Rhode Island Archival and Manuscript Collections Online

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Providence Lithograph Company Records (MSS 1028)

Rhode Island Historical Society

121 Hope Street
Providence, RI 02906
Tel: 401-273-8107
Fax: 401-751-7930
Email: reference@rihs.org

Historical note

The Providence partnership of Harris & Jones entered into business as commercial lithographers in 1868, and became the Providence Lithograph Company circa 1875. In 1878, the firm began to emphasize religious lesson material for Sunday schools, and grew to become the leading printers of Sunday School lesson material in the country. Most of their work was done directly for the educational and publishing wings of the larger Protestant denominations. They also published periodicals and a small number of illustrated religious books under the imprints of Harris-Jones and the Religious Press.

The company maintained a large library of artwork, mostly of biblical subjects. It commissioned some original artwork, and also negotiated for publishing rights or commissioned reproductions of existing works. Much of the artwork was licensed for American use from British publishers such as Eyre & Spottiswoode and the Lutterworth Press. The company did not generally produce individual prints of its art, or license its art to other commercial publishers.

In 1959, the company set off a subsidiary, Federated Lithographers-Printers Inc., to handle secular printing, with road maps their particular specialty. With the decline in church attendance in the 1960s, the subsidiary grew to handle most of the company's business. Providence Lithograph was acquired by the Canadian conglomerate Quebecor Inc. in 1989. Its old Prairie Avenue plant remained in operation as Quebecor Printing Federated until its closure in late 1998, which left 144 former employees out of work.

Presidents of the company over the years included Jabez Gorham Harris (1853-1928), his son-in-law Randolph T. Ode (1877-1967) ; and Ode's son-in-law Roger K. Richardson from 1959 onward.