Local History

microfilm research

Rhode Island Newspapers

The library has back issues of the following local newspapers:

  • Newport Daily News (1846 to the present) (microfilm)
  • Newport Daily News (1846-1977) (online through Newspapers.com; sporadic coverage)
  • Newport Mercury (1758-1846) (online through Newsbank)
  • Newport Mercury (1829 – 1863, missing years in the 1840’s) (microfilm)
  • Newport Mercury (1835 – 1935, missing some dates) (bound volumes)
  • Providence Journal  (1973 – 2015) (microfilm)
  • Providence Journal (1983 – present) (online through Newsbank)

Historical Newspapers – Online

Early Rhode Island newspapers are available online through Newsbank. Included in this resource are:

  • Newport Mercury (1758-1842, missing some years)
  • Newport Herald (1787-1791)
  • Providence Gazette (1762-1825)

The Newport Daily News Index

The library staff has created an in-house, automated index to the Newport Daily News from mid-1996 to the present. This index can only be used on library computers in the Adult Reference area.

Newport City Directories

Historical directories for the City of Newport are shelved in the library’s special collections room and open to anyone for in-house use. Though we do not carry a full run, many editions from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are available. Check the catalog record to determine if a specific year is available.
Often overlooked, historical directories are a great resource for historians and genealogists. Some of the information they provide:

  • A person’s address and occupation
  • Reverse address lookups
  • The location of specific streets
  • The officers of a corporation and the partners in a firm

Historical Preservation Reports

Published in the 1970s and 80s, these historical preservation reports were scanned from copies in our Special Collections. They provide unique information about historic buildings and neighborhoods in Newport. All these reports and more are also available at the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission’s website.


Kay-Catherine-Old Beach

Southern Thames

Southern Thames Street

West Broadway study

West Broadway


Property Research Guide

Newport Public Library and its partner institutions in the area provide many items useful to local residents interested in tracing the history of their home. If you would like to learn when your house was built, who has lived there, or what changes previous owners made to the property, the resources identified in this document can get you started.

Historical Photographs on Flickr

Greystone on Ochre Point Avenue, 1883

Greystone on Ochre Point Avenue, 1883

NPL Historical Pictures is a collection of historical photographs of places in and around Newport, Rhode Island. Most were taken by Clarence Stanhope, photographer, and donated to the library by the Newport Historical Society. We encourage you to take a look at these wonderful old pictures and leave a comment if you have any more information to add. For publication or display-quality copies of these photographs, please contact the Newport Historical Society.
Also check out Providence Public Library’s Rhode Island Photography Collection. Available for browsing online, PPL’s image database includes 2000+ photos of Newport. Search for a specific location or event, or browse by item type (postcards, architectural drawings, etc.) or subject (Naval Station Newport, William Vanderbilt, etc.).