Dr. Patrick T. Conley holds an A.B. from Providence College, an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame with highest honors, and a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School. He has published twenty-six books, including Catholicism in Rhode Island: The Formative Era (1976), Democracy in Decline: Rhode Island’s Constitutional Development 1775–1841 (1977), An Album of Rhode Island History, 1636–1986 (1986), The Constitution and the States (1988), The Bill of Rights and the States (1992), with John Kaminski, Liberty and Justice: A History of Law and Lawyers in Rhode Island, 1636–1998 (1998), and The Rhode Island Constitu­tion: A Reference Guide (2007) with Justice Robert G. Flanders, as well as more than a score of scholarly articles in history, law, ethnic studies, religion, and political science.

The youngest person ever to attain the rank of full professor at Providence College, Dr. Conley also practices law and manages a real estate development business. He has served as chairman of the Rhode Island Bicentennial Commission (ri76), chairman and founder of the Providence Heritage Commission, chairman and founder of the Rhode Island Publications Society, and general editor of the Rhode Island Ethnic Heritage Pamphlet Series. In 1977 he founded the Rhode Island Heritage Commission as a successor organization to ri76. Dr. Conley was also chairman of the Rhode Island Bicentennial [of the Constitution] Foundation and chairman of the U.S. Constitution Council. In May 1995 he was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame — one of a handful of living Rhode Islanders who have been accorded that honor.

Presently he is president of the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame, president of the Heritage Harbor Museum, and chairman of the Rhode Island Senior Olympics.

Pat, who is the father of six children and the grandfather of seven, lives in Bristol, Rhode Island with his wife Gail and their dog, Bridget.

Bridget, Pat and Gail Conley Bridget, age 1, with Pat and Gail Conley at the blessing of their wedding, September 1, 2009
Pat and Gail host Robert Redford Pat and Gail Conley host Robert Redford at Gale Winds
Pat and Gail at Rosecliff Mansion Pat and Gail at Rosecliff Mansion. Pat was the chairman of the Bicentennial of Rhode Island Statehood and Gail, the co-chair of the Statehood Dinner held on May 29, 1990.
Pat and Gail at Dock Conley Pat and Gail at the entrance to Dock Conley with three small cruise ships in the background

Pat Conley addressing the audience at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet in 2003 Pat Conley addressing the audience at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet in 2003 at his first Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame induction ceremony as Hall of Fame president

family 2004 Front Row Seated (l. to r.): Pat’s daughters, youngest to oldest: Colleen, Sharon, Carolyn, and Kathleen. Back Row (l. to r.): Son Tommy, Pat’s only nephew, Bill Conley III, Pat, Debbie (Pat’s daughter-in-law), her husband Pat Jr., and Jim Hanlon, Sharon’s husband.


Pat and Gail Conley were the major donors and patrons of the
Rhode Island Famine Memorial on the Providence waterfront.
Irish famine memorial monument
Irish famine memorial statue
Irish memorial stone
Irish memorial stone

Rhode Island’s Colorful Historian Laureate

by J. Michael Levesque

I have yet to meet anyone who knows Dr. Pat Conley and doesn't have an opinion of him. Words like colorful, brilliant, acerbic, learned, rabble rouser, persistent, community leader, and witty usually top the list. Sprinkle in some more unprintable verbiage, and you have the essence of one of the most dynamic individuals Rhode Island has ever seen.  Read more >