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Keep your eye on the ball during the 2019 What Cheer Day! The Rhode Island Historical Society’s annualliving history event continues its partnership with the Newport Historical Society in this joint History Space program which will highlight a diverse array of sports and games from 18th century Rhode Island.


On Saturday, June 1, 2019 at the John Brown House Museum, approximately 25 costumed historical interpreters will share leisurely pursuits with visitors. These family-friendly activities will include:

  • Bowls, the colonial version of bocce/boule.
  • Rounders, an early variation on the sport we know as baseball.
  • Games that soldiers enjoyed such as cricket.
  • Games that children played such as sack races, hoop and stick, along with battlecock and shuttledoor.


Various stations will feature children’s toys, gambling/horse racing, a midwife discussing how to treat sports-related injuries, and a trades person demonstrating leatherworking while making a dice cup. There will also be a ladies tea with lawn bowling, known as 9 pins in the 18th century, and a tavern illustrating various card games. Visitors can “step up to the plate” and try their hand at many of these activities while learning about life in early Rhode Island and how people spent their leisure time. Additionally, a series of dedicated/scheduled afternoon activities will include:

  • Dressing scenario in a lady’s riding habit.
  • Hairstyling and appropriate headwear for ladies when traveling.
  • Recreating a scene from a mid-18thcentury play about a popular card game.

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What Cheer Day is free and open to the public. It takes place rain or shine on Saturday, June 1, from noon to 4 pm on the lawn of the John Brown House Museum, 52 Power St., Providence, RI 02906. History Space is a Newport Historical Society initiative in partnership with the Rhode Island Historical Society.



About the Rhode Island Historical Society

Founded in 1822, the RIHS, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is the fourth-oldest historical society in the United States and is Rhode Island’s largest and oldest historical organization. In Providence, the RIHS owns and operates the John Brown House Museum, a designated National Historic Landmark, built in 1788; the Aldrich House, built in 1822 and used for administration and public programs; and the Mary Elizabeth Robinson Research Center, where archival, book and image collections are housed. In Woonsocket, the RIHS manages the Museum of Work and Culture, a community museum examining the industrial history of northern Rhode Island and of the workers and settlers, especially French-Canadians, who made it one of the state’s most distinctive areas.

About the Newport Historical Society

Since 1854, the Newport Historical Society has collected and preserved the artifacts, photographs, documents, publications, and genealogical records that relate to the history of Newport County, to make these materials readily available for both research and enjoyment, and to act as a resource center for the education of the public about the history of Newport County, so that knowledge of the past may contribute to a fuller understanding of the present. For more information please visit