The Providence College Archives and Special Collections holds many unique collections available for research. These are described below and, if available, includes a link to the collection guide (finding aid). The guides provide additional context to aid in your research, and include inventories and descriptions of the materials within the collection. While select materials from these collections is available through our digital collections, the majority has not been digitized.
Please note that these guides do not represent our entire holdings. Please contact the archives for more information.
The 11th United States Colored Heavy Artillery Regiment, an African American army regiment during the United States Civil War (1861-1865), was originally organized in 1863 as the 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery Regiment (Colored). It was then redesignated the 8th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery Regiment in April 1864, and reorganized finally as the 11th in May 1864. The regiment was mustered out of service at Camp Parapet in New Orleans, La., on October 2nd, 1865. This collection features military records compiled by Allen F. Cameron (b. 1836), a white U.S. Army officer, originally from Canada, who served with the 11th and rose to the rank of Lieutenant. The bulk of the collection contains official documents created from 1863 to 1865 during Cameron’s time with the regiment, including equipage lists, enlistment rosters, general and special orders, and court martial records, which illustrate life in the Union Army as well as the treatment endured by African American troops from white officers. The rest of the collection dates from 1853 to 1913 and includes Cameron family correspondence and miscellaneous documents detailing Cameron’s activities during and after the war.
Alice LaFond Altieri (1895-1976) was a lifelong civil servant from Rhode Island, working primarily with the North Smithfield community. She was elected to one term in the Rhode Island House of Representatives in 1934 as a Democrat representing the town of North Smithfield (as Alice E. LaFond). Her civil service career began years earlier, when she served as a clerk within various divisions of the U.S. War Department in 1918 and 1919 and later as a deputy collector for the Internal Revenue Service in the 1920s. During her tenure as State Representative, LaFond Altieri sponsored bills to aid dependent children and blind individuals, and she introduced the Civil Service Act in 1936. She was active on many legislative committees and helped to organize the first old age program in the state. After leaving office, she returned to local civic duty in North Smithfield and Woonsocket, where she focused her attention on health and public welfare issues. In 1961, she was appointed North Smithfield Public Welfare Director, a position she held until 1968. The papers of Alice LaFond Altieri include correspondence, scrapbooks, clippings, speeches, reports, and other documents reflecting her lifetime of political, civic, and charitable activities.
Edward P. Beard papers
Edward P. Beard (1940-2021) was a Democrat from Rhode Island who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974, where he served until 1981. He served as a member of the Rhode Island State House of Representatives from 1972 to 1974 and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1976. Following three terms in the House of Representatives, Beard ran unsuccessfully for reelection in 1980. He later served as Director of Elderly Affairs for the City of Providence from 1986 to 2002. The Edward P. Beard papers focus primarily on his time in U.S. Congress representing the State of Rhode Island. A large amount of correspondence in the collection reflects his particular concern for veterans, the elderly, and those with disabilities. Finding aid not yet available, please contact the archives for more information about this collection.
The Blackfriars Guild collection details the American Catholic theatre movement from the 1940s through the early 1970s, giving particular attention to the Blackfriars Theatre in New York City, a viable and prolific off-Broadway theatre during the mid-twentieth century. In 1931 two priests, Urban Nagle and Thomas Fabian Carey, founded the Blackfriars Guild, reviving the name of the sixteenth century private theatres in London. Originally based at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. where the two men were studying, the organization would eventually expand to twenty-two chapters across the country. However, it was the New York City theater, established in 1940 under the direction of Father Nagle and Father Carey, that was the most widely acclaimed and celebrated theatre of the guild until it closed in 1972. This collection includes scripts, photographs, play bills, reviews, and memorabilia for many of the productions. Also included are correspondence, legal documents, news clippings, and publications which record the history and legacy of the guild. In addition, the collection contains the correspondence of Father Carey, one of the primary managers of Blackfriars Theatre in New York.
The collection consists of documentation, photographs, and memorabilia of Marine Colonel John V. Brennan (Providence College class of ’59). The center piece of this collection are Brennan’s oral histories of major figures and foreign affairs initiatives during his service as the Marine Corp military aide to President Richard Nixon and as his chief of staff during President Nixon’s post-presidency years.
