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Happy holidays, everyone! It’s hard to believe I am already writing the introduction to our fall/early winter/holiday newsletter, since it seems like only a few months ago we were ringing in New Year 2023. Time really flies when you are busy offering numerous public programs, working hard to keep our buildings and grounds maintained, nurturing beautiful flowers, overseeing studies on our historic structures, managing purchasing and divisional budgets, planning for the future of Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park, and hosting multiple special events with our wonderful tribal, nonprofit, municipal and state partners.
As superintendent, I am particularly proud of our expansion of programs and events at Roger Williams National Memorial, our careful repairs and preservation of the bell towers and bell system at the Old Slater Mill, and our increase in community-based programs throughout the Blackstone River Valley in 2023. The Year 2024 promises to be just as busy, with some wonderful winter public programs coming your way in-person and online and with implementation of our soon-to-be-finalized Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park General Management Plan.
We look forward to seeing you online and in our parks and communities over the next several months, we hope you enjoy a wonderful holiday season, and we wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
-Superintendent Eric Breitkreutz
Walk into winter with us!
Join rangers from Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park this December for a series of winter hikes. Programs start on December 9th and continue through December 30th.
What to Expect:
Together, we’ll check out local wildlife, discover beautiful landscapes, and experience the tranquility of the trail.
- All hikes are free and begin at 9:00 AM. Hikes will last between 60 and 120 minutes (through 11:00 AM).
- Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes and bring water.
- Weather cancellations will be posted on our Facebook page: facebook.com/BlackstoneNPS and our park website: nps.gov/blrv
- Let us know you’re coming! Short Form: https://bit.ly/BVWinterHikes23
Roger Williams National Memorial Joins the US Strategy to Combat Antisemitism
Rangers at Roger Williams National Memorial recently added content to its website that shows how the separation of church and state is reflected in American society. In particular there is a page that discusses the history of the Hahn Memorial, the classical garden that enshrines the site of the spring where the first English inhabitants of Providence gathered for public meetings. Web pages that discuss Roger Williams’s life and ideas can also be found by navigating our homepage.
Name: John Spagnolo
Occupation: Retired Pharmacist
Special Interests/Hobbies: Sports, Traveling, and History
How long have you been a volunteer at the Roger Williams National Memorial?
What inspired you to become a volunteer?
I had recently retired from a very active working career with a lot of people contact. I wanted an activity that would occupy my time, allow me the opportunity to meet people and would be of interest to me.
What unexpected or surprising things did you learn while volunteering for the NPS?
How extensive the National Park Service system is across the country as well as the many benefits it offers selected groups.
What’s the next place on your travel bucket list?
Europe, specifically England and Ireland.
Are you interested in volunteering?
Please contact Molly Cardoza at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the volunteer opportunities at Roger Williams National Memorial and Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park.
Fall Walkabout Recap
This fall, rangers led walking tours in each node of Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park. Over the course of six weeks, we covered both familiar territory and new stories.
The series began with a (rainy!) stroll through Ashton village (Cumberland, RI) and ended with a Veterans Day tour in Whitinsville, MA. Staff from the Old Slater Mill Association offered several Jenks Walking Tours in downtown Pawtucket, RI. These were a highlight of Archaeology Weekend programs.
If you have suggestions for walking tours in 2024, we’d love to hear them! Please reach out to Ranger Allison: e-mail us.
The National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission (America 250) have partnered to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 2026. The partnership will enrich efforts to educate and inspire as the nation begins the countdown to the largest and most inclusive commemoration in the nation’s history.
Winning a war of independence was only the beginning. Mere months after the Constitution of the United States went into effect, a second revolution began. This one would not start with a declaration, but it would be launched with the opening of a mill.
The success of Samuel Slater's cotton spinning mill in Pawtucket, RI touched off a chain reaction that changed how people worked and where they lived. People across the United States and around the world continue to grapple with the consequences of some of those choices to this day.
