Finding Aids

Laurence E. Tilley Photograph Collection

The collection includes 197 black and white photographs of residential architecture and street views in Providence, Rhode Island taken by Lawrence E. Tilley in 1958. The photographs document the College Hill neighborhood.

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Rhode Island Postcard Collection

The Rhode Island Postcard Collection is part of the Rhode Island Collection at the Providence Public Library.

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Rhode Island Stereocard Collection

The Rhode Island Stereocard Collection contains stereograms with images related to geographic locations, buildings and organizations in the State of Rhode Island as well as various miscellaneous images found with the collection.

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John Hutchins Cady Research Scrapbooks Collection

The collection consists of eleven scrapbooks created by John Hutchins Cady, an architect, architectural historian, preservationist and urban planner. The scrapbooks are organized topically and include photographs, postcards, clippings and Photostats of buildings of architectural interest in Rhode Island with a strong emphasis on the City of Providence. Cady was the youngest son of John Hamlin Cady of Providence. He graduated from Brown University in 1903 and from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1906. Before opening his own architectural firm in 1910, he worked for the Providence firm of Stone, Carpenter and Wilson. He served as the Rhode Island Preservation Officer from 1955-1960 and was a consultant on the Rhode Island State Planning Board Maps. He was an active member of the American Institute of Architects, the Providence City Plan Commission, the Proprietors of Swan Point Cemetery, the National Planning Board, the State Planning Commission and the Providence Housing Association. He was the author of seven books on history of architecture and urban development of Providence and Rhode Island as well as author of numerous articles.

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William Arnold Autograph Collection

The William Arnold Autograph Collection is part of a larger collection of books and manuscripts dealing with American, and especially Rhode Island, history. The entire collection was donated to the Providence Public Library in 1923 by Mr. Frederick Augustus Arnold. The collection was named for William Arnold, an ancestor of Frederick A. Arnold. The collection is made up of more than 150 manuscripts, ranging from legal documents and business records to personal correspondence and portraits, spanning a period of 267 years.

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Harold Mason Photograph Collection

The Harold Mason Photograph Collection contains photographs and photographic postcards of domestic architecture and architectural elements of structures, specifically doorways, throughout Rhode Island. The bulk of the images are of building exteriors although some interior shots are included. Photographs are both mounted and on photographic postcards. Included in the collection is what is presumed to be the complete set of Providence doorways sold by Harold Mason. The remainder of the images are presumed to have been acquired as individual prints. While the actual date of these photographs is unknown, it is likely that they were produced from 1910-1920. Photographic postcards were developed after 1907 and several accounts show that organizations purchased his photograph sets 1916-1918.

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Providence Public Library Photograph Collection

Chartered by the General Assembly of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in 1875, the Providence Public Library (PPL) is a privately governed and supported library with a public library mission. PPL opened in 1878 on the second floor of the Butler Exchange building in Exchange Place. In 1880, it moved to a larger, street-level location on Snow Street below the Mowry and Goff School. The Library quickly required more space and in 1896 ground was broken for the Renaissance building at 225 Washington Street. The building was made possible by a large gift from John Nicholas Brown. The collection contains photographs of Providence Public Library and includes images of the buildings, staff, and programs. The bulk of the collection includes images of the building and staff of the Washington Street / Empire Street library (formerly knows as the Central Branch).

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John B. Archer Collection

This collection is comprised primarily of the work of John B. Archer. It contains scripts, arrangements, and sheet music of the various comic operas he wrote. Photographs and clippings from a photo album in the collection have been made available here.

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James N. Arnold Image Collection

This collection contains over 1100 glass plate negatives and 201 print photographs created by and/or collected by James N. Arnold. The images in the collection depict scenes across Rhode Island including beaches, farms and landscapes as well as activities and community events such as ice skating, parades, football games and community gardens. The collection is currently partially digitized. Assorted glass plate negatives and the print photographs remain are available to be viewed at the library.

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C. Fiske Harris Collection on Civil War & Slavery Manuscripts

The Caleb Fiske Harris Collection on the Civil War and Slavery was the first collection acquired by Providence Public Library, and is now one of the largest, containing more than 10,000 books, pamphlets, manuscripts, ephemera and newspapers. The items available here represent a small portion of the collection, in particular the letters of Civil War soldier George Turner, which were digitized by Michaela Keating in 2013.

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Rhode Island Mills and Mill Villages Photograph Collection

This collection is comprised of negatives, glossy photographic prints, and oversized photographic prints of mills and mill villages within Rhode Island. All of the photographs were taken by Joseph McCarthy as a Federal Works Agency project, a part of the WPA, in 1940 and given to the Providence Public Library as part of the Nickerson Architectural Collection that same year. A written reference work listing the prints and including an essay of the various architectural styles seen in the photographs was written by Samuel Green to accompany the collection and is held within the Rhode Island Collection.

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UPP Arts Collection

This collection documents the artistic, administrative, and educational activities of UPP Arts. The materials in this collection reflect a decade of interdisciplinary collaborations between artists, educators, students, and community members who used place-based art to celebrate and build awareness for Providence’s urban ponds. Their work focused particularly on Mashapaug Pond and its environs, which include the site of the Gorham Manufacturing Company and the former West Elmwood neighborhood. While much of the material in this collection was created by UPP Arts’ founder and Executive Director Holly Ewald, the collaborative nature of UPP Arts means that it represents the work of many different artists and contributors. UPP Arts engaged artists and communities in public art-making through programs like educational prop- and costume-making workshops, film screenings, and the yearly Procession. These activities are represented in the collection through digital photographs and videos; teaching proposals and lesson plans; and artistic works. The collection also traces the grassroots development and evolution of UPP Arts, from its origins in an individual artist project into a nonprofit organization with strong ties to schools, government agencies, and Brown University. The educational resources in this collection derive from UPP Arts’ work with primary, middle, and high schools; its connections to local environmental advocates; and its partnership with the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage at Brown University. The collection gathers primary and secondary sources that inform what UPP Arts has termed the “four stories” of Mashapaug Pond: its history as a natural resource for Rhode Island’s indigenous populations; its value to industrial production, evidenced in the operations of the Gorham Manufacturing Company; the socioeconomic history of the pond’s adjacent neighborhoods and the City of Providence’s urban redevelopment efforts of the 1960s; and the environmental impacts, both historical and current, on the pond and its surroundings.

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PLD Funding Provided By

A portion of the funding for Providence Public Library's digital collections comes from AskRI.org and the Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services.

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