Charitable and educational organization of Providence, RI
Size: 1.5 ft.
Catalog number: MSS 33
Processed by: Maureen Taylor, Mary 1981
©Rhode Island Historical Society
The Providence Housewives League, organized by a small group of women interested in investigating the quality of food and establishing fair market practices, held their first meeting September 27, 1912. Within a few months, the League voted to become a local branch of the National Housewives League. Membership was open to men and women. Committees were formed to control their activities. They published a monthly bulletin, which later became a magazine. During World War I the members formed a food conservation committee that was taken over by the Federal Food Administration. The League also managed a Dietetic Bureau which developed into the Cooperative Nutrition Bureau of RI.
After the war the Providence Housewives League became interested in teaching useful skills that could be used in the home or workplace and in assisting underprivileged families by finding employment through the Federation of Household Occupations. They also provided clothing at a low price through the community Service Salvage Shop, a cooperative venture sponsored by the League, the Girls City Club and the Consumers League. The result of the alteration in activities was a change in affiliation from the National Housewives League to the American Homemakers, Inc. The Homemakers purpose was to train individuals for the business of homemaking and to promote the welfare of the home. The Providence branch operated the Salvage Shop, the Cake Shop which sold baked goods and the Home Information Center or RI Center through which classes could be attended for a small fee. The center was considered an educational facility so reports had to filed with the State Board of Education. The types of classes held depended on the needs of the public that used the center. The membership also invited lecturers to speak on various topics relating to the home and was involved in an Annual Better Homes week held in East Providence.
During the period immediately preceding World War II the group attracted media attention because of the activities of two of its members. Ida S. Harrington assisted by Eleanor K. Dearborn gave weekly radio talks on household problems and recipes. Harrington also wrote a column for the Providence Evening Bulletin entitled "Helps for Homemakers." She was later appointed a member of Hoover's Presidents Commission of Home Information Centers while Dearborn joined the Red Cross in North Africa.
The Homemakers continued to be active throughout World War II, but dissolved in 1946 when the Center received notice to vacate its headquarters due to the housing shortage. The corporation remained intact to handle all business matters generated by the continued operation of the Salvage Shop.
The Providence Housewives League began as a volunteer organization that became successful enough to organize committees, elect an executive board and appoint a board of trustees. All committees and officials reported to the executive board. The American Homemakers, Inc. retained this organization structure. Through dues and activities the organization was able to avoid accumulating a deficit even during the depression. These funds were used to back events and hire qualified individuals to control the more specialized activities such as the RI Center.
Return to top
Scope and content:
The collection is arranged according to the administrative divisions of the Providence Housewives League and the American Homemakers, Inc. and their committees. All of the chairmen submitted annual reports and, depending on the particular president's policy, monthly ones. The collection includes these reports, meeting minutes, treasurer's reports and publicity material. There are several scrapbooks of news clippings relating to activities. Also included are the evaluation sheets used by the League in their inspection of markets and factories. Ida S. Harrington is well represented in the organizational records. Her newspaper columns and radio program scripts are included. There is also some biographical material and Harrington and Eleanor K. Dearborn.
Return to top
This collection was a gift of Millie Longo in 1978.
Return to top
23 photographs removed to the Graphics Department.
Return to top
Series I: Providence Housewives League, 1912 - 1927
Series I, Subseries A: Meeting Minutes
Box 1, Folder 1 Minutes of the regular meetings 1924-1927
Box 1, Folder 2 Executive Board meetings 1924-1926
Box 1, Folder 3 Executive Board meetings 1926
Box 1, Folder 4 Minutes of Council meetings 1924-1925
Volume 1 Minutes of Council, General, and Executive 1912-1914
Volume 2 Council, Board of Directors, and Executive Board 1914-1916
Series I, Subseries B: Annual Reports
Box 1, Folder 5 Annual report of the Secretary 1912-1923
Series I, Subseries C: Evaluation Forms
Box 1, Folder 6 Forms for candy factories 1914-1916
Box 1, Folder 7 Forms for markets and groceries c.1916-1917
Series I, Subseries D: Publicity
Box 1, Folder 8 Publicity information n.d.
