RELATIVE TO THE
Early Town Records.
[PkESKNTED DlX'EMBEK 4, 1893.]
J. A. & R. A. Reid, City Printers,
Dyer and Pine Streets.
To THE Honorable the City Council of the City of
Gentlf'ien : — The Record Commissioners herewith sub-
mit the fourth of the printed volumes of the Early Records
of the Town of Providence, it being a continuation of the
records contained in the Third Book Town of Providence,
A and B, otherwise called "The Book with Brass Clasps."
In this book the records of town meetings and of the
town council terminate and an hiatus of seventeen years
occurs in the records of such meetings in the immediate
custody of the city.
Through the instrumentality of Charles E. Paine, Esq.,
for many years City Engineer, the attention of the Com-
missioners has been directed to two resolutions of the City
Council, which originated in the Board of Aldermen.
As originally introduced they passed the Aldermen Feb-
ruary 10, 1845, and were as follows :
" Resolved, That the Mayor be requested cause the
deed of Cananicus and Miantinomo to Roger Williams, dated
24th of 1st mo. 2 year of our plantation ; the deed of Roger
Williams to the first settlers, dated the 8th of the 8 month,
1638 ; the deed of Roger Williams to the first settlers, dated
20th of December, 1661 ; and the charter to the Town of
Providence, dated March, 1648, to be framed under or
between glass, and hung up in the City Clerk's office.
Resolved, That the Mayor be requested cause the
residue of the old papers in the City Clerk's office that have
usually been kept in bags, with such other loose ones as are
CITY DOCUMENT. [No. 29.
about his office and of no present use or value to the city, to
be transferred to the Rhode Island Historical Society, upon
the Society's giving a receipt and promising to return such
papers as shall be specified in it on request."
When these resolutions reached the Common Council,
they were referred to the Committee on City Property,
which committee subsequently submitted the following
*'To THE Honorable City Council of the City of
The undersigned Committee on City Property, to whom
was referred certain resolutions from the Board of Alder-
men, the first resolution respecting the old Indian Deeds to
Roger Williams, the second relating to the loose papers in
the City Clerk's office, would respectfully report that they
have examined the said deeds and find them in a grood state
of preservation, considering their great age. It is, there-
fore, their opinion that it is inexpedient for the Council to
concur in the first resolution, as they doubt the propriety of
putting the deeds under glass to be hung in the City Clerk's
office, as they fear the effect of the light would be to fade
the ink entirely out ; they, therefore, recommend that the
City Clerk be directed to procure a box to put the said
deeds in, and to be kept in the same form that they now are,
and think they would be much better preserved than in the
manner proposed by the resolution. In regard to the second
resolution, the}^ would recommend that the Council concur,
and that the loose papers in the Clerk's office be delivered to
the Historical Society as there provided.
James T. Rhodes,
Daniel E. Carpenter."
1893.] EARLY TOWN RECORDS. 5
On March 10, 1845, the Common Council concurred with
the Board of Aldermen with the followins: amendments,
viz : striking out the words " framed under or between glass
and hung up in the City Clerk's office " in the first resolu-
tion, and inserting in lieu thereof the words " placed in a
suitable box for their better preservation."
Some time between the tenth day of May, 1845, and the
twenty-first day of July, 1846, the exact date cannot now
he ascertained, the papers referred to were deposited with
the Historical Society ; and at a meeting of the society on
the twenty-first day of July, 1846, the Hon. Albert G.
Greene, in the words of the Society's resolution, "was
appointed to collate and arrange the manuscripts deposited
in the Northern Library during the past year, by vote of the
City Council of Providence, with authority to cause as many
blank books to be made as he may deem requisite for the
reception and preservation of said manuscripts, and to draw
upon the treasurer for the expense of such books."
It will be observed that no list or particular description of
the papers is given, nor do the records of the Society any-
where show the number or the nature of the manuscripts
thus deposited. No further mention is made on the records
of the society, relative to this deposit, other than that included
in a list of the additions to the Northern District Cabinet
for the year extending from July, 1845, to July, 1846,
wherein it is stated that there are : " four bags of documents on
deposit, to be surrendered when called for ; a receipt having
been given for the same to the City Clerk by the cabinet
keeper." A careful examination of the citj^'s files fails to
disclose this receipt, but it was probably no more in detail
than the entry made on the records of the Society,
In the course of their official investigations, the Commis-
sioners have had occasion from time to time to refer to the
great number of papers and documents relating to the
CITY DOCUMENT. [Si). '29.
proceedings of the town which were included among the manu-
script collections of the Rhode Island Historical Society, and
which gave unmistakable evidence of having been at one
time the property of the town.
