The South County History Center was originally founded as the Pettaquamscutt Historical Society in 1958 by a group of local residents interested in history and historic preservation. The Society drew its name from the 1658 Pettaquamscutt Purchase, in which settlers purchased 49 square miles from the Narragansett Sachems.
In 2015, the Society embarked on a comprehensive strategic planning process, possible thanks to generous support from the Rhode Island Foundation, in order adapt the Society’s strategies and practices to better meet the changing needs of our community. Through this community-focused effort, the Society developed a new vision for the future: to become a leading research and archival center dedicated to the preservation and promotion of South County’s rich and diverse history. To better represent this new vision, the Society began operating under a new name, the South County History Center, in May 2016.
Throughout its history, the Center has been engaged in historic preservation, presenting programs and exhibits to grow and deepen knowledge of our community’s unique history, developing an artifact and archival collection and providing access to these resources to encourage scholarly research and meaningful discussion of local history and its place within a national and international historical context.
The mission of the South County History Center is to lead the discovery and preservation of South County’s unique history. To achieve this goal, the Center preserves and interprets the material culture of South County through exhibits and study of archival, library and artifact collections. The Center’s collections focus on the domestic, social, business, and cultural life of South County from prior to the period of European arrival in Rhode Island through the present day. In addition to its efforts to preserve and interpret the history of South County, the Center is dedicated to the promotion of both scholarly research and professional development in the fields of museum work, library science, history, textiles, archaeology, and other fields that are relevant to its collections.