Booktalk: Revolutionary Spies

Christian presentation will include highlights from his Spies in Revolutionary Rhode Island book. He will talk about American spies who operated within British lines when the British occupied Newport from 1776 to 1779. He will also reveal the work of a talented female spy, Ann Bates, who passed to the British information relative to the Battle of Rhode Island in August 1778.  He will discuss the famous Culper Spy ring and its effort to convey to the Count de Rochambeau in Newport intelligence of a planned invasion of Newport by British forces against the newly-arrived French army in July 1781.


Christian McBurney is an independent historian who has written eight books, including four on the American Revolutionary War and four on Rhode Island (see Christian is also the founder and publisher of Rhode Island’s leading state history blog, the Online Review of Rhode Island History at  He resides in the Washington, D.C. area and has a second home in West Kingston, Rhode Island.

Creating the Future Today in History Education

A museum educator’s primary job is to build connections between life today and the past. It is the most rewarding aspect of my job. History comes to life for countless school students who visit the museum each year. My mission: help them connect their backyard, their neighbor’s last name, or the building they pass every day to America’s most historic moments. The current pandemic has emphasized how priceless in-person learning experiences really are.

Thanks to financial support from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, I have redirected my efforts while the campus is quiet. Christina Young returned to work remotely as a summer intern. Her insight as a recent graduate from the University of Rhode Island’s history program has been invaluable. Together, we have developed a plan for new online exhibits, collections, videos, and lesson plans to support the museum’s guiding principles to:

  • ignite curiosity by exploring the lives of people and the tools they used on the farm, at sea, in the mills and the villages of South County
  • offer accessible educational experiences and engaging exhibits and programs
  • encourage historical thinking that helps build connections between the past and life today

The first collection on the blacksmith trade will be available on our website starting the third week of September. We hope you will come to check it out because curious learners of all ages are sure to take away something new. Explore the life of Solomon Fayerweather, a third-generation blacksmith from the village of Kingston. Experience modern-day blacksmith Jim Crothers practice the craft in a taped demonstration. Come back often for new subjects! In November, new material on “Communication in History” will be available to inspire middle and high school students to search for a topic to participate in the 2021 National History Day competition this spring.

A new Education Committee has formed to guide the museum’s efforts to support history education for students in kindergarten to college. Committee members include Daryl Anderson, SCM Board President; Diane Nobles, Secretary, SCM board and Narragansett School Board Committee member; Erica Luke, Director, South County History Center; Sharon Webster, RILINK Professional Development/Technology Support Specialist, and retired Narragansett High School teacher; Christina Young, and myself.

We may be a small, local history museum by our role and responsibility in the community is monumental. The South County Museum links a student’s backyard to the world because all history starts locally.


The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities seeds, supports, and strengthens public history, cultural heritage, civic education, and community engagement by and for all Rhode Islanders.

McBurney shares South County’s WWII stories

Please join the folks at the South County Museum for a free Zoom lecture by local historian and author Christian McBurney on Sunday, May 31, 2020, at 7:00 PM.

The talk will last 45 minutes, after which Christian will be glad to take questions.

Zoom link: 

RSVP today to reserve your spot.

He will speak on South County related stories from his newly-released book, Untold Stories from World War II Rhode Island (History Press, 2019):

  • Did you know President George H.W. Bush trained in Charlestown to be a pilot?
  • What was it like to watch army patrols on Quonochontaug Beach?
  • Was there really an attack by a German submarine right here in Point Judith? (YES!!)

Christian McBurney, an attorney in Washington, D.C., has authored or co-authored seven Rhode Island history books and is the founder and publisher of the leading Rhode Island history blog, He currently resides in the Washington, D.C. area, after being raised in Kingston, R.I., attending South Kingstown High School, and obtaining his undergraduate degree from Brown University.

Rhode Island’s Lost Civil War Soldiers with Robert Grandchamp

Almost 500 Rhode Island’s Civil War soldiers were lost, never recorded for their service, and subsequent death. Robert Grandchamp’s latest book “Rhode Island’s Civil War Dead: A Complete Roster” provides each missing solider’s regiment, name, rank, and place of residence.

Robert Grandchamp is an award-winning author and researcher on Rhode Island’s Civil War history. He was born and bred in Rhode Island where he earned an M.A. in American History, as well as his B.A. in American History and Anthropology from Rhode Island College in Providence. Robert is the recipient of the Margaret B. Stillwell Prize from Brown University, the Order of St. Barbara from the Rhode Island National Guard, as well as letters of commendation from the governor of Rhode Island.

The South County Museum Civil War special collection is on exhibit in the Metz Museum.

Genealogy Workshop: Leveraging DNA Test Results

Get more out that DNA report and make the most of it. Dig deeper and knock down the brick walls to discover that missing great grandmother. This interactive workshop will be hosted by the South County Museum’s Assistant Director and Chief Genealogist, Heather Pouliot Kisilywicz.

Heather holds a certificate in genealogy from Boston University, is an enthusiastic member of the Rhode Island Genealogical Society, and a frequent lecturer around the state on DNA for genealogical research. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of Rhode Island and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Library and Information Sciences. 

This event is a collaborative offering with the Newport Public Library and the Rhode Island Genealogical Society. Reserve your spot today on Eventbrite

#Museumsathome help every age smile

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History has started posts of funny snail jokes that have helped put a smile on everyone’s face, not just 12-year-olds. If you are not familiar with the TikToks app, you may want to call for some assistance. Museums are continuing to find innovative ways to engage all ages and have even started to use the TikTok app, know for its dance videos, in ways that combine learning and fun. The hundreds of school students that tour the South County Museum each year will attest that our guides love to engage and enjoy some laughs while slipping in some education along the way.

Stay tuned for new ways the South County Museum will be engaging learners of all ages while having some fun with History at Home.

Looking for ways to feel connected, while maintaining a healthy distance?

What would you want future generations to know about your experience living in this moment with COVID-19?

Your stories are our history.

The South County Museum’s staff, board, and volunteers remain dedicated to researching, preserving, and celebrating Southern Rhode Island’s historic moments, including this one.

We are also committed to maintaining a healthy and safe environment in order to halt the spread of COVID-19. We are reducing transmission by working remotely and the museum’s campus will remain closed to visitors and volunteers until the right time presents itself to welcome you back; however, the museum is always here for you. If you have a matter that needs our attention, please do not hesitate to reach out via phone or email.

In the coming weeks, we will be offering new programming as the museum evolves to virtually collect, document, and exhibit history. Spend some time on our website, Facebook, and Instagram profile to take part in our community, share your stories, and experience how the past is relevant today.



Jim Crothers, Executive Director

Daryl Anderson, Board President