Press Releases


Former Providence College History Professor, Author Appointed State Historian Laureate

PROVIDENCE, RI - Former Providence College history professor Patrick T. Conley has been appointed the state's Historian Laureate, Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis announced today.

Created earlier this year, the ceremonial post receives no compensation. Among the requirements are distinction as the author of authoritative books or essays about the history of Rhode Island; service in a leadership position in staging commemorative public observances pertaining to various aspects of the history of Rhode Island; and experience teaching and lecturing about the history of Rhode Island.

Conley was one of three applicants who responded to a statewide request for nominations by the Secretary of State's office. More than 150 Rhode Island academic, cultural, municipal, historical and preservation organizations were asked to participate in the search.

Mollis appointed a search committee comprised of State Archivist Gwenn Stearn, State Librarian Tom Evans and Deputy Secretary of State Paul Caranci, which reviewed the submissions. Conley was the committee's unanimous recommendation.

Among the notable Rhode Islanders who submitted letters of recommendation on Conley's behalf were Edward Sanderson, executive director of the RI Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission; James Wermuth, executive director of the John Clarke Society of Early American Democracy; Phil West, former executive director of Common Cause RI; and former state Attorney General Arlene Violet.

According to his application package, Conley earned a doctorate in history from University of Notre Dame and was a professor of history and constitutional law at Providence College from 1963-1988. He also authored dozens of books and papers including "Makers of Modern Rhode Island" and "Rhode Island Founders: From Settlement to Statehood," is president of the Board of Directors of the Heritage Harbor Museum and frequently lectures about American history at civic, cultural and educational events.

The other applicants were Roberta Mudge Humble, who is president of Westerly Armory Restoration Inc. and a professor of English and technical writing at the Community College of R.I.; and John G. Shaw III, who is president of Friends of Hazard Castle and a former accountant, internal auditor and recruiter.

The duties of historian laureate include delivering historical lectures about pertinent aspects of Rhode Island history at important state historical ceremonies and observances, furnishing historical information or advice, reading and editing state-sponsored historical publications for accuracy and disseminating information about Rhode Island history and heritage.

MEDIA CONTACT: Chris Barnett at 222-4293.


Related links

  • Department or agency: Office of the Secretary of State
  • Online:
  • Release date: 07-26-2012

Share this: