Reference & Research Guidelines

The Newport Historical Society provides access to its collections for researchers through the policies outlined below. Our Resource Center remains closed to the general public, with limited in-person appointments available to researchers. For more information, please email or call 401-846-0813, ext. 190. Appointments are contingent on staff availability, the latest R.I. health guidance, and the availability of relevant resources within our collection.


Access Policy

The collections of the Newport Historical Society are held as a public trust for the benefit of present and future generations. As stewards of the collection, the NHS is responsible for properly protecting, preserving, maintaining and providing access to these collections. It is our policy that the collections will be available for publication, exhibition, interpretation and education, research, reproductions and derivative work. We will make our collections accessible to the general public to the greatest extent possible.

The NHS staff is not obligated to assist inquiries that involve excessive time or cost to the institution. The library and resource center are open on a limited basis to researchers by appointment only. Staff respond to inquiries in the order in which they are received. Historical Society members are given priority in making appointments for visits, which are contingent on the latest R.I health guidance, staff availability and the physical condition of the materials.


Access Fees

NHS Members* RI Residents* Students* Non-Members
Research Library
(secondary resources & genealogy)
Free Free Free $5/hour
Special Collections
(Archival, Photograph & Object Collections)
$5/hour $10/hour $20/day $10/hour
Staff Research, Assistance & Handling $50/hour $75/hour $60/hour $75/hour

*NHS Membership card, RI or student identification required.


Contact for Appointments

To inquire about an appointment to conduct research in the NHS collections, please contact

Appointments are made on a first come, first served basis, with preference given to NHS members. The NHS reserves the right to cancel appointments, or recommend remote research, based on staff availability, the latest R.I. health guidance, and the availability of relevant resources within our collection. All researchers must sign an acknowledgement of NHS research policies before being given access to our collections. It is strongly encouraged that researchers search our digital resources before visiting. Researchers are also encouraged to check our Reading Room Policies below to prepare for their appointment.



All researchers are required to fill out a Researcher Registration Form before conducting research at the NHS Research Library and Resource Center. Registration forms assist staff in identifying resources in the collection that may be applicable to research topics. Signed forms also serve as an acknowledgement that researchers have reviewed our research policies and agreed to adhere to those policies while working at the Newport Historical Society. The Newport Historical Society reserves the right to discontinue service to any and all patrons that violate these policies.


Ready Reference Policy

The ready reference policy refers to requests made via phone, email or mail that do not require a visit to the Newport Historical Society Research Library and Resource Center.

All service times are from the time in which payment for service is received, if payment is required.
Ready reference requests do not encompass surveys of collections or original research using collections materials. To have staff conduct original research, we charge a fee of $75/hour.
Staff will answer specific questions about the history of Newport county and resources in our collection without charging a fee. These are questions that can typically be answered with 30 minutes or less of staff research. Beyond that time, requests will be charged according to the fee schedule below.


Examples of ready reference questions include:

  • During what years did the British army occupy Newport during the American Revolution?
  • Who headlined the Newport Folk Festival in 1976?
  • Do you have a copy of my grandfather’s obituary? His name was John Smith and he died in 1980.
  • Do you have Newport town records from the year 1776?


Examples of research requests include:

  • What were the cultural and socioeconomic impacts of the British occupation during the American Revolution on the Newport community?
  • What role has the Newport Folk Festival played in the national folk music scene from its inception up to present day?
  • Do you have any information about my great, great grandparents?
  • Can you give me an overview of the contents of Abraham Redwood’s account books?


Please note that research requests require a research appointment or a fee of $75/hour for staff to conduct research.

Due to limited staff availability, it may take up to 7 business days to receive an initial reply to your request. Requests will be answered in the order in which they are received.


Reference and Research Fees*

Member Non-Member
Ready Reference Question Free Free
Staff Research $50/hour $75/hour
Digital Scan (condition permitting), hi-res $20/item $25/item
Digital Scan (condition permitting), lo-res $5/item $5/item
Photography** $50/hour $75/hour
Genealogy Service $50/hour $75/hour

*Postage will be added to fees when necessary.
**This fee will be charged if a work must be retrieved from storage or installation, or if an object from the Photo Archive requires more complicated photography preparation.