Louis F. Budenz (1891-1972) was a labor activist and writer. Budenz began his career as an avid supporter of the U.S. Communist Party, but later became a vocal anti-communist and government witness. From 1935 to 1940, he was president and managing editor of the Daily Worker, a communist newspaper published in New York City. In 1945, Budenz reaffirmed his commitment to the Catholic faith and renounced communism, positioning himself as a strong anti-communist advocate. He testified before a series of House and Senate committees, including the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), which led to the conviction and deportation of several Communist Party members. Budenz also taught at various Catholic universities, including Providence College in 1956, and published six books on the dangers of communism. The year prior to his death, Budenz received the honorary degree of Doctor of Political Science from Providence College on June 11, 1971. His collection is primarily comprised of books, pamphlets, and periodicals on communism in the United States and abroad. The collection also contains an assortment of correspondence, most notably between Budenz and Senator Joseph R. McCarthy.
William Henry Chamberlin (1897-1969) was a prolific American historian, journalist, foreign correspondent, and political commentator. Disillusioned by his experiences abroad in the USSR during the 1930s while working as Moscow correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor, Chamberlin became politically conservative and a strong proponent of individual liberty. He was also a member of the John Birch Society, a prominent right-wing political advocacy group. The collection consists of personal correspondence, news clippings, publications, private journals, photographs, and microfilm. The bulk of the collection is composed of clippings of articles written by Chamberlin during his career as a journalist, which reflect his political viewpoints.
The papers of musician and pianist Rosalind Y. Chua consists of materials generated by Chua during the course of her normal activities as Professor of Music for Providence College.
Father Charles E. Coughlin collection
Father Charles E. Coughlin (1891-1979), dubbed “The Radio Priest,” was a Roman Catholic priest who developed a mass audience through his radio addresses and publications during the 1930s and early 1940s. He was a very contentious figure who was openly antisemitic, denounced President Franklin D. Roosevelt and capitalism, hated communism, and embraced fascism and a corporate state as a solution to worldwide economic depression. In 1934, Coughlin founded the National Union for Social Justice (NUSJ), a political organization which launched a third party, called the Union Party. Following the United States’ entry into World War II in December 1941, the Roosevelt administration, with support from Catholic Church leadership, forced the cessation of Coughlin’s radio program and revoked mail distribution privileges for his magazine Social Justice due to his hateful rhetoric and extremist propaganda. Materials include Coughlin’s lectures, sermons, books, pamphlets, and periodicals. Additional materials include publications produced by the Union Party. Finding Aid Available Upon Request.
The papers of Rodney Delasanta consists of materials generated by Delasanta during the course of his normal activities as Professor of English for Providence College, 1950-1977.
Joseph A. Doorley (1930-2022), a member of the Democratic Party, served as mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, from 1965 to 1975 during a turbulent time of economic decline and civil unrest. During his early years in office, Providence was one of the first cities to join the federal Model Cities Program and integrate its schools. However, Doorley’s time as mayor was also marked by desperate economic troubles and highly controversial urban renewal development projects. One of his signature achievements was the building of Providence Civic Center. The collection documents Doorley’s relationships with prominent political figures as well as the inner workings of various city departments. Materials span national and state politics and touch upon many important social and economic issues of his time, such as the fight for fair housing, population decline and white flight, widespread business closures, infrastructure development, and the push for anti-poverty programs. Doorley’s work with a variety of municipal associations is also well-represented. Please note this finding aid is in draft form.
Edward Paul Doyle, O.P. Ph.D., (1907-1997) was a Dominican Brother, who also served as a Chaplain with the U.S. Army’s 104th Infantry Division during World War II. Father Doyle taught at Providence College before and after his service in the military. This collection relates to his years in the military service, his personal witness of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp at Nordhausen in April 1945, and his participation in several Holocaust memorial programs. This collection has been digitized and is available online.
John J. Fawcett (1909-1992) earned international acclaim as a cartoonist during his 37-year career with theProvidence Journal. In 1938, Fawcett was hired by the Journal as a letterer. Over the years he served as an illustrator, sports cartoonist, and finally, starting in 1960, as the paper’s editorial cartoonist. For his work, Fawcett received four National Brotherhood Awards from the National Conference of Christians and Jews from 1962 to 1969. The collection consists of 3,000 original pen and ink drawings and copies of editorial cartoons created by Fawcett for the Providence Journal from 1962 until his retirement in 1975. The cartoons in this collection cover social and political themes spanning local, national, and international issues.
John E. Fogarty (1913-1967) was an American legislator who became known as “Mr. Public Health” for his advocacy of federal funding for medical research, health education, and health care services. After graduating from LaSalle Academy, Fogarty attended evening classes at Providence College. He then joined his older brother and father as an apprentice bricklayer, subsequently becoming the President of Bricklayers Union No. 1, laying the groundwork for his career in public service. As Democratic representative for Rhode Island, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1941 to 1967 and chaired the House Appropriations Subcommittee for the Departments of Labor and Health, Education, and Welfare from 1949 onward. During his congressional tenure, Fogarty championed a vast expansion of the National Institutes of Health, as well as aid to medical schools, libraries, and programs for children with disabilities. He sponsored or contributed to virtually every piece of health-related legislation introduced during this time. The John E. Fogarty Papers range from c.1941 to 1967 and contain personal and legislative correspondence, speeches, legislative records, photographs, and audiovisual materials.
