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Welcome to the Newell D. Goff Center for Education and Public Programs. To present and interpret Rhode Island’s past to the public, the Goff Center sponsors tours and programs at the John Brown House Museum, the Aldrich House, the Museum of Work & Culture, and the Mary Elizabeth Robinson Research Center. In addition, we create educational materials to be used by students and teachers and provide professional development opportunities for our state’s and the nation’s teachers, thanks to the federal Teaching American History (TAH) grant program, and funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Park Service, the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, and the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission and other sources. We are also generously supported by the private donations of members and supporters like you.

Here are some of the current Goff Center initiatives:

Rhode Island & National Online Resources

Roger Williams’s Compass 1902.3.1

EnCompass: A Digital Archive of Rhode Island History

The RIHS is currently developing EnCompass, a multi-media, digital archive of Rhode Island History in order to provide free access to primary- and secondary-source content that allows teachers to easily connect Rhode Island examples to broader national themes and trends. The textbook is aligned with current GSEs for Social Studies in RI, and is targeted toward Grades K-12. In order to deliver the most useful product possible to teachers, it is crucial that we engage their support and solicit feedback from the earliest stages. To this end, we have chosen the topics for the first unit based on data from a 2013 survey of Social Studies teachers conducted by RIHS and supported by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.

Anchor School Program:

Over the past decade, the Rhode Island Historical Society has worked with more than half of Rhode Island’s school districts through the federally funded Teaching American History grant program. When it was announced that this funding would no longer be available, we set to work to determine how we could best continue to support history education in the state. To this end, we’re piloting a new initiative: the RIHS Anchor School program.

Through the RIHS Anchor School program, we identify one school district each year to provide the district’s teachers with professional development training, curriculum assistance, and digitized resources at no cost to them. We provide free school tours to students in the district at our John Brown House Museum in Providence and Museum of Work & Culture in Woonsocket. In addition, we are working with our key partner organizations across the state to strengthen connections between the schools and the historic sites.

In working with the Director of Curriculum and lead teachers from grades K to 12, we identify a ground-breaking lesson and/or field experience for each grade that will allow for a deep dive into a major theme or topic at each grade level.

All-Abilities Programming:

The Rhode Island Historical Society is committed to making its locations accessible to visitors of all abilities.  We strive to understand the needs of our communities and work to foster an inclusive environment for exploring and learning. Creating access for individuals who may be intimidated by museums or feel that their stories are not mirrored within its walls is our priority. We seek to build lasting relationships with all visitors and supporters, and endeavor to meet their needs and exceed their expectations.  The Society is working on opportunities to expand accessibility for visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired, or mobility impaired at both the John Brown House Museum in Providence and the Museum of Work & Culture in Woonsocket.

Field Trip Free-for-All and Transportation Support:

The Field Trip Free for All program offers, at no cost, teacher-supervised visits to the RIHS’s John Brown House Museum and Mary Elizabeth Robinson Research Center in Providence, as well as the Museum of Work & Culture in Woonsocket for students from preschool through higher education, as well as for homeschool families and educational organizations. The RIHS’s immersive experiences give students greater access to history in “their own backyard.” Tours can also help teachers address difficult subjects that are sometimes avoided in classrooms.

The RIHS provides a strong foundation in educational and historical literacy in a time when funding for these programs is increasingly being threatened. Regardless of financial status, history should be accessible to all, which is why the RIHS has established the Klyberg Educational Access Fund, made possible by a bequest from former director Albert T. Klyberg, who passed away in January of 2017. The fund will award grants of up to $400 to Title I-designated schools to help underwrite the cost of bus transportation to RIHS sites.

Think Like an Archaeologist:

Think Like an Archaeologist is a four classroom session program, with an additional visit to the RISD Museum at the Rhode Island School of Design, Brown University’s Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, or the Rhode Island Historical Society’s John Brown House Museum.  The sessions introduce 6th grade Social Studies students to the whole process of archaeology, from choosing an excavation site and learning to dig, to analyzing and caring for artifacts.  Each session is hands-on, led by faculty, staff, and doctoral students from Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design.  This is a partnership program between Brown University’s Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, the RISD Museum at the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Rhode Island Historical Society for 6th grade Social Studies students in the Providence Public Schools.

For more information about these and other Goff Center initiatives, please contact Geralyn Ducady, Director, Newell D. Goff Center for Education & Public Programs, gducady@rihs.org, (401) 331-8575 x345.