Guide to the Providence Athenaeum annual reports, 1837-2018


Providence Athenaeum
251 Benefit Street
Providence, RI, 02903
Tel: 401-421-6970
email: info@provath.org
website: www.provath.org

Published in 2018

Collection Overview

Title: Providence Athenaeum annual reports
Date range: 1837-2018
Creator: Providence Athenaeum
Extent: 9.4 linear feet
Abstract: Providence Athenaeum's annual reports, presented at annual meetings each year and published between 1837 and the present.
Language of materials: English
Repository: Providence Athenaeum
Collection number: Arch-004

Scope & content

This collection consists of the Providence Athenaeum's annual reports, presented at annual meetings each year and published between 1837 and the present.

Growth of the Providence Athenæum: Examining several benchmark issues of the annual reports (from 1836, 1911 (75th anniversary), and 2018) provides a profile of the institution's growth through the years.
  • Membership in 1836 consisted of 291 subscribers and shareholds. This rose in 1911 to 970 shareholders, and in 2018 to 1,273 memberships.
  • Collection size grew from 4,162 volumes 1836 to 76,575 in 1911 and up to 178,012 in 2018.
  • Circulation, which in 1836 was 4,162, grew to 66,440 in 1911, and 26,286 in 2018.
  • Endowment: The endowment of $5,000 in 1836 grew to $51,669 by 1911.
  • Assets were listed in the 1911 Treasurer's report as $16,266 and by 2018 had grown to $12,948,911.


Publication schedule: The first two reports were published in the Providence Morning Courier on March 29 and October 3, 1837. Since 1838, annual reports have been issued once a year. As the fiscal year has shifted, the months documented in annual reports have varied. For many years, the reports have been distributed between September and November, to coincide with annual meetings. Reports from 1979-1989 covered a fiscal year from Sept. 1 through August 31. In 1994 is was stated that "The Providence Athenaeum has changed its fiscal year to run concurrently with the calendar year (January 1 - December 31); this continued through the 2004 report. The 2005 and 2006 report covered an 18-month period (from January 2005 through June 2006) and stated that "Future reports will cover a 12-month period, based on new fiscal year, July 1st through June 30. This has continued to the present time.

Conjoined issues: From 1932-1963, only the 1938 report (No. 103) was issued separately. The 1932-1937 annual reports were issued in sets of two in the odd years (Nos. 97-102); 1939-1954 were issued every two years in the even years (Nos. 104-119). The annual reports from 1955-1960 were issued as a set of six (Nos. 120-125) in 1960; a set of three reports was issued in 1963 for the years 1961-1963 (Nos. 126-128). All other reports from 1838-1931 and from 1964 to the present have been issued separately.

Format: With the exception of the first two annual reports published in a Providence newspaper, subsequent annual reports are in manuscript (handwritten into journals, or as separate documents), typewritten in a few cases, and for the most part, published. The page size of reports varies from about 16-28 cm. and number of pages varies from 4 to about 100 pages. Photographs began to appear in the reports by 1911, an issue which includes a glossy photograph of the Providence Athenaeum on Benefit Street and an image from "an old print" of the Arcade Building in downtown Providence.

Content: Some early issues included sections with the full catalog of the Athenaeum's holdings and lists of recent additions to the collection. The 1911 annual report (No. 76) celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Providence Athenaeum "with a history of the Providence Library Company, 1953-1836, the old Providence Atenaeum, 1831-1836, and The Providence Athenaeum, 1836-1911" on pages [17]-55. This same 1911 report includes a list of officers and staff, a report from the Board of Directors to the shareholders, the Librarian's report of activities and circulation numbers, a financial report from the Treasurer, a list of donors of materials (books, pamphlets, and periodicals), a list of proprietors with their Share numbers, and two appendices (Appendix I. Shares and subscriptions, each year from 1837-1911; Appendix II. Additions and circulation, each year from 1837-1911).

