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Teacher Resources

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Write Tour Way to Hamilton: 2016 Essay Competition
School Programs
Newport History Videos
Stamp Act Newport: What Will You Choose?
Digital Resources

For a survey of all Rhode Island history organizations, assembled by the RHODI project, click here.

Big Ideas for a Changing World: Essay Competition

2016 Winners Heading to See Hamilton!

During the summer and fall of 2016, high school sophomores had the chance to enter a unique essay competition sponsored by the Newport Historical Society. This writing contest, entitled Big Ideas for a Changing World, asked students to explore the question, “What is happening now in your community, or what could be happening, that has the power to change the future in Rhode Island and potentially the world?”

Rhode Island has been a place of many firsts – innovation runs deep in the Ocean State. It’s the first place in the modern world to incorporate the revolutionary principle of religious freedom in its governing documents. That idea and the related concept of separation of church and state went on to sweep the world. Today these principles are included in the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Just a little more than 100 years later, Rhode Islanders changed the world again – this time by starting the Industrial Revolution in America. What will come next?

What was the prize? Tickets to the hit Broadway musical Hamilton: An American Musical, including a post-show dinner and transportation to/from New York City.

The essay competition was open to Rhode Island tenth grade students who are enrolled at a public high school, or other tuition-free school, during the 2016-2017 academic year. Click below to read two of the winning essays from 2016:
The Power of Energy by Sam Wohlever
Kid Talk by Genevieve Laprade

For the complete submission guidelines, along with the judging criteria, see below.

Please click here for submission guidelines and details about how to participate in the essay competition.

Click here to download the submission form. This completed form must accompany all essay submissions.

School Programs

The Newport Historical Society is pleased to offer a variety of exciting programs and walking tours for grades 1-12. For a comlpete list of offerings and more information, contact the Director of Education at (401) 846-0813 or ipeters @ newporthistory.org.

Here are a few examples of the programs we offer:

Revolutionary Newport: Exploring the American Revolution At the Newport Colony House & the Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House

Grades: 4 through 8
Duration: 2.5 hours

On a 2-3 hour interactive, standards-based program in historic downtown Newport, R.I., students discover the experiences of Newport’s diverse inhabitants—Patriots & Tories; soldiers & civilians; enslaved & free people; and men, women & children—before and during the American Revolution.

Inside the 1739 Colony House, students perform brief readers’ theatre skits focused on three key events that occurred here: the 1765 Stamp Act riot, a 1776 reading of the Declaration of Independence, and the 1778 formation of Rhode Island’s Black Regiment.

On an interactive tour through the nearby ca.1697 Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House, students examine evidence from recent research and archaeology and learn about the experiences of the house’s diverse inhabitants during the war.

Polly Wanton

Polly Wanton

Students also meet a costumed role player representing “Polly” Wanton, who was a teenager in Newport during the revolution. “Polly” engages students in discussion, revealing her experiences during the war and her hopes for the future.


Diversity Works: The History of Liberty of Conscience In Colonial Newport

Grades: 5 through 12
Duration: 2 – 2.5 hours

Explore colonial Newport’s remarkable religious diversity on a walking tour that includes tours inside the Great Friends (Quaker) Meeting House (1730), Trinity (Anglican) Church (1726), the Seventh Day Baptist Meeting House (1730), and Touro Synagogue (1763). Discuss the state’s unique heritage of religious toleration, and see the sites of Newport’s first African-American and Catholic churches.

Offered in partnership with the Touro Synagogue Foundation and Trinity Church.

History Detective Tour

Grades: 2 through 5
Duration: 1- 1.5 hours

Discover Newport’s colonial history& its extraordinary architecture on an interactive guided tour. Participants work in pairs to complete a worksheet, recording their observations in words and drawings.

Offered in partnership with the Newport Restoration Foundation.

Stamp Act Newport: What Will You Choose?

Click here to play!

In August 1765, Newport erupted.

Eleven years before the Declaration of Independence, Newport’s 1765 Stamp Act riot was a product of increasing tensions between the colonies and Great Britain. In 1763, the end of the French and Indian War–the North American theater of a global war fought between Great Britain and France– brought economic depression to many colonial cities and severe debt to Great Britain. In order to increase its revenue, Parliament passed the Sugar Act in 1764 and the Stamp Act in 1765. Many colonists hated the Stamp Act–they saw this internal tax on paper goods (as opposed to a tax regulating trade) as an overstep of Parliament’s authority. While the colonies had generally enjoyed little interference from Parliament, the Stamp Act prompted fierce debate over Parliament’s rights over the colonies, and the colonists’ own rights as British subjects. As the fifth largest town in the colonies, Newport was a center of colonial debate surrounding the rights of Parliament and their place within the British Empire.

It can be difficult to understand events like the Stamp Act riot. Why would a person support a tax that seems unfair? Why would a person intimidate their peers into exile? How does a peaceful movement erupt into a full-scale riot?

This interactive history adventure, part of Newport Historical Society’s Revolution House project, addresses these questions by recreating the discomfort of making decisions without knowing their consequences. Follow fictional character Jeremy Swallow as he navigates revolutionary Newport—without the benefit of hindsight. Then, learn about the real people that Swallow and his decisions are based on.

Newport History Videos

For engaging videos about Newport history and 18th century life, check out our History Videos by clicking here.