Series I, Subseries E: Committees
Box 1, Folder 9 Pamphlet and report of the Bureau of Household 1926-1927
Box 1, Folder 10 Bylaws for Community Service Salvage Shop n.d
Box 1, Folder 11 Miscellaneous material on Community Service 1922-ca. 1924
Box 1, Folder 12 Miscellaneous material on the Dietetic Committee 1920-1925
[Missing as of September, 2007]
Series II: American Homemakers, Inc., Providence Branch, 1927-1946
Series II, Subseries A: Records
Subseries A, Subgroup 1: Reports
Box 1, Folder 13 Annual reports of organization 1927-1943
Box 1, Folder 14 Annual reports of Executive Director 1927-ca. 1946
Box 1, Folder 15 Annual reports of the Recording Secretary c.1931-1940
Box 1, Folder 16 Monthly reports of the Executive Director 1928-1939
Box 1, Folder 17 Treasurer's reports 1927-1946
Subseries A, Subgroup 2: Meeting minutes
Box 1, Folder 18 Regular meetings 1927
Box 1, Folder 19 Executive Board meetings 1927-1939
Box 1, Folder 20 Committee meetings and appointments 1938-1946
Box 1, Folder 21 Ways and Means Committee 1932
Subseries A, Subgroup 3: Membership
Box 1, Folder 22 Membership list and committee report 1946
Box 1, Folder 23 Necrology list 1932-1933
Volume 1 Membership dues 1945-1947
Subseries A, Subgroup 4: Correspondence
Box 1, Folder 24 Correspondence 1927
Subseries A, Subgroup 5: Closing of the Chapter
Box 1, Folder 25 Material relating to the closing of the chapter 1946
Series II, Subseries B: Publicity
Subseries B, Subgroup 1: Newspapers
Box 1, Folder 26 News clippings of activities and "Helps for Homemakers" 1927-1932
Box 1, Folder 27 News clippings of activities and Better Homes Week 1931-1932
Box 2, Folder 1 News clippings of activities and Better Homes Week 1933-1937
Box 2, Folder 2 News clippings of activities 1927-1928
Box 2, Folder 3 News clippings of activities 1937-1940
Box 2, Folder 4 News clippings of activities 1940-1945
Subseries B, Subgroup 2: Radio
Box 2, Folder 5 Recipes and talks by Ida S. Harrington c.1935-1936
Box 2, Folder 6 Radio talks - WPRO 1935-1936
Subseries B, Subgroup 3: Miscellaneous
Box 2, Folder 7 Materials relating to activities 1927-1929
Box 2, Folder 8 Materials relating to Salvage Shop and Home Information n.d.
Center, also contains chronology of Providence
Series II, Subseries C: Committees
Subseries C, Subgroup 1: Cake Shop
Box 2, Folder 9 Report of the Cake Shop Committee 1928
Volume 2 Ledger Sept. - March, unid. year
Subseries C, Subgroup 2: Community Service Salvage Shop
Box 2, Folder 10 Minutes, reports, correspondence 1927-1933
Subseries C, Subgroup 3: Home Information Center
Box 2, Folder 11 Bylaws including drafts 1927-1942
Box 2, Folder 12 Pamphlet, publicity sheet and report 1927-1931
Box 2, Folder 13 Educational Committee and Committee to Raise Money 1927
Box 2, Folder 14 Classes offered and fees charged 1940-1945
Series II, Subseries D: Miscellaneous
Box 2, Folder 15 Posture studies 1921-1929
Box 2, Folder 16 Articles by Ida S. Harrington 1924-1933
Box 2, Folder 17 Biography of Ida S. Harrington 1934
Box 2, Folder 18 Petition and unidentified meeting notes ?-1944
Volume 3 Guest books for Exhibits 1944-1945
Return to top
Providence Housewives Leagues
Housewives League (U.S.)
Harrington, Ida S.
Home economics extension work