National Awards for two Rhode Island History Organizations

Two Rhode Island history organizations received a 2019 Leadership in History Award of Excellence from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), according to a press release from Preserve Rhode Island and Lippitt House Museum.

Lippitt House Museum won the national award for the special installation Back To The Work: Encounters with Historical and Contemporary Voices, and Little Compton Historical Society won the award for Remember Me: Little Compton’s 46 Historic Cemeteries.

Lippitt House Museum Director, Carrie Taylor, and Little Compton Historical Society Executive Director, Marjory O’Toole, traveled to Philadelphia, PA to accept the awards. The AASLH Leadership in History Award is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history. 

Carrie Taylor accepted the award on behalf of Lippitt House Museum and said in a statement, “It’s a great honor being recognized by our peers. “Back to the Work” was a program that highlighted the work that went into building and maintain Lippitt House. We make it a priority to tell all the stories connected to Lippitt House – not only the Lippitt family but the servants and laborers connected to the site too. To have our work be recognized nationally is great for the museum.”

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Back to the Work was a multi-sensory installation offered at Lippitt House Museum in Spring of 2018 as a collaboration with Strange Attractor, a performing arts group who creates experimental theater experiences. The installation, brought to light the human effort and expertise that creates the clothes we wear, the houses we live in, and the objects that surround us. Visitors explored and discussed the people – past and present – who helped create and care for Lippitt House.  “Back to the Work” was just one program in the museum’s ongoing efforts to collaborate with local artists. The installation was supported by a grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.

The Little Compton Historical Society’s Marjory O’Toole said in a statment, “We were particularly pleased that the Remember Me project received this award because it was such a community effort, combining preservation work with deep historical research and public programming. One hundred volunteers each attended a gravestone cleaning workshop and pledged to clean 10  gravestones. Over 1000 gravestones have been cleaned in the last year as a result of their efforts, and they are continuing their work”. 

The project culminated in a published guidebook Remember Me: A Guide to Little Compton’s 46 Historic Cemeteries coauthored by O’Toole, Melinda Green and Helen Richmond Webb. The fully illustrated book shares information about each of Little Compton’s 46 historic cemeteries. The book includes a map, explains which cemeteries are open for public visitation, and provides thoroughly researched histories of each site. It features more than a hundred photographs depicting the cemeteries and dozens of notable gravestones, many of the photos were taken by Board President Bart Brownell. The guidebook is available at the Historical Society’s Wilbor House Museum, in retail shops near Little Compton and on Amazon.