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 and the Heritage Harbor Foundation, and is serving as the first Historian Laureate of the State of Rhode Island.