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Russell J. DeSimone

Russell J. DeSimone is a native Rhode Islander. He grew up in Providence’s Italian American neighborhood of Federal Hill. Educated in the public school systems of both Providence and Cranston, he received the Sen. Anthony Prize in 1959. He graduated from Providence College in 1967 with a bachelorette in Mathematics.

Mr. DeSimone was employed in the defense industry in support of various US Navy submarine programs for forty-two years before retiring in late 2009. During his long career he was employed by Raytheon Company, Naval Underwater Systems Center, and numerous other defense contractors, finally retiring from Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). During his tenure he worked as mathematician, computer specialist, project manager, program manager and Vice President of Business Strategy and Development.

In 1978 he enlisted is the United States Army Reserve’s 76th Division (Training) and served until 1984.

From 2002 to 2009 he was an adjunct professor at the University Library, University of Rhode Island Kingston, RI. In this capacity he developed numerous talks and exhibits all pertaining to his interest in Rhode Island history. Exhibits included:

• “A Survey of 19th Century Rhode Island Billheads”
• “Rhode Island Lotteries – Three Centuries of History”
• “Voting and the Spirit of Democracy”
• “Picturesque Rhode Island”
• “Thomas Wilson Dorr – A Bicentennial Birthday Tribute”.

He has been involved in numerous civic organizations including: • 1989-1999 Library Committee, Rhode Island Historical Society
• 1990-1991 Board of Directors, Rhode Island Center for the Book
• 1990-1992 Publication Committee Chair, Dorr Rebellion Sesquicentennial Committee, RI Historical Society
• 1994-2014 Secretary and Trustee, Nathanael Greene Homestead Association
• 2014 -2015 President, John Russell Bartlett Society, also served as president from 1988-1989, 1989-1990 and 2010-2011
• 2015 Board of Directors, Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame
• 2015 Board of Directors, Rhode Island Publications Society

An avid student of Rhode Island history he has published a number of books and articles on the subject including:
• Broadsides of the Dorr Rebellion (RI Supreme Court Historical Society, 1992)
• The Dorr Rebellion Chronicled in Ballads and Poetry (Bartlett Press, 1993)
• A Survey of 19th Century Rhode Island Billheads (Bartlett Press, 2001)
• “Rhode Island Advertising Currency” (The Numismatist, July, 2009)
• Rhode Island’s Rebellion, (Bartlett Press, 2009)
• “Strange Bedfellows; The Politics of Race in Antebellum Rhode Island” (Common –Place, 2010)
• “Sidney Rider and the Business of Rhode Island History” (New England Journal of History, 2013)
• “Providence’s ‘Macaroni Riots’ of 1914” (Italian Americana, 2014)
• Remarkable Women of Rhode Island (History Press, 2014)
• “Newport County in the 1842 Dorr Rebellion” (Newport History, 2014)

He has also explored the new field of digital humanities in order to promote Rhode Island history including:
• A Survey of Rhode Island Election Tickets, University of RI ( )
• Dorr Rebellion Project, co-historian in residence, Providence College (

As an avocation Mr. DeSimone was a hand bookbinder. He studied under Mr.Daniel Knowlton from 1978 to 1980 and completed the requirements for the designation of craftsman. His instructor, Mr. Knowlton, was the head bookbinder at Brown University’s Rockefeller Library as well as proprietor of Longfellow Studios. Beginning in 1980 Mr. DeSimone conducted business as Russell J. DeSimone – Bookbinder. His services were provided primarily to the antiquarian book trade and special collection libraries. His specialty was the conservation of 18th and 19th century bindings in leather and publisher’s book cloth with attention to retention of a binding’s period and character. He conducted his bookbinding business in a part time capacity from his home bindery in Middletown, Rhode Island.

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