Redwood Journal

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Rhode Island has a varied past when it comes to the American Revolution. Riots in Newport during the Stamp Act Crisis in 1765, and the burning of the HMS Gaspee in 1772 were significant displays of protest in the face of British policy in the years leading up to the Revolution. When the War of American Independence began, Rhode Island struggled with trials and tribulations after it was the first colony to declare it's Independence in May of 1776. Newport was occupied by British Forces in December of 1776, and Aquidneck Island remained under their control for almost 3 years. This reading list explores the long and difficult history of Rhode Island during the American Revolution, using Biographies, Diaries (of Americans, British Officers and others) and other forms of text, creating a comprehensive array of books. While the history of Rhode Island during the Revolution tends to be glossed over in many texts, it should not be forgotten, but instead studied, and understood better. This reading list will provide the materials to make that happen.

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It was in this coming week, in 1780, that General Rochambeau arrived in Newport with around 6,000 French soldiers under his command, signaling to many the beginning of the end of the Revolutionary War. He remained at Newport through 1781, when he joined forces with George Washington’s troops at the Battle of Yorktown.

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Fort Wolcott was the primary fort protecting Newport, Rhode Island from 1703-1836. Over the years it had many names and served different military forces, later aided by the United States Army Hospital on site. The collection we are featuring today consists of one incredibly detailed meteorological diary maintained by the US Army Hospital at Fort Wolcott on Goat Island in Newport Harbor.

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One of the portraits we have in our collection by the well-known painter Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) is of Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse (1754-1846). According to reports, the young Waterhouse, who was born in Newport, spent some time reading medical books at the Redwood Library. He went on to become part of the first faculty of Harvard Medical School and an early experimenter with the smallpox vaccine.

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It’s the weekend before the Fourth of July, which means it is time to prepare your homemade fireworks! Well perhaps we wouldn’t recommend that, but we did find a book in our vault that could help if anyone were so inclined.

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The struggle for colonial independence in Rhode Island has one of its anniversaries this weekend, which marks 245 years since the burning of the Gaspee. An armed schooner in the King’s army, the Gaspee first appeared in the waters of Narragansett Bay in March 1772. By June 9, 1772 it had been destroyed by an anonymous group of Rhode Islanders who were never punished.

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Our collection of historic maps provides us with very different perspectives of early Newport, with each map influenced by the point of view of its creator. The map featured here, for example, is a military plan, drawn in August 1778 by Michel Capitaine du Chesnoy (1746-1804).

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Eric Arthur Blair, known to readers as George Orwell, is widely known for his thought provoking titles such as Animal Farm, and 1984. Who was George Orwell, and what inspired him to write the stories that have inspired thought and questioning for many generations? This Reading List will sample some of Orwell's books, his personal writings, and provide an in-depth look into the life of the sometimes controversial author. Also, the writings and history of some contemporaries of George Orwell will be available to stimulate the mind as we peer into the world of dystopian stories.

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Landscaping at the Redwood has been a process through several periods of war, recession, and renewal in Newport, culminating in the large landscaping project that began in 1934 and remains part of our grounds today.

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On Saturday, June 10, The Redwood Library with host our Fourth Annual History Seminar titled Colonial Classics: The Redwood Library & American Architecture in the 18th Century. This year will see experts in colonial architecture discuss a wide range of topics that will include the Redwood Library as ‘Temple of the American Enlightenment,’ the anxiety of influence in Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Giambattista Piranesi’s heroic vision of ancient Rome as an inspiration for American architecture, and the contingent influences of British public architecture on the built environment of colonial American cities. Even if you are unable to attend the event be sure to come into the Redwood and check out some of the fantastic works on architecture and preservation below on our display table and in the Pell-Chafee Architecture collection.

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