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Bernon Helme Photograph Collection, 1895-1930

Historical note

The Bernon Helme Photograph Collection is a collection of photographic prints and negatives of the turn-of-the-century University of Rhode Island and the surrounding village of Kingston. The photographs are attributed to Bernon Helme, postmaster of Kingston in the 1880’s and 1890’s and an avid supporter of the establishment of an agricultural school and experiment station on Kingston Hill. There is no direct evidence linking the photographs specifically to Helme, either as photographer or collector. Clearly, some of the photographs could neither have been taken nor collected by Helme since they date from the 1950’s, long after his death. The envelopes and folders containing the photographs identify them as being from the Bernon Helme Photograph Collection and the collection has been given that title as a means of identifying it.

Helme was among a small group of individuals in Kingston who aggressively promoted a site in the village for the establishment of a state agricultural school and experiment station. Helme single-handedly raised $2,000 by private subscription toward the $5,000 purchase price of the 140 acre Watson farm on Kingston Hill, which forms the core of the current University of Rhode Island campus. The photographs in the Helme Collection document in images the university and of Kingston at the turn-of-the-century through the 1950’s.

Photographs of the campus include Boarding (South), Green, Lippitt, and Taft Halls, the Watson House, the quadrangle, Upper College Road, and a reunion of the Class of 1898. Also included are views of South and North Road bordering the campus. In addition, the collection includes images of the various members of the Helme family.