Over the next four years, park staff at Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park will write articles that take a deeper look at the core legacies of American Independence through the lens of the American Industrial Revolution. New articles will be published in January, April, July, and October of each year.
Read the park’s first four essays now: America250 - Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
Field Trips at the Mill
So far this year, the staff at Old Slater Mill have welcomed 962 school children to the site.
With the return of field trips, elementary, middle, and high school students from multiple states have taken part in a long tradition of educational visits.
Rangers have also been visiting the classroom to talk more about the Blackstone River Valley’s Industrial past. We have visited 309 children in classrooms in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Want to learn more or book an in-classroom or virtual visit? Visit our Education webpage. Education - Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
Ranger Talks at Roger Williams Wraps Up Its First Year
Twice daily talks at Roger Williams National Memorial finished its last program on Sunday, October 29 with a deep dive into the founding of Providence by Ranger Bob Wakeling. For the first time, regular formal ranger programs were offered outdoors at the National Memorial. The success of this new series has convinced us to do it again next year. The short ranger talks offered visitors a scheduled chance to explore the site, learn about our nation’s history, and hit the highlights in the National Memorial’s most important qualities. Stay tuned for next summer’s offerings. In the meantime, visit us during our winter hours to chat with a ranger in our visitor center.
Summer Events at Roger Williams National Memorial
The summer season at the memorial was bustling with excitement, as we hosted a wide range of engaging and educational events. From Science Saturdays to KabuJazz and Bliss Body, there was something for everyone.
Science Saturdays were held on the second Saturday of June, July, and August. These events provided an opportunity for participants to learn about birds, trees, physics, and plants from some amazing organizations, including the NPS, Providence Parks Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership, US Fish & Wildlife Service, The Audubon Society of Rhode Island, Roger Williams Park Zoo, and the Rhode Island Black Storytellers. Attendees also had a chance to get their favorite animals painted on their face, making for a fun experience for all.
In July, we hosted the KabuJazz Ensemble featuring Candida Rose, who brought the sounds of Cape Verde to downtown Providence. This was a significant event for us as it marked our first music event since 2019. The event was a resounding success, and everyone had a great time.
In August, we hosted The Everett Company Stage School as they performed Bliss Body, a multimedia dance, movement, and spoken word performance that engaged with underrepresented audiences and drew in an entirely new crowd of visitors. The piece, which collages dance, imagery, and true stories, explored, and shared the experience of bliss while touching on themes of peace and struggle.
Looking ahead to next year, we plan to build on this year's success and provide even more exciting events.
Roger Williams National Memorial Prepares for Winter Hours
Starting December 6, Roger Williams National Memorial’s visitor center will be open Wednesday - Saturday, shifting from the Thursday - Sunday summer hours. The doors will still be open 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM. Staff will be standing by to help you discover the genius of Roger Williams.
Fall Interns at Blackstone
Intern: Colin Prancl
This fall I have been working at the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park as an opportunity to combine my love of history with my interest in video production. Throughout my internship I have been doing research into how the Transportation Revolution played a crucial role in the acceleration of development and manufacturing in the Blackstone River Valley. I am working on a video series to put up on the park's YouTube channel this winter that will focus on how the Blackstone River Valley was not only affected by the Transportation Revolution, but also how the valley's relationship with transportation played a role in the development of the modern United States.
Intern: Aryanna Machado
At Slater Mill, I work the front desk of the visitor center, talking and interacting with visitors and keeping track of the number of visitors. I have also been working on scanning and digitizing documents about Whitinsville, a park node in Massachusetts. It's been a great experience that has been teaching me a lot about public history and the National Park Service!
Intern: Jenny Walsh
Hi my name is Jenny Walsh I am an intern at Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park. I am a senior at Assumption University and am a captain of the golf team there. I am enjoying my time working here helping with school groups, working on social media, and shadowing rangers to see how it is done. I am excited to be here and assist with programs!
Last updated: December 2, 2023