The Brown Center for Public Humanities and students in the public humanities program work with the stewards of the Governor Stephen Hopkins House Museum on interpretation and furnishing of the house and care of collections and archives. The Hopkins House is owned by the State of Rhode Island and has been administered by the National Society of Colonial Dames since 1927. The modest building at 15 Hopkins Street in Providence was the home of Governor Stephen Hopkins, politician, merchant, and signer of the Declaration of Independence; Sarah and Anne Hopkins; their children; and at least six enslaved persons.
In 2009, Montana Blanco, a student in the Public Humanities program and recipient of the Fellowship for the Study of the Public History of Slavery, conducted research to augment existing information about the lives of enslaved persons in the house. In 2010, students in the course, “Shrine, House or Home: Rethinking the Historic House Museum,” researched and created a comprehensive reinterpretation of the site, focusing on the lives of these slaves, titled InDependence: Liberty, Slavery & Choice at the Stephen Hopkins House. As part of the same course in 2011, a new group of students created a plan for interpretation titled, Full House: Domesticity in the Hopkins Family Home. Both of these plans continue to inform the ongoing interpretation of the house.
In 2011, students created an exhibit of 18th and 19th century samplers, and included their own “Subversive Samplers,” which demonstrated the types of ideas and emotions women who lived and worked in the Hopkins House may have kept silent.