Item of the Month

Each month the Archives and Special Collections will be sharing a digital image and description of an item from its collection, including books, manuscripts, letters, photographs and ephemera. To schedule an appointment to see the item in person or for more information, please email me.

August 2021

Facsimile of handwritten protest (1680) by Roger Williams against the unofficial calling of a meeting, from the Early Town Records of Providence.

Original protest is held at the Rhode Island Historical Society.

handwritten protest by Roger Williams


From the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Roger Williams' A Key into the Language (1643) and more

Presenter: Anna Franz, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University
Videographer: Tubyez Cropper, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University

Watch more videos from the Beinecke Library at

 September 2021

Winthrop, John. Two lectures on comets, read in the chapel of Harvard-College, in Cambridge, New England, in April 1759. On occasion of the comet which appear'd in that month. With an appendix, concerning the revolutions of that comet, and of some others. By John Winthrop, Esq. Hollisian Professor of the Mathematics and Philosophy at Cambridge. Published by the general desire of the hearers. Printed and sold by Green & Russell, at their printing-office in Queen-Street [Boston]. Sold also by D. Henchman, at his shop in Cornhill, M.DCC.LIX. [1759].

Pamphlet, bound. 44, xviii pp. 8vo (22.5 x 14.5 cm ), missing half title.


Title page of pamphlet, "Lectures on Two Comets," by John Winthrop.

October 2021

First page of handwritten letter from William Lloyd Garrison to Messrs. George T. Downing, John V. DeGrasse, and Robert Morris, dated May 13, 1861, regarding Haitian emigration.

See complete letter here.

 Handwritten letter from William L. Garrison

George T. Downing (1819-1903), son of restaurateur and abolitionist Thomas Downing, was a civil rights leader and successful businessman himself. As a young man, George joined the anti-slavery movement and helped hide runaway slaves. In 1841 he married Serena Leanora DeGrasse, sister of John V. DeGrasse - another of the addressees in the above letter.

Following in his father’s footsteps George opened his own restaurant and continued advocating for racial equality. Later in 1854 he opened the Sea Girt House in Newport. He was a member of the 1855 Colored National Convention and in 1857 he began and financed a successful nine-year campaign to integrate public schools in Newport, Providence, and Bristol. During the Civil War, he managed the members’ dining room in the House of Representatives. In 1865, he and others financed the purchase of land for Touro Park in Newport. He continued to fight for civil rights until his death in 1903. In 2003 Downing was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame.

November 2021

Accounts of Bennet and Nathaniel Munro with Thomas Palmer1751.

Accounts of Bennet Munro

Single sheet (approx. 12¾" x 8") headed "A List of the sums that Bennett Munroe [sic] has credit for since the year 1751." Among the transactions listed on the first document is the transfer of a Negro boy from Bennet Munro to Thomas Palmer at Mount Hope in Bristol in 1766 for the price of 53 pounds, 6 shillings and 8 pence. 

The archives also has a second document (approx. 9" x 7¼") headed: "Messrs Bennet & Nathl Munro in acct. with Thos. Palmer," including "rent of Mount Hope Farm from April 6, 1766 to April 6, 1770, the time when N. Munro quitted."