Handwritten History: Correspondence of Great Americans is a new exhibit that will continue through the fall at the 1739 Colony House on Washington Square in Newport. The exhibit features large-scale reproductions of 11 letters and documents from the collections of the Newport Historical Society. All the items were written by or were about famous individuals or events from American history.
Authors in Handwritten History include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Documents are signed by Abraham Lincoln, James Monroe and John Quincy Adams. The most famous letter in the collections is a 1787 letter from Thomas Jefferson to his nephew, Peter Carr, which offers a rare and surprising glimpse into his views on religion.
Some of the correspondence on display has a Newport connection. One is a letter from President John Adams to the inhabitants of Newport dated May 28th,1798. Another is a firsthand account of the events leading up to the Boston Tea Party written by Newport resident Peleg Clarke.
“The letters in the Society’s collections provide fascinating and intimate behind-the-scenes glimpses into American history,” explained Sarah Vickery, who curated the exhibit for the Newport Historical Society. “As Jefferson wrote,
they have ‘all the advantages of Conversation, with the Additional ones of searching deeper into subjects.’”
Handwritten History is sponsored by BankNewport.
Other showcases by the Newport Historical Society this summer include:
- A costume exhibit featuring 19th century men’s clothing. It will open on Saturday, July 31, at the 1739 Colony House. A living history program will be held 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to portray an 1813 recruiting station for the War of 1812 against Britain. A recruiting officer will ask visitors (naval recruits) a series of questions to learn if they would make good sailors. An officer or surgeon’s mate will “examine” the recruits.
- Tooth and Bone, an exhibit featuring Rhode Island scrimshaw and miniature portraits on ivory at the 2010 Newport Antiques Show. This will be held August 13-15 at the nearby St. George’s School in Middletown.
[Image: Newport Historical Society]