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Rhode Island's Islands

Biographical or Historical Information

Under the sponsorship of the Rhode Island Historical Society and the Jamestown Historical Society and a grant from the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities, Linda Wood and Michael E. Bell interviewed residents of Conanicut Island (Jamestown), Prudence Island, and Block Island during 1985 and 1986. A total of 64 interviews were conducted with residents whose ages ranged from 55 to 98.

An eight page newspaper format publication, Island Voices, was distributed to 100,000 Rhode Islanders and visitors during the 1986 summer season to promote the project.

The principal investigators, Wood and Bell, aided by two historians and a cultural anthropologist, attempted to define the Islands culturally and socially, rather than geographically, through oral history. The universal appeal and mystique surrounding island life prompted the investigators to challenge the islanders to reflect on how their lives differ from these ideals and how their lives have been enriched or diminished by their island life.