Aime J. Forand (1895-1972) served in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat and member from the 1st Congressional District of Rhode Island from 1937 to 1939 and from 1941 to 1961. Among other appointments, Forand was a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee. Throughout his career, he was an important advocate for senior citizens, disabled persons, and veterans. He was also instrumental in crafting legislation to increase benefits for the unemployed, low-income families, and non-profit organizations. Forand received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Providence College in 1951. Collection materials highlight both Forand’s personal and public life, including congressional correspondence, photographs, memorabilia, election materials, and service awards and commendations. Also featured are scrapbooks which Forand personally compiled with news clippings and government documents to highlight his political career and advocacy.
The papers of Edward J. Higgins primarily consist of political correspondence, news clipping, and other documents covering the period when Higgins served as assistant to U.S. Senator, Theodore Francis Green. These papers include investigative reports concerning the the 1939-1940 wire tapping case involving RI Governor William Henry Vanderbilt and Pawtucket City Mayor Thomas McCoy. The collection also contains personal correspondence, plus an assortment of campaign memorabilia Higgins collected as a Democratic Delegate at the National Conventions from 1940-1964.
John R. Kellam was a Quaker and an American prisoner of conscience in World War Two. He later devoted his life fighting against discrimination in general and in particular housing discrimination against minorities. This collection contains his papers relating to his work with the Rhode Island Committee Against Discrimination in Housing from 1950 to the early 1960s.
This small collection is comprised mostly of news clippings covering events related to John F. Kennedy. Additional materials concern Robert F. Kennedy and Edward M. Kennedy.
The collection consists of 164 78 rpm phonograph recordings of Enrico Caruso, John McCormack, recordings of classical music composed by Beethoven, Grieg, and of popular musical artists of the 1920s and 1930s. Additional recordings contain instructional Latin lessons. The was collected by Edward J. McDermott of North Providence, Rhode Island and donated by him to Providence College in 1976-77.
Thomas McGlynn, O.P. (1906-1977) was a Catholic priest and member of the Dominican Order, as well as an artist, sculptor, writer, and teacher. He received the habit of the Dominican Order on September 8, 1925, taking the religious name of Brother Matthew. He was ordained in 1932, at St. Dominic’s Church, in Washington, D.C. Fr. McGlynn earned a degree in sculpture from the Royal Academy of Rome in 1934 and continued his artistic studies at Cranbrook Academy in Michigan. He began teaching oratory at Providence College in 1946, though he continued to apply himself to sculpture. In 1956, Fr. McGlynn traveled to Pietrasanta, Italy, to carve a marble statue of Our Lady of Fatima for the Shrine at Fatima, Portugal, and he remained connected to Pietrasanta, where he kept a studio, for the rest of his life. Fr. McGlynn was Providence College’s first professor of sculpture, and he served as the inspiration for the Pietrasanta study abroad program. The Thomas M. McGlynn, O.P. collection contains manuscripts, drafts, poetry, correspondence, news clippings, pamphlets, and photographs. The College also maintains a sculpture collection of around seventy original works of art; the bronzes of St. Dominic and St. Martin de Porres are on public display on the campus grounds.
J. Howard McGrath papers
James Howard McGrath (1903-1966) was a Democratic politician and attorney from Woonsocket, Rhode Island. He received his Ph.B. from Providence College in 1926, and LL.B. from Boston University in 1929, the same year he was admitted to the Rhode Island Bar Association. From 1940 until 1945, he was the Governor of Rhode Island. McGrath then served for a year as Solicitor General of the United States. In 1946, he was elected U.S. Senator from Rhode Island. President Truman appointed McGrath Attorney General of the United States on August 24, 1949. He resigned from that office on April 7, 1952, and entered the private practice of law for the remainder of his career. The papers of J. Howard McGrath document his professional and political life as a lawyer, Democratic State and National Committee Chairman, Rhode Island Governor, U.S. Senator, Solicitor General, and Attorney General of the United States. The bulk of the collection covers his political career at the state level in Rhode Island. Finding aid not yet available; please contact the archives for more information about this collection.
