Rhode Island Archival and Manuscript Collections Online

For Participating Institutions

Royal Theatre Records (MS.2011.034)

Brown University Library

Box A
Brown University
Providence, RI 02912
Tel: 401-863-2146
Fax: 401-863-2093

Scope & content

The Royal Theatre Records comprise the business records of the Royal Theatre in Olneyville Square, Providence, Rhode Island, 1912-1935. Records consist of correspondence, account books, invoices and receipts, tax records, insurance and legal documents, and printed materials including clippings and industry publications.

Series 1: Correspondence. The bulk of the materials consist of routine incoming business correspondence arranged alphabetically within the following date ranges: 1916-1918, 1918-1920, 1922-1924, 1926-1928. Date ranges correspond to letter boxes used in original filing system. The bulk of this material consists of incoming correspondence from film distribution companies and their regional subsidiaries and includes agreements, schedules, and promotions related to film distribution. This correspondence documents a network of national, regional, and local agencies and actors. Additional correspondence documents the day-to-day management of the theater. Two folders of outgoing correspondence, dated 1924-1926, follow the incoming correspondence. With few exceptions, outgoing correspondence consists of unsigned typescript copies of letters sent by J. Fred Lovett, theatre manager, and addressed to the Amusement Inspector, Liet. George W. Cowan, of the Providence Police. This correspondence details the schedule of motion pictures for the coming week. Significant correspondents include: American Feature Film Co.; American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers; Board of Fire Commissioner's Office (Providence, R.I.); Board of Police Commissioner (Providence, R.I.); Eastern Feature Film Co.; Employer's Liability Assurance Corporation; Famous Players-Lasky Corporation; Federated Feature Film Exchange, Inc. of New England; Fox Film Corporation; General Film Co.; George Cowan, Office of Amusement Inspector; Goldwyn Distributing Corporation; Heywood-Wakefield Company; International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local No. 23; Liberty Loan Committee of Rhode Island; Major Film Corporation; Metro Pictures Corporation; Motion Picture Theatre Owners of America; Motion Picture War Service Bureau. New England Division; New England Universal Film Exchange; Pathé Exchange; Select Pictures Corporation; Vitagraph; W.W. Hodkinson Corporation; World Film Corporation. Note that materials are not always filed consistently over time. For example, correspondence from George Cowan can be found under the last name Cowan, and his office, Amusement inspector.

Series 2: Financial records. The materials are arranged in five subseries: account books, invoices and receipts, payroll, taxes, and banking. Banking records constitute the largest component of the series and comprise monthly statements, canceled checks, and check registers, from accounts with the Union Trust Company (Providence, R.I.) and the Industrial Trust Company (Providence, R.I.). Banking materials date from 1914-1917. Tax records consist of limited correspondence and admission tax reports maintained by the theater, 1917-1924. Payroll is limited to undated manuscript lists.

Series 3: Insurance and legal records. Materials are arranged chronologically and include fire and liability insurance policies, film distribution and other contracts, licences, and a Writ of Summons against Mabel E. Whelden, et al.

Series 4: Printed materials. Series consists of collected clippings; annotated extracts from the Providence house directory (1924); short runs of two motion picture trade journals: Harrison's Reports (1920-1923) and Reeland Reviews (1922-1924); and 2 blueprint cadastral maps of the land on on Olneyville Square (Providence) belonging to Lydia A. Waterman. Clippings comprise film reviews from the trade journal Wid's Daily (1918-1919).