On Saturday, October 13, 2012, the Rhode Island Historical Society hosts its first-ever What Cheer Day, a fun-filled day of history taking place at all four of our sites. Ever since the Narragansetts are said to have hailed Roger Williams with “What cheer, netop?” (a 17th-century version of “What’s going on, friend?”), the phrase “What Cheer” has been quintessentially Rhode Island: you can find it on street signs and storefronts, and it’s even the motto of Providence. Discover your history on What Cheer Day!
- At the Aldrich House, attend thought-provoking academic roundtables focused on our 2012 theme Rhode Island at War including a keynote by Bruce MacGunnigle, former president of the Rhode Island Sons of the American Revolution, and a dialogue with former members of the 1980s RI organization Women for a Non-Nuclear Future.
- You know that Rhode Islanders fought throughout the South during the Civil War, but did you know that Rhode Island had its own Civil War hospital at Portsmouth Grove? At the RIHS Library, learn more about this important site and take a “sneak peek” tour of the RIHS collections!
- Interact with Revolutionary War reenactors drilling and cooking in uniform on the lawn of the John Brown House Museum. While you’re there, knit a pair of Civil War-era mittens in a “knit-a-long” or follow a scavenger hunt through the Museum. You can even explore Revolutionary War sites on College Hill with walking tours leaving from Museum.
- The culminating event of What Cheer Day will be an evening Gala at the Museum of Work & Culture in Woonsocket, titled Made in Woonsocket, USA, to celebrate the Museum’s 15th anniversary. Join us for a festive evening as we remember the impact the war eras had on manufacturing in Woonsocket. The evening will feature dancing and music by the group “For Sentimental Reasons,” an art auction, special exhibits, food and drinks. Black tie optional or, to add a special flare, come in your favorite war-era costume. We will!
Did you know? When Roger Williams crossed the Seekonk River to found Providence, the Narragansetts greeted him with “What cheer, netop?” A common greeting in the 17th century, “What cheer?” or “What news of cheer do you bring?” is similar to a 21st century expression, “What’s new?” “Netop” is a Narragansett word for friend.