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Inventing the Future

Historical Digital Newport (Schlichting, Reynolds, Gilberg)

Permalink for this paragraph 0 Title: Historical Digital Newport

Permalink for this paragraph 0 Authors: Kurt Schlichting, Professor of Sociology, Annaliese Reynolds, Student, and Ken Gilberg, Student, Fairfield University

Permalink for this paragraph 0 Fairfield University in collaboration with the Redwood Library & Athenaeum in Newport, Rhode Island (www.redwoodlibrary.org), created a digital web portal to view the history and social organization of Newport in the late 19th century.  The initial effort focuses on one period in Newport’s history – the 1880s.

Permalink for this paragraph 0 Newport, Rhode Island, founded in 1639 is among the oldest communities in the United States.  One of colonial America’s most important seaports, Newport played a prominent role in the history of the United States.  One of America’s first “resorts,” Newport served as a summer haven for the well-to-do beginning early in the 19th century. With the post Civil War industrialization new fortunes were created and Newport, the country’s preeminent summer colony, lured the wealthy during the Gilded Age.

Permalink for this paragraph 0 The Redwood Library and Athenæum was founded to propagate “Virtue, Knowledge and Useful Learning” as set forth in the original charter granted by the Rhode Island Assembly on September 4, 1747. The library building, the oldest portion designed by America’s first architect Peter Harrison, is an Official Project of Save America’s Treasures, a National Historic Landmark, and the oldest surviving library building in America.  The Redwood library collection includes extensive Newport historical materials.

Permalink for this paragraph 1 The project used Geographical Information System (GIS) software to recreate the historic street patterns of Newport in the 1880s.  The 1880 Census records for Newport were added to the digital maps locating residents to their historical addresses.  Photographs, drawings and historic materials from the collections of the Redwood Library and the Newport Historical Society are linked to the digital maps.  The photographs and materials, geographically located on the digital historic maps, provide an interpretation of the spatial structure and social organization of the city in the late 19th century.

Permalink for this paragraph 0 The website will be accessible at Fairfield University and the Redwood Library and will expand the Redwood Library and Athenaeum’s ongoing efforts to be a major resource for the public’s understanding and interpretation of the history and significance of Newport, Rhode Island.

Permalink for this paragraph 0 Website Components

Permalink for this paragraph 0 1.  Newport maps circa 1880

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  • “Birds-eye” map of Newport – Library of Congress
  • 1876 insurance maps
  • Digital street map – 1880 streets

Permalink for this paragraph 0 2.  1880  Census of Population

Permalink for this paragraph 0 Source:  The North Atlantic Population Project (NAPP – www.nappdata.org) at the University of Minnesota Population Center, funded by the NSF.  The 1880 Census records for Newport total 15,745.

Permalink for this paragraph 0 3. Historic Photos, Drawings and Materials

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  • Historical photos and drawings of colonial buildings, streetscapes and mansions
  • Background information about the architects of the major buildings and mansions
  • Brief biographical information for estate owners and links to more detailed biographical information (if available)
  • Biographical information on artists, writers, and intellectuals, and their books, letters, diaries, and paintings which draw on Newport as setting or subject.

Permalink for this paragraph 0 Other historical archives in Newport:

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  • Preservation Society of Newport County
  • Newport Restoration Foundation
  • Touro Synagogue National Historic Site
  • Newport Mercury newspaper
  • Newport Daily News newspaper
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