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“An Evening of Culinary Indulgence & 18th Century Culture”

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On Saturday September 17, 2016, the Newport Historical Society presented An Evening of Culinary Indulgence & 18th Century Culture at the 1739 Colony House. The event recreated aspects of a colonial-era festive family meal using 18th century recipes. Cocktails and drinks such as Colonial Fish House Punch and the Rattleskull were served in reproduction drinking vessels. The dinner presented seasonally appropriate foods including quahog chowder, “salat” of local greens, succotash, and apple tansey with cream for dessert. Many attendees commented on how well our forefathers ate. To review the menu and related notes about the history of these dishes, click here.

The evening also featured costumed interpreters who represented specific figures from 1765 Newport. These living historians mingled with guests during the cocktail hour and after dinner, discussing their viewpoints on political and social matters that were once central to life in this prosperous seaport. The Ministers of Apollo, a musical ensemble specializing in 18th century musical entertainment, performed during the cocktail hour and after the dinner. Towards the end of the evening, one unfortunate sailor was dragged from the Colony House by Royal Navy sailors as he was pressed into service aboard HMS Maidstone; this mini reenactment represented a naval impressment incident from June 1765.

Co-chaired by Elizabeth Leatherman and Susan Jacquet, An Evening of Culinary Indulgence & 18th Century Culture quickly sold-out and plans are underway for 2017.  The dinner was catered by McGrath Catering, who adapted the colonial recipes, and was sponsored by Newport Storm, Thomas Tew Rum, and Doug Newhouse and Holly Bannister. All photographs by Nick Mele.

Write Your Way to Hamilton!

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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.

During the forthcoming academic year, high school sophomores have the chance to enter a unique essay competition sponsored by the Newport Historical Society. This writing contest, entitled Big Ideas for a Changing World, asks 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’s the prize? Tickets to the hit Broadway musical Hamilton: An American Musical, including a post-show dinner and transportation to/from New York City. 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 be invited to join the trip.

The essay competition is 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. For the complete submission guidelines, along with the judging criteria, see the links below. Entries must be emailed or postmarked by January 1, 2017. Winners will be announced March 1, 2017 and the prize trip will take place during the April 2017 school vacation.

 

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Making Newport’s History Available for the Public

Over the last several years, the Newport Historical Society has received growing recognition for its innovative approach to public history. The Society is pleased to announce its most recent activities which bring history to the public in meaningful ways: an exclusive high school essay contest, three new digital resources, and a program dedicated to exploring public history practices.

The NHS has launched a new use for a traditional school-based program. This year, its essay contest encourages young people to think about their place in history, and has a prize which is also based in its mission: the winners will see Hamilton: An American Musical in New York. Hamilton, a great example of public history through performance, brings the stories of the past to audiences where they are today, and uses a classic form of popular culture – the Broadway musical – to do so.

High school sophomores are invited to enter the NHS’s essay contest by exploring 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?” Essays are due by November 15, 2016, winners receive a free trip to New York City, Hamilton tickets, and dinner. Click here for complete details, including eligibility requirements.

The NHS recently launched a series of new digital resources that explore diverse topics on a platform that allows people around the world to visit them without leaving their homes. All are accessible through the NHS website.  These online resources include:

  • The Stamp Act Newport website uses a “chose your own adventure” approach to illustrate the complexity of Revolutionary War-era politics and includes digital copies of documents from the NHS collection. This resource is part of the NHS’s Revolution House project.
  • A Resource Guide for 18th Century Dance in Newport presents a collection of resources to review colonial dance practices and helps illustrate the influence of social history in the years surrounding the Revolutionary War.
  • The virtual exhibit Making of a Newport Meal is part of the Society’s Newport Eats history of food initiative, and is one of several virtual exhibits that can be viewed on the NHS’s Explore Historic Newport app.

Finally, How We Practice Public History is the theme of the Society’s September 15, 2016 Annual Meeting. Executive Director Ruth Taylor and Deputy Director Ingrid Peters will discuss specific aspects of this topic. Dr. Taylor Stoermer, public history instructor in several university settings and author of the forthcoming book Public History: A Field Guide (Rowman & Littlefield 2017), will speak about this topic. Additionally award-winning architectural historian and photographer John Tschirch will highlight his latest research, Mapping the Newport Experience, the beginnings of which will be shared through a series of public history programs in the coming months. Naturally this 4pm event, which takes place at the Newport Historical Society’s Resource Center (82 Touro Street, Newport, RI), is free and open to the public. For reservations call 401-841-8770.

“Newport is widely known for its history,” explains the Society’s Executive Director Ruth Taylor. “Millions travel from across the globe to visit our City, and many more who do not regularly visit are interested in, or connected to, our long and vibrant history. The NHS approach to providing the public with experiences of this history makes it widely and individually accessible, and allows us to explore a nuanced, diverse, and ultimately more exciting vision of our history.”

Above: Screenshot of the Stamp Act Newport website.