Authorship: Early annual reports of the Providence Athenaeum were written by members of the Board of Directors, and submitted by the President of the Board to the Corporation (subscribers, also called proprietors and share-holders) at Annual Meetings. Early Presidents of the Board were John Pitman (1836-1856), William S. Patten (1856-1870), William Gammell (1870-1882), and Alexander Farnum (1882-1883). The 1st and 2nd reports, published in the local newspaper, were written by the Board Vice President, William Giles Goddard, who also authored the 4th and 5th reports (1839, 1940). The 24th report (1859) was written by J. Dunham Hedge, the Librarian hired by the Board. In more recent years, the "Librarian" has been retitled the "Executive Director" with expanded duties, and the annual report continues to be submitted by the President of the Board of Directors to the membership.

Gaps in publication: No annual reports were printed for the years 1964-1969. No report was published in Fall 1997 due to a change in the fiscal year.

Arrangement

Arranged in four series and chronologically thereunder:
  • Series 1. Published annual reports (unbound)
  • Series 2. Published annual reports (bounds sets)
  • Series 3. Manuscript and typescript annual reports
  • Series 4. Lists of writers of annual reports

Historical Note

The Providence Athenæum (1836- ) is an independent, member-supported library and cultural center located in Providence, Rhode Island.

Founded originally as "The Athenæum" in 1836, its progenitors were two earlier libraries: The Providence Library Company, founded in 1753, and the Providence Athenaeum, founded in 1831. When they could not agree on terms for a merger, both organizations dissolved and a new library was formed, which purchased a selection of books and periodicals from the two earlier institutions. Housed originally in the Arcade on Weybosset Street in downtown Providence, the Athenæum moved to its new building at 251 Benefit Street in July, 1838. In 1850, “The Athenæum” was renamed “The Providence Athenæum" by amendment to its charter.

Sources: Providence Athenæum website and Wikipedia article viewed online June 28, 2018.

Access & Use

Access to the collection: Open to public research. Materials are available by prior appointment that requires 24-hour advance notice.
Use of the materials: It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Researchers seeking to publish materials should complete an Application to Publish Library Materials available through written request to info@provath.org
Preferred citation: Providence Athenaeum annual reports, 1837-2018, Arch-004, Providence Athenaeum.
Contact information: Providence Athenaeum
251 Benefit Street
Providence, RI, 02903
Tel: 401-421-6970
email: info@provath.org
website: www.provath.org

Administrative Information

ABOUT THE COLLECTION  
Accruals: Additional materials are expected annually for this collection.
ABOUT THE FINDING AID  
Author: Finding aid written by Sarah Shaw, November 2018; revised in September 2019 to reflect reshelving location of Isham Room materials.
Encoding: Encoded using Oxygen XML Editor 2018-09-18
Descriptive rules: Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)

Additional Information

Related material: Providence Athenaeum annual reports published online:
  • Annual Report of the Providence Athenaeum July 2017 - June 2018
Marble bust of John Pitman held by the Providence Athenaeum:
  • The Honorable John Pitman, ca. 1853 by American sculptor George O. Annable
Portraits (held by other institutions) of some Providence Athenaeum Board members who authored early annual reports:
  • John Pitman Jr., President of the Board, 1836-1856 (Brown University Portrait Collection)
  • William Giles Goddard, Vice-President of the Board, 1839-1840 (Brown University Portrait Collection)
  • William Gammell, President of the Board, 1870-1882 (Househistory website)

Inventory


Series 1. Published annual reports (unbound), 1837 to present

Subseries 1.1. Published annual reports (unbound) in Archives Closet 6
2 items

Container Description Date
Archives Closet 6, Box 1, Folder 3 1837 (No. 1-2)
Contents Note: First and Second annual reports, as printed in the Providence Morning Courier, 1837 March 29 and October 3.

1837

Subseries 1.2. Published annual reports (unbound) in Isham Room
9 boxes

Container Description Date
Isham Shelf 4, Box 1 1840-1864 (Nos. 3-29)
Contents Note: Unbound.

1840-1864
Isham Shelf 4, Box 2 1864-1883 (Nos. 30-48)
Contents Note: Unbound.

