On this day in history, April 7, 1780, William Ellery Channing was born in Newport, Rhode Island. A prominent Unitarian preacher, his family’s roots in Newport extend back to the beginning of the 18th century through a series of influential men named “William Ellery.”
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.
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.