Newport Historical Society Revolutionizing Costumed Interpretation

Thursday, February 18, 2016


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Photo: Newport Historical Society

The Newport Historical Society has developed a "revolutionary" approach to presenting costumed interpretation. 

“While it is clear that the public has become less interested in visiting traditional historic sites, we never thought that folks had lost interest in history. In an age where social media connects, and the public is increasingly accustomed to personalized interaction, we wanted to address current trends by bringing the past to life in a new way. We wanted to interpret this pivotal event in Newport’s history in a way that had not been done before. We are showing that history wasn’t written just by the founding fathers, but by individuals in the street who faced major decisions that would affect their lives and shape the country’s future. We wanted to do this in the street, where there events originally took place," said the Society’s Executive Director Ruth Taylor.

In 2014, the NHS hostied a reenactment of the 1765 Stamp Act Riot. Visitors were put in the action and could both interact and join the fun—including following the effigy parade, standing amongst interpreters during the protest, sitting alongside ladies at the tea or browsing for goods at a “pop-up” colonial market. 

This program took place entirely outside and was free, making it accessible to all. 

Next Reenactment 

Liberty or Loyalty, the Society’s next living history event and it will take place on Saturday February 20, 2016 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Colony House in downtown Newport, a group of interpreters will show what it was like to live in a once thriving colonial seaport on the eve of the American Revolution. 

During the program, patriots and loyalists will discuss the city's political climate and how remaining loyal to the crown or declaring liberty affects their daily lives. 

“Bringing history to life is such an effective way to get people to understand the very real decisions that individuals faced, and the Newport Historical Society has done an exemplary job with their Stamp Act Protest this summer and other events. I know other organizations will be eager to learn insights from and be inspired by their creativity and hard work," said Lee Wright Founder of The History List. 

In the upcoming months, the Newport Historical Society will share case studies and event planning details at a number of museum professional conferences. 

Newport Historical Society 

Since 1854, the Newport Historical Society has collected and preserved the artifacts, photographs, documents, publications, and genealogical records that relate to the history of Newport County, to make these materials readily available for both research and enjoyment, and to act as a resource center for the education of the public about the history of Newport County, so that knowledge of the past may contribute to a fuller understanding of the present. For more information please click here. 


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