In the Harrison Room of the Redwood Library there stands a clock that was crafted by one of colonial America’s most well-known clockmakers: William Claggett. While few of his clocks are still in existence, they are remembered today for their craftsmanship and invention. According to an invoice in one of our manuscript collections, he even found time to accept an appointment by the Rhode Island General Assembly to engrave and print paper currency to prevent counterfeiting.
In early Newport society, many of the most prominent men belonged to the Redwood Library and their membership was later continued by their sons. It was clearly something of a family tradition to belong to and support the library, especially in the beginning, such as with the Banister family.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Since 1956, the large Irish population of Newport has celebrated the holiday with a parade through the streets filled with pipe bands, marching bands, and local organizations.While the parade is over this year, read along for an exploration of some of the history of the Irish in Newport.
March is Women’s History Month and this past Wednesday, March 8th, was International Women’s Day, which commemorates the movement for women’s rights. This year’s theme is Women in the Changing World of Work, highlighting the ongoing economic gender gap. To continue this theme, we are featuring a Rhode Island artist of enduring talent who spent most of her life working in obscurity and struggling against poverty and racism: Nancy Elizabeth Prophet.
The Redwood Annals have helped us recall valuable works in our collection that have been forgotten over time. We recently rediscovered within the Annals a list of books donated by Robert Johnston, who was very involved in the Library during his time in Newport. While many of them were rare and all of them were quite old, it was the first book on the list that caught our attention: “The Great or Bishops’ Bible. (Black letter.) 1572.” Donated by Johnston during a period in which the Library was still attempting to recover its losses from the Revolutionary War, Johnston’s donation was an example for other Newporters to follow, working to create a cultural knowledge center once again at the Redwood.
The month of March is Women's History Month. Our staff at the Redwood Library, to commemorate the occasion and its Thirty Year anniversary, has hand selected twenty books written by women. Come check out one of the books below and enjoy a piece of classic literature by many of histories great women writers.
Newport and the Irish go together almost as well as St. Patrick’s Day and corned beef and cabbage. The story of Irish Immigration into what is now Newport began in the 1600s as the new colonies started to grow. It wouldn’t be until the 1800’s that Newport would gain such a large population of Irish immigrants due to the Great Potato famine. They began working in coal mines in Portsmouth then with the introduction of the gilded age after the American Civil War, The Irish began to settle between the ports and lavish mansions of the Irish. Today it is called the fifth ward and still had quite the Irish heritage. Some living there can trace their ancestors back to the gilded age and even earlier. Come check out one of our great books and learn a thing or two about Irish history and their involvement in Newport and New England at large.
While working as a librarian at the Redwood Library, Frances Hubbert (1894-1967) also passionately pursued another project: securing the United States publication of Perfume from Provence (1935), a book by Lady Winifred Fortescue (1888-1951).
We have written in the past about the legacy of Sarah Bliss and her work cataloguing for the Redwood Library, but a recent addition to the Kaminski Handwriting Collection, a project by David Kaminski found at davidkaminski.org, connects her to a larger tradition of handwriting in libraries.
Black History month truly began in 1926 when a historian by the name of Carter Woodson announced that the second week of February would be “Negro History Week”. This week, chosen because it coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas, was used to coordinate teaching of black history in public schools. Though initially it had a lukewarm response it grew annually until 1976 when the leaders of the Black United students of Kent State University proposed to expand it to the entire month, a move the federal government would repeat the same year under President Ford. Today, Black History Month is celebrated in the United States and in Canada during the month of February and in the United Kingdom during the Month of October.