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What: 2019 Valley Talks [FREE EVENTS]

When: January 13 and 27; February 10 and 24; March 10

Where: The Museum of Work & Culture (42 S. Main St., Woonsocket, R.I.)


Free Lecture Series Launches at Museum of Work & Culture January 13

Valley Talks to Get Out of the Gate With Richard Ring’s “Images of Gansett” Presentation

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (Jan. 2, 2019) – Valley Talks, a series of biweekly historical lectures, begins January 13. All events are free and take place at 1:30pm at the Museum of Work & Culture.


The series will kick off with Richard Ring, who will present one of the major acquisitions the Rhode Island Historical Society has made to celebrate its Rah-Rah Rhody programming theme for 2019: the complete, extant archive of thousands of negatives of photographs taken at the Narragansett Race Track, which opened in 1934 and officially closed in 1978.


“Gansett,” as it was more popularly known, attracted crowds of 40,000 or more, including many celebrities. By 1937, Gansett was the most profitable racetrack in the country, and it became a gathering place for the glitterati of the late 1930s and ’40s: Milton Berle, Cab Calloway, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante, Mickey Rooney, and Alfred Vanderbilt were regulars, as were star athletes like Jack Dempsey, Babe Ruth, and Lou Gehrig. Its creation also sparked the so-called “race track war,” a long Rhode Island story of money, politics, and conflict.


Seating for Images of Gansett: A Brief History of Narragansett Race Track Through Its Photo Archive is limited to 75 and is first come, first served.


Ring is Deputy Executive Director for Collections and Interpretation at the RIHS. He has held positions at the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, the Providence Public Library, and the Watkinson Library at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.


Other Valley Talks will include:


January 27: Former National Park Ranger Chuck Arning will explore the pull factors that led to the immigration of the Irish to the Blackstone River Valley.


February 10: Baseball enthusiast and vintage ballist Jon Henson will survey the rise of the beloved game in the 19th century.


February 24: Mount Saint Charles Hockey Coach David Belisle will discuss the history of the school's illustrious program.


March 10: Writer and historical reenactor Paul Bourget will explain why the battles fought in 1864 were pivotal to the outcome of the American Civil War.


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About the Museum of Work & Culture

The interactive and educational Museum of Work & Culture shares the stories of the men, women, and children who came to find a better life in Rhode Island’s mill towns in the late 19th- and 20th centuries. It recently received a Rhode Island Monthly Best of Rhode Island Award for its SensAbilities Saturdays all-ability program.


About the Rhode Island Historical Society

Founded in 1822, the RIHS, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is the fourth-oldest historical society in the United States and is Rhode Island’s largest and oldest historical organization. In Providence, the RIHS owns and operates the John Brown House Museum, a designated National Historic Landmark, built in 1788; the Aldrich House, built in 1822 and used for administration and public programs; and the Mary Elizabeth Robinson Research Center, where archival, book and image collections are housed. In Woonsocket, the RIHS manages the Museum of Work and Culture, a community museum examining the industrial history of northern Rhode Island and of the workers and settlers, especially French-Canadians, who made it one of the state’s most distinctive areas.


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