Newport Historical Society

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Interior of the Newport Historical Society Headquarters in the old Seventh Day Baptist Meetinghouse
Sabbatarian Meeting House, built in 1729 by Richard Munday (rear Newport Historical Society building today)

The Newport Historical Society is a historical society in Newport, Rhode Island that was chartered in 1854 to collect and preserve books, manuscripts, and objects pertaining to Newport's history.

History of the society[edit]

Naval battle off Tatamagouche - Cannons from Captain Fones' ship Tartar, Newport Historical Society
Sabbatarian Meeting House, built in 1729 by Richard Munday (rear Newport Historical Society building today), now encased in brick
front Newport Historical Society library building today
The Old Brick Market building currently houses the society's Museum of Newport History

Although the society was chartered in 1854, its collections originated thirty years earlier as the "Southern Cabinet" of the Rhode Island Historical Society, which was founded in 1822. By 1853, several prominent Newporters, including William Shepard Wetmore, recognized the need for a separate organization specifically devoted to preserving the history of Newport County, and the collections of the Southern Cabinet were reorganized under the auspices of the Newport Historical Society.[1]

Ground was broken in 1902 for a brick library building at 82 Touro Street, which would be attached to the Sabbatarian Meeting House (previously acquired by the society). The new building provided office space for the society, a fireproof vault for historic documents, and a library. In 1915, the meeting house was detached from the library and moved to the rear of the lot. A three story brick building was constructed between the library and the meeting house. Brick veneer, a slate roof, and steel shutters were added to the exterior of the meeting house to make its exterior covering consistent with the adjoining structures, and to provide added protection from the weather and the threat of fire.[1]

The society features changing exhibits and has extensive holdings of colonial, silver, china, portraits, ship models, and over two hundred thousand historic photographs. Research facilities include archives with manuscript materials including the earliest town records, merchant account books, church records, etc. The library contains the second largest genealogical collection in Rhode Island. Walking tours leave from the Museum of Newport History.[2]

Properties[edit]

Collections[edit]

  • Museum collection
  • Photographs and graphics collections
  • Library collections

Special library collections[edit]

The major categories of library special collections at the Newport Historical Society are:

  • Business records
  • Maritime records
  • Church records [3]
  • Family papers
  • Diaries and journals
  • African-American history
  • Municipal records
  • Other collections

References[edit]

External links[edit]