the colonial period
to the present is the focus of the first half of this lavishly illustrated
volume. It includes the history of Native Americans in the state as well as
photographs and information on each of the major ethnic groups that settled the
area. The second half focuses on the different industries, businesses,
educational institutions, and healthcare companies in the state today.
Historical and contemporary photographs let you compare past and present Rhode
Working-Class Americanism: The Politics of Labor in a
Textile City, 1914-1960 by Gary Gerstle. Princeton University, 2001.
This is a new paperback version of the hardcover classic
first published in 1989 by Cambridge University Press. This latest edition
features a new preface by the author, who is Professor of History and Director
of the Center for Historical Studies at the University of Maryland in College
Gerstle used the records of the Independent Textile Union of
Woonsocket, Rhode Island, to explore the concept of “Americanism” between World
War I and the Cold War. There is plenty of information on late nineteenth and
early twentieth-century Woonsocket, particularly involving the large French
Canadian community and the small number of Franco-Belgians in the area.
According to Gerstle, these two groups “would significantly shape the city’s
economy, culture, and politics.” This is a must read for anyone with roots in
these two ethnic groups in northern Rhode Island.
Unwelcome Americans: Living on the Margin in Early New
England (Early American Studies) by Ruth Wallis Herndon. University
of Pennsylvania Press, 2001
Ruth Wallis Herndon credits Phebe Perkins, an
eighteenth-century woman from Hopkinton, Rhode Island, as her inspiration to
seek out the hidden lives of the forty “unwelcome Americans” featured in this
volume. These transient and poor individuals would be cross-examined by town
councils after they arrived in towns seeking shelter. They were then sent on
their way, only to repeat the process in the next town. If your ancestors in
eighteenth-century Rhode Island are difficult to locate, you will want to follow
Herndon’s methodology for finding individuals whose lives consisted of “living
on the margin.” This is a fascinating read.
I, Roger Williams by Mary Lee Settle. W.W.
I have to admit I wondered how an author could write a
critically acclaimed novel about the founder of Providence, but Mary Lee Settle
did it. Settle imaginatively wrote a fictional autobiography of Williams
starting with his life in England, moving on to his employment as a secretary to
Sir Edward Coke, his schooling at Cambridge, and his eventual immigration to New
England. She uses milestones from his life to discuss the major historical
events of the period. In order to involve readers in the seventeenth-century
experience she wrote in the English appropriate for the time. Booklist
commented that readers “will want to find out more about the people and events
that Settle presents.” For genealogists with seventeenth-century Rhode Island
ancestors, this offers a break from scholarly research.
Especially for Children
Finding Providence: The Story of Roger Williams
(An I Can Read Chapter Book)by Avi, James Watling (Illustrator), Harper
Avi, a Rhode Island-based author, wrote this book for second
and third grade students about the life of Roger Williams, starting with his
expulsion from Massachusetts Bay in 1635. The narrator is Williams’s daughter
who tells her father’s story through the events in his life: the trial in
Boston, his escape into the wilderness, and his relationship with the
Narragansett tribe. In this volume, the daughter is credited with naming
Providence. While this is not a new book, it’s a classic for those young
historians in your family.