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Newport Historical Society is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a $52,000 grant from the van Beuren Charitable Foundation. This grant will enable NHS to move forward with the public-facing platform of their Know Your History project: “Finding and Building BIPOC Biographies from the Archives of the Newport Historical Society.” 

From the founding of Newport, Rhode Island in 1639, to the year slavery was officially banned in the state’s constitution in 1843, the city engaged in and profited from systemic slavery. In an effort to bring forward the names and stories of individuals of African and Indigenous descent who lived in Newport during this period, NHS staff and fellows have been mining the archives for data from a varied collection of materials. These include the records of the African Union Society and the African Humane Society (1787-1810), the manumission records of the Religious Society of Friends (1718-1827), indenture documents, custom house records, ship logs, estate records, medical documents, and merchant papers.

NHS is committed to offering new content on Newport’s rich and diverse history both through our traditional avenues and through new digital offerings. The history of Newport County should rightfully include the stories of the original inhabitants of this area—primarily the Narragansett and Wampanoag nations – people of African descent – enslaved and free – waves of immigrants, women, people of any economic status, and those who were otherwise marginalized for any reason.

In addition to Newport Historical Society’s scholarly projects aimed at increasing the visibility of Newport’s BIPOC population; NHS is pleased to announce that on Sunday, June 19th NHS will ring the bell at the Colony House at 12 pm, in honor of Juneteenth. 

During the pandemic, NHS staff rang the bell weekly to show our solidarity with the Newport community. This week we will do the same, in honor of Newport’s African American community.

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