1865-1883
Isham Shelf 4, Box 3 1884-1898 (Nos. 49-63)
Contents Note: Unbound.

1884-1898
Isham Shelf 4, Box 4 1899-1916 (Nos. 64-81)
Contents Note: Unbound. The 1908 report includes Mr. Stone's resignation. The 1911 report has images of the Athenaeum (a photograph) and Arcade building (from a print) "with a history of the Providence Library Company, 1753-1836, the old Providence Athenaeum, 1831-1836, and the Providence Athenaeum, 1836-1911".

1899-1916
Isham Shelf 4, Box 5 1917-1948 (Nos. 82-113)
Contents Note: The 1918 (93rd) report is a photocopy only. The 1919 report contains the Constitution. The 1922 ((87th) report is a photocopy only. Some conjoined reports were published together: 1932-1933 (97th and 98th), 1934-1935 (99th and 100th), 1936-1937 (101th and 102nd), 1939-1940 (104th and 105th), 1941-1942, 1943-1944, 1945-1946, 1947-1948.

1917-1948
Isham Shelf 4, Box 6 1949-1963, 1975-1985 (Nos. 114-141 and unnumbered)
Contents Note: Between 1949-1954 reports were published in pairs : 1949-1950, 1951-1952, 1953-1954. Reports for the 6 years from 1955-1960 (120th-125th) were published together; reports for the 3 years from 1961-1963 (126th-128th) were published together. There were no annual reports issues from 1964-1974. Annual reports resume for the years 1975, 1976, 1978, and 1979. Annual report for year ending 1976 is last one numbered (141st). No annual report was published in 1977. The 1979 annual report covers September 1, 1978 through August 31, 1979. The 1980-1983 reports are "for the year ending August 31".

1949-1985
Isham Shelf 4, Box 7 1986-1996 (Unnumbered)
Contents Note: 1986-1989 reports are for the 12 months ending August 31. Beginning with 1994 report "The Providence Athenaeum has changed its fiscal year to run concurrently with the calendar year … December 31." The report for 1996 has Part I (activity reports) and Part II ("Financial Statement and Donor Reports"). No report was published in Fall 1997 due to a change in the fiscal year.

1986-1996
Isham Shelf 4, Box 8 1998-2016 (Unnumbered)
Contents Note: The 1998 and 1999 annual reports are included in The Owl and the 2002 and 2003 annual Reports are included in The Universal Penman. The 2004 report is a draft version only. The 2007-2016 reports are for 12 months ending June 30.

1998-2016
Isham Shelf 4, Box 9 2017-2018
2017-2018

Series 2. Published annual reports (bound sets), 1837-1985

Subseries 2.1. Published annual reports (bound sets ) in Philbrick Reference
7 volumes

Container Description Date
Philbrick Reference , Item 1 1837-1860 (Nos. 1-25)
1837-1860
Philbrick Reference , Item 2 1861-1885 (No. 26-50)
1861-1885
Philbrick Reference , Item 3 1886-1910 (Nos. 51-75)
Contents Note: The 1886 report (51st) "with a sketch of the history of the institution from 1836 to 1886, the 50th anniversary of its incorporation". Lists of officers 1836-1886.

1886-1910
Philbrick Reference , Item 4 1911-1920 (Nos. 76-85)
1911-1920
Philbrick Reference , Item 5 1921-1930 (Nos. 86-95)
1921-1930
Philbrick Reference , Item 6 1931-1960 (Nos. 96-125)
Contents Note: During 1931-1960, reports were published two years at a time, with the exception of 1931 and 1938, and the 1955-1960 publication of six years of annual reports.

1931-1960
Philbrick Reference , Item 7 1960-1963 (Nos. 126-128); 1970-1985 (Nos. 136-142 & Unnumbered)
Contents Note: Reports for 1964-1970 were never printed. The 1977 report is the last one published with a number (No. 142).

1960-1985

Subseries 2.2. Published annual reports (bound sets) in Archives Closet 6
15 volumes

Container Description Date
Archives Closet 6, Shelf 2, Item 1 1837-1910 (Nos. 1-75)
Contents Note: Bound in 4 volumes.

