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Donations to the Collection

What does the Newport Historical Society collect?

It is the mission of the Newport Historical Society to collect and preserve the artifacts, photographs, documents, publications and genealogical materials that relate to the history of Newport County, encompassing Newport, Middletown, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton and Jamestown. The collections of the Newport Historical Society consist of historical structures, properties and objects, including, but not limited to: coins, paper currency, medals; photographs; fine and decorative arts; costume and textiles; maps and architectural drawings; books, periodicals, and other printed materials; and manuscripts.

The Newport Historical Society evaluates potential donations based on the following guidelines:

  • Is the object useful to the mission and collecting priorities of the Society?
  • Does the object have aesthetic merit, possess potential for research and scholarship or have other historical or cultural significance?
  • Is the object useful for exhibition purposes?
  • Can the object be properly conserved, stored, protected and preserved within the resources of the Society?
  • Does the object have free and clear title?
  • Can the authenticity and provenance of the object be proven/documented?
  • Does the donor hold copyright for the object that can be transferred to the Society?

Please contact Bridget Newton, Registrar, bnewton@newporthistory.org, before delivering any materials to the NHS to ensure that your items are within the scope of our collecting policy.

Click on the links below to navigate to the corresponding sections of this page:

How to Donate to the NHS Collections
Appraisals and Research
FAQ for Commonly Donated Items

How to donate to the NHS collections

If you are interested in donating an item to the collection of the Newport Historical Society, please return the following criteria to Bridget Newton, Registrar, bnewton@newporthistory.org:

  • Completed Pending Acquisition Questionnaire
  • Clear, color photographs of the item, including views of the front, back, signature/maker’s mark and any areas of condition concern
  • Any paperwork to verify the item’s provenance, ex. Certificate of authenticity, appraisal

In some case, NHS collections staff may wish to view an item in person before presenting it for approval to the Collections Committee.

All additions to the collections of the Newport Historical Society must be approved by the Collections Committee, which meets quarterly, in March, June, September and December. All inquiries regarding donations must be completed by the first of the month in which a committee meeting occurs in order to be included on the agenda.

All donations to the collections of the Newport Historical Society are considered tax-deductible charitable donations.

Please contact Bridget Newton, Registrar, bnewton@newporthistory.org, before delivering any materials to the NHS to ensure that your items are within the scope of our collecting policy.

Appraisals and Research

The Newport Historical Society is unable to provide a financial appraisal of any historical item. However, we would be happy to assist you in researching the historical context and significance of your object.

For more information about our reference and research services, please click here or contact Sarah Long, Manager of Academic Services, slong@newporthistory.org.

Click here for more information about our current collections.

FAQ for Commonly Donated Items

Does the NHS collect family Bibles?

The Society maintains a large and important collection of family records, many of which are family Bible records. These records are considered primary sources of vital statistics often having the same legal status as a birth, marriage or death certificate from the City’s clerk.

Bibles are a valued family heirloom, however, space requirements prohibit the Society from maintaining a collection of Bibles. The Holy Bible was, and still is, the most frequently published book in the world with many editions and imprints still surviving. Bible donations will only be considered if they were owned by someone of historic importance or contains historical information of note. For those reasons when we receive a Bible, we first inspect it to see if the book has any historical or antiquarian value. If it does, the book will be maintained as it is.

If the Bible does not have any historical or antiquarian value, the family records are extracted from the book, and stored in acid-free folders in our vault. These records can include, the title pages, marriage and death records, engravings, maps and illustrations, manuscript entries, any dried flowers, clippings, bookmarks, poems – anything that makes the book unique to its owners.

After the removal of the unique material, the remaining Scriptural text of the bible will be discarded.

Because Bible records are original, primary sources the Society is interested in maintaining that material. If this policy is not agreeable, arrangements to have the family records photocopied and used as reference material for the many researchers, scholars, and genealogists who visit our library.

Does the NHS collect copies of original photographs?

The Newport Historical Society maintains a photograph collection containing more than 200,000 images from the 1840s until the present day. The photograph collection is heavily researched by a wide range of individuals from academic scholars to local Newport residents exploring the history of their homes. In many of these cases, researchers do request copies of images in the collection. As such, the NHS seeks to obtain the copyright to all images in our collections to ensure that we can provide for such requests. As a result, in most cases, we do not accept copies of original photographs or other graphic materials into the collection because we cannot in good faith provide adequate access to such materials.

Does the NHS collect newspaper clippings?

Much of the historical value of newspaper articles comes from the context in which they were published. Identifying information, including newspaper title, author, photographer, etc. is also necessary to establish the provenance of information. The NHS does not usually accept clippings without this contextual information.

What does NHS do with duplicates of published material?

In the case of published material and reproduced artwork, the NHS will retain two copies of any work.