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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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The Matthews family published a series of newsletters from 1915-1917, which can be viewed in the Delivery Room at the Redwood. In the works, we've discovered a few Valentine's Day poems perfect for this time of year.

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mfarias

Pastor Henry N. Jeter's Twenty-five Years Experience with the Shiloh Baptist Church and Her History (1901) is part local history, part autobiography and provides us with an account of the Church's founding and his own life in Newport.

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mfarias

Of the 46 Original Proprietors of the Redwood Library, there are some that we know relatively little about, such as Simon Pease, who was one of the men that helped make the Redwood Library possible. Do we know anything else about him?

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mfarias

Robert Feke was a well-known colonial American portrait artist who worked in Newport, Boston, and Philadelphia in the mid-1700s. While he left behind several physical records of his life, namely his portraits, there is still a lot that is unknown about him, particularly the details of his early life before he became known as a painter, but there is a story that suggests he practiced his skills in some unusual circumstances.

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