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Teacher Resources

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Write Your Way to Hamilton: 2017-2018 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: Write Your Way to Hamilton 2017-2018 RI 10th Grade Essay Contest

2016-2017 essay contest winners

Open to Rhode Island students enrolled in tenth grade in public and other tuition-free schools.

Rhode Island is a place of firsts – innovation is in our blood! We were the first place in the modern world to incorporate the revolutionary principle of religious freedom in our governing documents. That idea and the related concept of separation of church and state have gone 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 we will do next?

This competition is for students in the 10th grade (2017-2018 academic year), with or without full class participation; students may enter individually or through their class. Each is asked to respond to the prompt below:
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?

Two student winners from each Rhode Island county will be selected. Teachers who sponsor this competition in their classes and have an award-winning student essay will also be invited to join us. Competition winners will receive:
Matinee tickets to the award-winning and genre-busting Broadway show, Hamilton, An American Musical, and transportation to and from New York City on May 12, 2018. The event, including bus trip, time in NYC and show will be chaperoned by teachers of wining students and by NHS staff.

Click here to read about the 2016-2017 contest winners!

Click below to read two of the winning essays from 2016-2017:
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.