Invoice Payment

If you have been issued an invoice for research fees, you may pay the total due by mailing a check, calling NHS to process a credit card, or clicking the button below to pay online.


Reading Room Policies

All visitors who wish to utilize the collections at the NHS must adhere to the following policies while in the reading room and research library. We encourage you to closely review these policies prior to your visit to ensure that you are in compliance.


Patron Belongings

Jackets and coats are not permitted in the reading room or research library. All bags, including purses, handbags, backpacks and laptop cases must be stored prior to using materials. Notebooks, folders and other loose papers are not permitted, notepads and pencils will be provided. Absolutely no ink pens allowed. All personal items brought into the reading room and research library are subject to staff inspection on exit.



Personal laptops and tablets are permitted for note-taking, however, cases must be stored with other belongings. Mobile phones, pagers and other personal devices (i.e. Ipods) are not permitted in the reading room. Cameras and scanners are strictly prohibited. Reproductions, digital scans and copies are available, please see section below for more information. Limited wireless internet access is available in the reading room for research purposes only.


Food and Drink

Absolutely no food or drink is permitted in the reading room and research library. This includes gum, candy and cough drops. Water bottles and travels mugs are not permitted and must be stored with other personal belongings.


Photography Rules and Regulations/Reproductions

The Newport Historical Society’s special collections and archives may be photographed or photocopied by NHS staff only. We provide digital prints or scans of images and items from our collections for educational, commercial or personal use. Purchase of digital prints and scans does not imply permission to reproduce or publish these materials. For information on publication and exhibition of items from our collections please see Collection Use Policy below. We reserve the right to restrict photography of copyrighted, culturally sensitive or physically endangered materials.


Image Fees

NHS Members* Students* Non-Profit Non-Members
Photocopies $0.30/page $0.30/page $0.30/page $0.30/page
Digital Scan (lo-res) $5/item $5/item $5/item $5/item
Digital Scan (hi-res) $20/item  $20/item  $20/item $25/item
Photography** $50/hour $75/hour $75/hour $75/hour

*NHS Membership card or student identification required.
**This fee will be charged if a work must be retrieved from storage or installation, or if an object from the Photo Archive requires more complicated photography preparation.


Invoice Payment

If you have been issued an invoice for image fees, you may pay the total due by mailing a check, calling NHS to process a credit card, or clicking the button below to pay online.


Collections Use Policy (Publication, Exhibition)

All researchers who wish to use resources from the NHS collections for purposes other than study must adhere to the policies listed below.



Images from the NHS collections may be reproduced only with written consent of the Newport Historical Society. Permission is granted for one time, non-exclusive use only. All subsequent and additional use requests must be made in writing. Fees associated with publication and broadcast usage are available below.

Click here for our Permission to Publish form.


Examples of uses* requiring an additional fee:

  • Publication in a book or article.
  • Use as a visual aid in a public lecture or program.
  • Use in promotional materials for a public lecture or program.
  • Display in a museum exhibit.

*These are only some examples, additional fees may be required for uses not listed above.


Use Fees

Click here to view a detailed table of reproduction and use fees.



The Newport Historical Society does not own copyright on all collections in its holdings. Researchers who obtain permission to reproduce images are responsible for securing copyright from the persons or organizations that hold copyright. We will assist you in determining the copyright owner to the best of our ability. The charging of fees is based on the NHS’ physical ownership of images and not on copyright.


Citation Information

The primary goal of a citation is to provide the information needed for another researcher to locate your source. There is no single correct way to cite your sources, but there are a number of different citation styles that have particular formatting requirements, including APA, MLA, and the Chicago Manual of Style. There are several elements (listed below) that are commonly required when citing sources. Please be sure to record any relevant citation information during your research visit with us.


Common elements required for citations of books:

  • Author
  • Title
  • Publication information (city, publisher, year)
  • Edition
  • Page numbers


Common elements required for citations of periodicals:

  • Author
  • Title of article
  • Title of periodical
  • Date
  • Volume and issue number
  • Page numbers


Common elements required for citations of special collections materials (manuscripts, photographs, artifacts, etc.):

  • Creator/Author
  • Collection name
  • Item title or other descriptive identifying information
  • Date (if available)
  • Unique identifier associated with the material (if available)
  • Location information (box and folder numbers)
  • Repository (Newport Historical Society)

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