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Mills Along the Blackstone Valley

Mills Along The Blackstone Valley

Interactives that show the dramatic impact mills had on Woonsocket, Rhode Island

For a century, the mills of Woonsocket, along the Blackstone River, manufactured everything from worsted wool, glass ornaments, to rubber tanks. The design challenge was to capture the stories of the people who worked at the mills and show how the landscape of Woonsocket changed over time as more and more mills vied for a place along the Blackstone River. This had to take place within an existing 600 sf gallery. Our research was conducted with a working group of RI Historical staff, volunteers, and the Museum Foundation. The study confirmed the project objectives and identified resources that were used in the final product.

MoWaC first presentation


There was no problem with attendance at the many workshops and project reviews. Here I am presenting the result of our first sprint to the full community, Rhode Island Historical Society staff, and foundation group.


Mills Along the Blackstone Valley content map

Function Diagram

The challenge presented to the team was to create an interactive that showed 25 mill locations evolved across five historical periods. That makes for 125 individual data points! We also were challenged to allow a maximum of four visitors to use the table simultaneously. One visitor might be in the 1800-1849 era, while another the 1950-1999 era.

Mills wireframe
Visual interface
Mill Memory database

Mill Memory Database

An outreach initiative by the Museum, names and stories of residents in the Woonsocket area were collected by the Museum, others were added by people who were descendants or had relatives who worked in the mills. For a small donation, they uploaded a picture and a short history to be accessible by visitors to the museum. Several dynamic interviews are featured as well. Select the image to see the animation.