350th anniversary of Rhode Island's "lively experiment" in religious freedom
Dr. Conley has published twenty-four books, including Catholicism in Rhode Island: The Formative Era (1976),with Matthew J. Smith; 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 (1998) and The Bill of Rights and the States (1992), both with John Kaminski; Liberty and Justice: A History of Law and Lawyers in Rhode Island, 1636-1998 (1998); The Rhode Island Constitution: A Reference Guide (2007), with Justice Robert G. Flanders Jr.; and Rhode Island’s Founders, 1636-1790 (2010), as well as more than a score of scholarly articles on history, law, ethnic studies, religion, real estate development, and political science.
The youngest person ever to attain the rank of full professor at Providence College, Dr. Conley also practices law and managers a real estate development business. He has served as chairman of the Rhode Island Bicentennial Commission, 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. Dr. Conley was also chairman of the Rhode Island Bicentennial (of the Constitution) Foundation and chairman of the U.S. Constitutional 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–and he has served as its president since 2003.
In 2012 the Rhode Island General Assembly created the honorary position of Historian Laureate of Rhode Island. Pursuant to that statute, Secretary of State Ralph D. Mollis appointed Dr. Conley as the state’s first historian laureate.