Newport Collection of Photographs

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 2:17pm -- mfarias

One of our fall projects here at the Redwood Library is to begin a new effort to catalog and digitize our Newport Collection of photographs. Our archives hold several boxes of photos that serve our researchers well when they come to visit, but there isn’t currently a way to get a complete idea of our collection without contacting a reference librarian. Every minor collection within the overall Newport Collection is summarized, but the individual photos are not yet cataloged, making it difficult to know exactly what each collection holds. With our work this coming season, we aim to see that the Newport Collection of photographs will finally be more accessible to both our librarians and our researchers. This blog post serves as an overview of the treasures we will be cataloging in the coming months.


Ogden Mills' Children, Photographs of Newport, ca. 1894. 
From the Collection of the Redwood Library.

J.J. Wysong Greywold/Greystone across from the Breakers, Photographs of Newport, ca. 1894. 
From the Collection of the Redwood Library.

Within the Newport Collection, there are 14 individual collections, ranging in size from just 4 photos all the way up to 192. This largest collection is a scrapbook of Photographs of Newport, ca. 1894. The photographer’s identity is officially unknown, but there are some scholars who believe it could be the work of Clarence Stanhope, whose photos of Newport can also be found at the Newport Historical Society.

Each page of the scrapbook features four photos of Newport, beginning with scenic nature views of Lawton’s Valley and moving on to include many familiar Newport sites such as the Cliff Walk, Washington Square, the Newport Casino, Trinity Church, the Old Stone Mill, Easton’s Beach, Fort Adams, Touro Synagogue, Marble House, Wakehurst, the Breakers, and more. The binding on the scrapbook is fragile and it will benefit greatly from having the photographs available digitally so that researchers can be sure of the photos they would like to see in person before turning its pages.

Washington Square, Photographs of Newport, ca. 1894. 
From the Collection of the Redwood Library.


Other photograph collections within the Newport Collection include the James Nicholson Photographs, ca. 1880s-1892 and Doorways and historic houses, ca. 1900. The James Nicholson Photographs were the gift of his son, John Nicholson, and include 36 photographs of Newport Harbor, sailboats, and some of the Newport mansions. The Doorways and historic houses collection focuses on smaller homes throughout Newport, identified by their addresses, on streets throughout Newport such as Broadway, Division, Pelham, Church, Poplar, etc. There is also a smaller Newport Houses and sites collection that was the gift of Natalie Nicholson and a collection of Photographs of Newport buildings and sites, ca. 1890-1895. When these are individually cataloged, finding the most useful collection for a specific site will be much easier.


Harbor View with Rockhurst, Photographs of Newport, ca. 1894. 
From the Collection of the Redwood Library.


Other bound collections include the Wyndham album, 1900-1947 and the Wakehurst Scrapbook, 1945. Each focuses on the estates after which they were named. Wyndham was the residence of Rosa Ann Grosvenor and in 1947 Dorothy Draper was the interior decorator. This album gives plenty of views into its interior design. The Wakehurst photographs were taken by Samuel Gottscho while Mr. and Mrs. James L. Van Alen were still living in the home. The estate was built for Mr. Van Alen in 1884 and the house is now owned by Salve Regina. There is also a separate collection of other photographs of Samuel H. Gottscho, 1920-1950. 

The smaller collections include four photographs of Charles Bird King’s studios, Newport RI, 1975-1984, Newport Views, ca. 1860-1870, which features 11 print scenes of Newport, 17 photos of the Original Breakers, ca. 1890, and 16 Stereographs by J.A. Williams, 1870s of houses in Newport. The final named collection in the group consists of 54 silver gelatin prints entitled Albert Levy’s Architectural Photographic Series 2 and 10, ca. 1880. These photographs cover areas outside of Newport as well as buildings within the city itself.


Redwood Library, Photographs of Newport, ca. 1894. 
From the Collection of the Redwood Library.


The several hundred photos that comprise the entire Newport Collection of photographs provide an invaluable resource for those studying Newport’s past and we hope to see them become even more useful once they are made more accessible through our efforts this fall. We’ll keep you updated on our progress!