Founded in 1978, the Narragansett Historical Society is the town’s only organization committed to preserving the rich history of Narragansett, Rhode Island. Led by a small army of volunteers, the organization documents the history of important structures, organizes tours of historic structures and serves as an expert resource for researchers.
Our mission is to promote the preservation of and education about Narragansett’s rich cultural and historical heritage.
The Narragansett Historical Society (NHS) was originally established in 1978 and conducted many wonderful programs and produced books to share the rich history of Narragansett with the public. In 1992 NHS experienced a hiatus as an organization, and although individuals conducted their own efforts toward preserving and sharing Narragansett history, the NHS ceased to exist as a recognized organization.
In 2011, in response to numerous inquiries, Town Manager Grady Miller sent a letter to people he knew had an interest in the town’s history. About 40 people attended an initial meeting, a Steering Committee was formed and began undertaking organizational tasks, including establishing a Board of Directors. Over time NHS has added key members to the Board and began identifying and working with a core group of Consulting Historians. We incorporated as a new historical society in May, 2012. We received our charitable organization status from the Internal Revenue Service (501c3) in March of 2014, retroactive to our incorporation date. Memberships and donations to the NHS are therefore fully tax-deductible.
Some of the more recent events the NHS has conducted include a House Tour and road race (through Gray Matter Marketing) in October 2013, hosted several historical talks, and attended numerous events to generate enthusiasm. In the spring of 2014 NHS undertook a strategic planning process.
NHS relies completely on the hard work of volunteers, the generous support of members and event attendees, and grants to operate. We hope you will consider becoming a member or sponsor of NHS and consider attending and/or volunteering at some of our upcoming events.
SUE BUSH: Secretary, Narragansett Historical Society. Sue Bush fell in love with Narragansett while in graduate school at URI, and was fortunate to eventually settle in Narragansett, where she and her family have resided for 17 years. Sue has an interest in preserving the history and charm of Narragansett. She works as an environmental consultant and enjoys running and cycling. Sue is also currently serving on the Board of The Narragansett Land Conservancy Trust.
SHIRLEY EASTHAM: President, Narragansett Historical Society. Shirley had a 25-year career with IBM in Boston, most of which were in administrative management. She served as Past President of the IBM Quarter Century Club. After taking an early retirement from IBM, she spent four years fund raising as a Loaned Executive to United Way. She relocated to Narragansett in 1986. Locally, she ran two small businesses, including Eastham & Associates, a consulting group. She served as Event Coordinator at Kinney Bungalow from 2004 through 2009. She served as a Board Member of the Narragansett Land Conservancy Trust from 2010 through 2014. Her primary interests are land conservation, historic preservation, town history, and town beautification. She loves living in Narragansett and particularly enjoys reading, writing, gardening, tennis, traveling, and socializing.
KATHIE KELLEHER: Vice President, Narragansett Historical Society. Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology with a minor in Archaeology. Born and raised in Rhode Island. After living in Connecticut and Europe, moved back and settled in Narragansett in 2000. Studied the history and culture of Narragansett before becoming the secretary of the Friends of Canonchet Farm in 2007.
HAROLD KEMBLE: Member, Board of Directors, Narragansett Historical Society. Harold and his wife Mary Ellen moved to Narragansett in 1976, and were involved in earlier “version” of the NHS. Harold has had an extensive career as an archivist and manuscripts curator. He began his career at The Nebraska Historical Society and completed an internship at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. He also worked at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, and the National Archives’ Office of Presidential Libraries. After a brief hiatus Harold has also worked for the Rhode Island Historical Society, and he has volunteered for The Narragansett Town Clerk’s Office, The South County Museum, and the Kingston Railroad Museum.
VILMA MOCLAIR: Member, Board of Directors, Narragansett Historical Society. A native Rhode Islander who returned in 1982 after many years bringing up her large family in New York and Connecticut. She has long had a love of this area’s history and beauty, and her 27 years as a professional full-time realtor has given her an intimate knowledge of the area’s structures. This, along with her interest in historic preservation and education, makes her a very welcome addition to the Board.
DR. ROBERT O’NEILL: Vice President, Board of Directors. After retiring from his obstetrics/gynecological practice at South County Hospital, Dr. O’Neill devotes his energies to many facets of our history. He served as the chair of the Narragansett Land Conservancy Trust for five years. He and his wife Linda lived at and restored the historic Ocean Road home, Dunmere Gatehouse, and placed it on the National Register of Historic Places. After many years in Narragansett, they recently moved to Saunderstown, where he serves on the North Kingstown Zoning Board. He is a frequent speaker on the history of the Hazard family in the local area.
DONNA B. RODGERS: Treasurer, Board of Directors. Donna is a native Rhode Islander, married to a native Rhode Islander and her three adult children also live in work here in Rhode Island. She has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rhode Island College and retired after nearly thirty years. Her nursing career was mainly in management and research. A lifelong armchair historian, she looks forward to contributing to the NHS and helping to preserve our history for generations to come.
RICHARD VANGERMEERSCH: Member, Board of Directors, Narragansett Historical Society. Emeritus Professor of Accounting from URI, he has lived in Narragansett since 1971. His expertise was in the history of accounting. In addition, he has been very involved with numerous organization’s histories as they celebrated milestones and anniversaries. Since his 2004 retirement, he has reoriented his research to Narragansett.