Cornelius C. Moore (1885-1970), a lawyer, banker, politician, and civic leader, was also an avid collector of 17th and 18th century American silver. Although primarily interested in Rhode Island silver, he acquired works from many prominent colonial silversmiths, including Paul Revere, Myer Myers, Arnold Collins, John Edwards, Samuel Casey, Samuel Vernon, and Jonathan Otis. The 200-piece silver collection, once owned by Providence College, was sold at auction in 1986 and is now split between various collectors. The remaining Moore collection currently held by Providence College Archives and Special Collections is comprised of photographs of each piece, correspondence between Moore and dealers, as well as research files used to verify the silver’s authenticity.
J. Lyons Moore (1903-1969) and his wife Marian Gilmore Moore (c.1912-2002) worked on behalf of the Democratic Party in various capacities from the 1940s through the late 1960s. They married in the fall of 1951. Lyons Moore was Assistant Comptroller of the Democratic National Committee, serving under five national chairpersons, and managed the Democratic Digest, a publication of the national committee. Gilmore Moore, a Rhode Island native, was an Assistant Chief Clerk of the Senate Rules Committee. In addition, she held various secretarial positions within the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and served as secretary to Senator Theodore Francis Green (R.I.), among others. She retired in 1971. The collection contains documents and ephemera relating to national and state elections and conventions, including a wide assortment of memorabilia and private correspondence between party officials and many prominent Democrats from the 1930s-1970s.
The NAACP Providence Branch was formed in Providence, R.I., in the winter of 1913-1914 as the local chapter of the NAACP. The NAACP is a civil rights organization founded in 1909 in New York City as an interracial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans by a group including W. E. B. Du Bois, Mary White Ovington, Moorfield Storey, and Ida B. Wells. NAACP Providence works to safeguard the political, educational, social, and economic equality of minority groups in Rhode Island. The NAACP Providence Branch collection consists of correspondence, documents, publications, newspaper clippings, and other material about civil rights issues both in Rhode Island and throughout the nation. The collection has particularly strong coverage of the 1960s and 1970s.
This small collection of mostly Rhode Island newspapers contains articles reporting on early World War I events, the Hurricane of 1938, the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and 1950s reunification efforts of Ireland. Additional materials include microfilm copies of the mid-20th century runs of the Boston Chronicle and the Providence Chronicle, the 19th century Woonsocket Patriot (1833-1836), the 18th century New-England Courant (1731-1735), the Weekly Rehearsal (1731-1735), and original issues of early American newspapers.
John O. Pastore (1907 – 2000) was an attorney and politician from Rhode Island. A member of the Democratic Party, he served in various capacities within the Rhode Island State Legislature from 1934 to 1944. In 1945, Pastore became the 61st governor of Rhode Island, a position he held until 1950. He was then elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served from 1950 to 1976. Pastore was the first Italian American elected to the Senate. He was appointed to the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy where he supported the peaceful use of atomic energy. As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee Communications Subcommittee, he sponsored the Communications Satellite Corporation Act of 1962 and the establishment of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 1967. The John O. Pastore papers consists of correspondence, legislative materials, news clippings, reports, campaign and election materials, public speeches, press releases, audiovisual materials, and photographs.
Robert E. Quinn (1894–1975), known as “Fighting Bob,” was an attorney and Democratic politician from Rhode Island who held a variety of offices. While a state senator to the General Assembly, he helped lead the Democratic senate filibuster of 1924. Elected lieutenant governor in 1932, he was the chief architect of the Bloodless Revolution of 1935. Appointed a justice to the RI Superior Court in 1941, he served in that capacity until he was appointed the first chief judge of the newly formed United States Court of Military Appeals by President Harry S. Truman in 1951. Quinn held this role for 25 years until just before his death in 1975. The bulk of this collection is comprised of a series of oral history interviews conducted in 1973. These tapes, which have been roughly transcribed, cover all phases of Quinn’s public service.
Encompassing what was once Camp Dyer, Quonset Point Naval Air Station was established as part of the Lend-Lease Act of 1941 and served as the major northeastern naval base during World War II. Quonset Point continued as a key naval facility well into the Cold War. Prior to its closure, it had been home to numerous aviation squadrons. During its heyday Quonset’s workforce, combined with that of the adjacent Davisville Construction Battalion Center, was the largest in the state of Rhode Island. Quonset Point was decommissioned on 28 June 1974 as part of a series of defense cutbacks which resulted in a nationwide reduction in bases following the end of the US engagement in Vietnam. The Quonset Point Naval Air Station collection contains records, reports, publications, scrapbooks, and photographs which detail the functions and operations of the base during and after World War II through its decommission in 1974. Significantly, the collection contains a complete run of The Quonset Scout, the newspaper of the base, which has been fully digitized and is available in Providence College Digital Collections.
