Announcing the 2024 Valley Talks series at the Museum of Work & Culture


(WOONSOCKET, R.I.) – The Museum of Work & Culture, a division of the Rhode Island Historical Society, is proud to announce its Valley Talks series for 2024. Valley Talks is an annual program of free lectures that celebrate the local history of the Blackstone Valley and, this year, take their inspiration from the Rhode Island Historical Society’s 2024 theme Making History, which will explore innovation, invention, craft, and creation throughout our state’s history. The series will feature five talks held on alternating Sundays at 1:30 p.m., beginning Jan. 7, and will include:


Sunday, January 7, 1:30 pm Making the French Connection: Industrial Architectural Heritages of Woonsocket, Roubaix, and Tourcoing Due to a combination of economic, labor, and cultural conditions, Woonsocket became the perfect American city at the turn of the 20th century for several French and Belgian textile companies to expand their operations. Join architect Jonathan Bell as he shares the legacies of Woonsocket's counterparts in northern France and the architectural heritage of these former mill complexes.


Sunday, Jan. 21, 1:30 p.m. Village Shaker, Puzzle Maker: Creating the Documentary Series Slatersville Filmmaker Christian de Rezendes presents his story of the decade-long process of creating his award-winning documentary series Slatersville: America's First Mill Village, which premiered on Rhode Island PBS in the fall of 2022. De Rezendes will share his journey from inspiration to research, filming, and editing, showcasing how telling the story of this village took a village.


Sunday, Feb. 4, 1:30 p.m. Making Art History In September 2023, more than 120 years after his passing, Providence honored gifted artist Edward Mitchell Bannister with a public statue. Hear about Bannister’s history and legacy from RIHS Executive Director Christiana Morgan Grefe, followed by sculptor Gage Prentiss detailing his inspiration and process in creating this tribute.


Sunday, Feb. 18, 1:30 p.m. Making History Alive: The Work of Historical Reenactors Living historians and reenactors do not simply buy and wear costumes that resemble the period. Reenacting requires a great deal of research, dedication, and hard work, particularly when returning to one of the country’s most difficult periods. Join Denise and Paul Bourget as they discuss the process of becoming Civil War reenactors.


Sunday, March 3, 1:30 p.m. Mille Après Mille and Making a New Franco-American Identity Based on his book Mille après mille, historian Pierre Lavoie takes a fresh look at how early 20th-century Francophone celebrities, such as Mary Bolduc Travers, Rudy Vallée, and Jean Grimaldi helped shape the collective identities of Francophones in Quebec and New England. Pierre Lavoie will be joining us remotely at the Museum.


Admission to the Valley Talks is free, but registration is required. Guests can register online at


The Museum’s 2024 Valley Talks series is presented by Amica Insurance, with additional support from the Museum of Work & Culture Preservation Foundation and the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park.