The Tale of the Clam

Continuing my interest in highlighting the wide-ranging interests of our researchers, I'd like to draw your attention to a hilarious blog post by our friends at and the Quahog Annex blog. (Side note - if you don't already frequent this site, I implore you to do so as it's a fantastic balance of educational information, travel tips and humor.)  


Back in August, they wrote a fun post on clamcake humor (only in Rhode Island would this be a thing) and referenced a book titled The Tale of the Cliam, an historical reminiscence of Rhode Island, explaining the true origin of clambakes by "Two Providence Boys", published in 1883 by Tibbits, Shaw & Co in Providence.   After this entry, they contacted the Rhode Island Collection for a full scan of the work as we are one of the few libraries to still hold a copy in our collections.  Because the work is out of copyright, we were happy to oblige. 


They've followed it up with a full scan of the entire work with annotations.  It's really remarkable how much research they've done to identify the two anonymous authors.  The book of verse and illustration celebrates the history of the clam with a silly, culturally insensitive, and definitely inaccurate version account of the introduction of clams to the diet of the colonists.   But enjoy it for what it is - a humorous 19th century tidbit.  









kwells's picture
Kate Wells

As the Rhode Island Collection librarian at Providence Public Library, Kate Wells helps bring Rhode Island history to light by increasing access to the collection and providing research assistance to patrons. In the “Rhode Island Red” blog, Kate showcases interesting materials from the collection, provides research tip & techniques, and highlights local history. Feel free to contact her if you have any Rhode Island related questions; she is always happy to help. Email:


Post new comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options