This is now satisfactorily explained, and the Connnis-
sioners think it proper that the attention of the City Council
should be called to the fact so that these papers and docu-
ments, no less than the others of like character and descrip-
tion belonging to the city, may be placed in suitable form for
preservation, in accordance with the modern methods which
have been devised for preserving old manuscripts.
The Rhode Island Historical Society has long been recog-
nized as a proper depository for valual)le manuscripts and
documents by State, City and individuals ; indeed, the
General Assembly of Rhode Island makes an annual appro-
priation for caring for its property there deposited, and it
has recently, in recognition of the service rendered by
the society in this respect, seen fit to increase the amount of
For nearly half a century this honored old society has
cared for the papers of the city there deposited, not only
without remuneration, but even at some expense to itself ;
and it is fortunate that these documents were placed in so
secure a depository, for, had they not received such foster-
ing guardianship, it is not unlikely that, among the vicissi-
tudes to which they would have been exposed, many of them
now of inestimable value to the municipality would have
been lost or destroyed.
The authority granted the Record Connnissionersto collect,
print and preserve the early records of Providence, does not
restrict them to any particular records, so long as they are
the records of the town of Providence ; but before taking
any steps toward exercising any authority over the records
in the custody of the Historical Society, or towards putting
them in order, the Commissioners feel that the City Council
1893.] EARLY TOWN RECORDS. 7
should be informed of this deposit and its consent should be
The papers in the custody of the Historical Society, under
the resolution of the City Council hereinbefore referred to,
are none the less the property of the city than they would
be if they had not been placed in such custody.
The work on the " Providence Town Papers " has so far
progressed that an opportunity is now presented for the
Commissioners to give these papers proper attention without
interfering with the plans which they have outlined for caring
for the documents now in their immediate custody.
All of the papers in the city's possession, outside of the
Historical Society, previous to the year 1800, that have
come to the knowledge of the Commissioners have been
brought together, arranged, repaired and mounted in books,
and an index to all of them up to and including the year 1790
has been nearly completed.
In view of the fact that a considerable portion of the
records contained among the papers of the Rhode Island
Historical Society will fill up the break which has previously
been referred to, viz : the years 1675 to 1692, it would be
wise if attention could be given to these records and a sim-
ilar method pursued with them as with the other papers of
the city, so that the documentary possessions of the city
previous to the year 1800, wherever located, would be as
complete as it is possible to make them.
Some years ago the Historical Societ}' had these papers
of the city inserted in scrap books along with other miscel-
laneous manuscripts of its own, and any attempt to put the
city's papers in proper order will require that certain of the
Society's possessions be disarranged.
The care which this Society has given to this property of
the city during these many years would in justice seem to
demand that the city, in caring for its own documents, should
see that the Society's documents do not suffer by any
re-arrangement, and that they are left in proper order.
8 CITY DOCUMENT. [No. 29.
To this end the Commissioners recommend that, in the
prosecution of their work, they may be authorized to apply
a part of the last appropriation for their use, and, therefore,
respectfully ask for the passage of the accompanyinfr resolu-
G. M. Carpenter,
Providence, R. I., December 4, 1893.
No. 715. Resolution Directing the Record Commissioners
to Cause Certain Old Documents Deposited in the
R. I. Historical Society to be Repaired.
[Approved Decembers, 1S93.]
Resolved, That the record commissioners be and they
are hereby directed to cause the old papers and docu-
ments deposited in the Rhode Island Historical Society,
by resolution of the City Council passed March 10, 1845,
to be suitably repaired, classified, inserted in books, and
indexed ; and to also cause such manuscripts belonging to
said society as may be disarranged by such repairing and
classifying, to be arranged satisfactory to said society.
KELATIVE TO THE
Early Town Records,
[Pkkskxted December 4, 181)3.]
J. A. & E. A. Reid, City PiaNTKHs,
Dyer and Pine Streets.
i ti i
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
0014 110 211 4
ti ] I nlilli } It! 1 1 !Hi
iH MM :
I! I II