About Newport in the 1870s

In the 1870s, industrial Newport faced a crisis that threatened its economic base. Newport was a dispersed city in which property was brought quickly to the market rather than withheld from it, and rates of home ownership were remarkably high. These factors facilitated the emergence of discernible neighborhoods, from which flowed political implications. Newport was about one quarter Irish and one quarter German with a very small African American population. Both its Irish and German populations had established large numbers of cultural institutions, secular and religious, and these anchored spatial neighborhoods. The situation facing leaders in Newport in the early 1870s was grave, with a strike at the city’s largest single employer producing violent confrontations and pressure for federal troops to quell the disorder. As the municipal election of 1874 approached, Newport voters recognized that the economic future of their city was imperiled.

Using the Database

This database displays demographic and political details about almost every person who lived in Newport in 1870. You can see their age, sex, race, their relationship to slavery, their employment, where they worshipped and who they voted for.
Information will appear on an interactive map of Newport. Households that match your search criteria will be highlighted on the map in red. Click on the highlighted sections to see detailed information about who lived there. (If searching a business, the business location will be highlighted.)

There are three ways to search.

1. You can search for a social group.
e.g. Search for the freed African-American population by selecting Race and Freedom Status

2. You can search for a business.
e.g. Search for the largest employers by selecting Number of Employees

3. You can search for an individual by name. You can add additional information, such as race, sex or place of birth.

e.g. Search for “Patterson”
To narrow your search, select Place of Birth and select “Ireland”

Virtually any search combination is possible, but if you are using the database for the first time, it is suggested you begin by using only one or two search criteria. From there, you can begin to explore the city and the people that inhabited it.