The collection documents the activities of the Rhode Island Board #84 of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials from 1922 to 2000.
These papers contain journals, proposals, correspondence, committee reports and other material regarding an attempt to rewrite the Rhode Island Constitution. In 1968, voters overwhelmingly rejected the document produced by the Convention delegates.
The Rhode Island Constitutional Convention of 1973 was convened to amend the state’s constitution. The collection contains convention rules and other administrative documents, session journals, publicity, and research on the issues considered.
The collection contains resolutions, staff reports, committee reports, legal reports, and documentation concerning the adoption of the new constitution.
Rhode Island Association of Football Officials collection
From 1929 to 1931, due to inconsistent officiating and a rash of incidents at high school football games, the state secondary principals’ association and 25 independent football referees organized the Association of Football Officials of Rhode Island. With the goals of protecting the participants in the games and the integrity of the sport, the Association trained its members and conducted clinics. Arranged chronologically, the collection include correspondence, reports, meeting minutes, membership lists, photographs, clippings, and rule books. Finding aid not yet available, please contact the archives for more information about this collection.
Dennis J. Roberts (1903-1994) was a career politician in Rhode Island and a member of the Democratic Party, serving as a State Senator from 1935 to 1939, Mayor of Providence between 1940 and 1951, and Governor of Rhode Island for four terms from 1951 to 1959. While mayor, he took a leave of absence to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II. The documents that comprise this collection relate to his tenure in office as both Mayor of Providence and Governor of Rhode Island. In addition, the collection includes material documenting Roberts’ committee work to establish the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library.
The collection of Rev. Paul van K Thomson, former V.P of Academic Affairs at Providence College, consists of sermons, course materials, books and articles written by him, as well as news clippings, church bulletins, handwritten manuscripts, and annotated books from his personal library.
The National Urban League is a historic civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment, equality, and social justice. Founded in 1939, the Urban League of Rhode Island is an affiliate of the National Urban League. Its mission is the elimination of racial discrimination and segregation in the state, and the achievement of parity for Black Americans, other minorities, and the poor in every phase of American life. The organization implements its mission through advocacy, program service delivery, bridge building among the races, and research. The Urban League of Rhode Island collection contains a wide variety of materials, including correspondence, documents, pamphlets, research, and publications, which detail the functions and operations of the League both locally and nationally from the 1940s to the mid-1970s.
William E. Walsh (c.1832-1907) was born in King’s County, now called County Offaly, Ireland, and emigrated to the United States in his youth. Following the outbreak of the United States Civil War, Walsh enlisted as a private in the Union Army in Providence, Rhode Island, on December 2, 1861. He mustered out as a corporal on August 3, 1865. Written from his memory and notes taken while in the field, Walsh’s Notes in Brief recounts his experiences during the Civil War. Dated May 17, 1865, the diary includes comments on the battles in which his unit participated, prisoner conditions at the notorious Confederate-run Libby Prison, prominent military figures such as George Armstrong Custer, the treatment and performance of Irish recruits, and daily life in the Union Army. A digital version of Walsh’s diary is available in Providence College Digital Collections.
Charles Welsh (1850-1914) was born in England and trained as a blacksmith in addition to receiving certificates in arithmetic, English literature, and French. A publishing career soon followed, including a position at Griffith Farran Co., where he became a partner in 1884. Because of Welsh’s literary reputation and close connections in England and Ireland he was hired to be the managing editor of an anthology of Irish literature by the publishing house of John D. Morris & Co. in Philadelphia. This collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, reproductions of illustrations, and news clippings acquired by Charles Welsh while he was managing editor of the ten-volume anthology Irish Literature published in 1904.
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) was an American Quaker poet and advocate for the abolition of slavery in the United States. Devoted to social causes and reform, Whittier worked passionately for a series of abolitionist newspapers and magazines. His first book, Legends of New England in Prose and Verse, was published in 1831. For the next thirty years, until the Civil War, Whittier wrote essays, articles, and poems that were concerned with abolition. After the passage of the 13th amendment in the United States in 1865, Whittier turned his attention to topics of religion, nature, and rural life. His most popular work of poetry, Snow-Bound (1866) sold 20,000 copies upon publication. The John Greenleaf Whittier collection was compiled by Providence College professor, Dr. Bruce E. Graver. The collection consists of a series of correspondence composed by Whittier, copies of 19th century abolitionist newspapers, and various publications of Whittier’s poetry and writings. Selections from this collection are available online.