1837-1910
Archives Closet 6, Shelf 2, Item 2 1837-1935 (Nos. 1-100)
Contents Note: Bound in 8 volumes.

1837-1935
Archives Closet 6, Shelf 2, Item 3 1837-1860 (Nos. 1-25)
1837-1860
Archives Closet 6, Shelf 2, Item 4 1911-1925 (Nos. 76-90)
Contents Note: The 1911 report has images of the Athenaeum (a photograph) and Arcade building (from a print) "with a history of the Providence Library Company, 1753-1836, the old Providence Athenaeum, 1831-1836, and the Providence Athenaeum, 1836-1911".

1911-1925
Archives Closet 6, Shelf 2, Item 5 1970-1985 (Nos. 136-142 & Unnumbered)
Contents Note: The 1977 report (No. 142) is the last one published with a number.

1970-1985

Series 3. Manuscript and typescript annual reports, 1837-1981

Container Description Date
Archives Closet 6, Box 1, Folder 2 1st-2nd annual reports
2 items
Contents Note: First and Second annual reports (1837). Manuscript

1837
Archives Closet 2, Box 2, Folder 1 Annual reports, 1837-1851
9 items
Contents Note: Nine annual reports: 1837 (1st), 1840 (5th), 1841 (6th), 1843 (8th), 1845 (10th), 1847 (12th), 1849 (14th), 1850 (15th).], 1951 (16th). Manuscript (folded paper).

1837-1851
Archives Closet 2, Box 2, Folder 2 7th annual report, 1842
1 item
Contents Note: One annual report: 1842 (7th) "submitted September 25th, 1842". Manuscript (loose-leaf notebook)

1842
Archives Closet 2, Box 2, Folder 3 Annual reports, 1852-1856, 1857-1859
7 items
Contents Note: Seven annual reports: 1852-1856 (17th-21st) and 1857-1858 (23rd-24th), plus "historical sketch published with the Catalogue in 1853, written by Sam'l W. Peckham, some of the material published by H.T. Beckwith". Lacks 1857 (22nd) report. Manuscript (folded paper).

1852-1859
Archives Closet 2, Shelf 1, Item 3 Annual reports, 1854-1879
26 items in 1 notebook
Contents Note: Twenty-six annual reports: 1854-1879 (19th-44th). In manuscript notebook entitled "Corporation Journal 1854-1879 Providence Athenaeum". Lists of donors included in most of the Annual Reports.

1854-1879
Archives Closet 2, Shelf 1, Item 4 Annual reports, 1880-1920
41 items in 1 notebook
Contents Note: Forty-one annual reports: 1880-1920 (45th-85th). In manuscript notebook entitled "Providence Athenaeum Corporation Journal 1880-1920". Fifty-first Annual Report (1886) contains a summary of catalogues and donations since 1836.

1880-1920
Archives Closet 6, Shelf 1, Group 1 Annual reports, 1912-1935
35 items
Contents Note: Unbound typescript.

1912-1935
Archives Closet 6, Shelf 1, Group 2 Annual reports, 1936-1963
37 items
Contents Note: Unbound typescript.

1936-1963
Archives Closet 6, Shelf 1, Group 3 Annual reports, 1964-1981
25 items
Contents Note: Unbound typescript. Lacking: 1969, 1970. No reports were subsequently printed for 1964-1969.

1964-1981

Series 4. Lists of writers of annual reports, 1837-1907, 1911-1930
2 items
Additional lists of writers are found at the beginning of various bound volumes of annual reports in this collection.

Container Description Date
Archives Closet 6, Box 1, Folder 8 List of writers of the Annual Reports of the Providence Athenaeum, 1837-1907
1 typescript sheet.
Contents Note: Lists Annual Report writers from 1837-1907.

1907?
Archives Closet 6, Box 1, Folder 8 Writers of the 76th - 95th Annual reports
1 handwritten sheet.
Contents Note: Lists Annual Report writers from 1911-1930.

1930?