Rhode Island has a new official state historian laureate. He’s former Providence College history professor Patrick Conley of Bristol, an expert on the state’s past.. Conley, the author of many books and essays on Rhode Island history and law, was appointed to the unpaid post by Secretary of State Ralph Mollis.
The position was created by the General Assembly. Mollis established a three-member search committee, which included Gwenn Stearn, state archivist, state librarian Tom Evans and Deputy Secretary of State Paul Caranci. Conley was the committee’s unanimous choice.
Conley has written and lectured extensively on such relevant Rhode Island history topics as the Dorr Rebellion, immigration, constitutional law, the history of the Roman Catholic Church and ethnic history.
Conley is a graduate of Providence College who earned his doctorate in history from the University of Notre Dame and was a history and constitutional law professor at PC from 1963 to 1988. He is also a lawyer who has been involved in Rhode Island political and community organizations for many years.