Edward W. Kane Library & NHS Collections

Our Collections

The Newport Historical Society holds intensely significant collections of documents, artifacts, fine arts and crafts, and photographs encompassing the five centuries of social and cultural diversity that makes Newport County unique.

In addition, the Edward W. Kane Library of the Newport Historical Society collects books, articles and research on all aspects of Newport County history, with particular strength in genealogy, property ownership, architecture and decorative arts. For this reason, the library is often the first stop for research inquiries at NHS.

Search Our Collections Online

Search & Discover

Please note, only a portion of our holdings are available online

Contact us for more information about our full collection.

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Photographs & Graphic Materials

The two-dimensional collections of the Newport Historical Society include photographs in all formats, postcards, prints, architectural plans and drawings, and maps. Of these, the photograph collection is by far the largest, comprising over 300,000 images dating from the 1840s to the present.

View our collections online here.

Manuscripts & Archives

The Newport Historical Society’s manuscript collections consists of more than 1,500 linear feet of manuscript materials, including merchants’ records from the 18th to the 20th century, church records for fourteen congregations, log books for dozens of ships, family papers for hundreds of Newporters, an extensive African-American history collection, town and city records, and a unique collection of diaries and journals.

View our manuscript index online here.

Objects & Artifacts

NHS holds extensive collections of fine and decorative arts, furniture, musical instruments, textiles and clothing, artifacts of everyday life, and architectural fragments, with particular strength in the 18th century.

View our collections online here.

Genealogy & Biography

Genealogical and biographical research is supported by the library and special collections at the NHS. An important section of the library collection includes published biographies, autobiographies, diaries and journals of prominent New England personalities who had an important role in the founding and growth of Newport County and Rhode Island. The lives and writings of politicians, military heroes, theologians, and merchants are well represented in this growing collection.

The collection also includes census data and other indexes to Newport residents, occupations, and land use, as well as works on English and European families with known and suspected ties to early Rhode Island.

Property Research

The library and special collections at NHS hold extensive resources for researching properties in Newport, including colonial land evidence, deeds, building surveys, photographs, city atlases and directories.

Visit our Museum

View a selection of the Society's collections on display in our Museum.

More Info

Digital Resources

Check out our Digital Resources; online exhibits, finding aids, interactive sites and more!

Quick Guide for Research

  • Access

    You must make an appointment to access our collections.

  • Fees

    Library appointments are $5/hour. Appointments to see photographs or manuscripts are $10/hour.

  • Reading Room

    All personal belongings must be stored in lockers. Food, drinks and pens are forbidden.

  • Photography

    Photography is not permitted. Staff will provide images by request. $5 for lo-res, and $25 for hi-res.

  • Image Use

    Images from the collection may be reproduced only with written consent of the NHS.

  • Staff Research

    Can't come in-person? NHS staff can conduct research on your behalf for $75/hr. The first half hour is free.

  • Member & Student Rates

    Some research-related costs are reduced for students and NHS members.