1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 Willis H. White Family Papers

 Of Providence, R.I.

 Family papers, 1805-1909. Bulk, 1877-1909.

 Size: .75 ft.

 Catalog number: MSS 1111

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, December 2002

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Willis Harkness White (1862-1946) was born in Millville, Massachusetts, the son of carpenter John Baker White (1820-1899) and Maranda (Harkness) White (1824-1867). He had two full siblings: Ella A. (White) Sherman (1853-) and John Burtis White (1856-). The family moved to North Uxbridge, Mass. in 1865. Willis's mother died when he was young, and his father re-married to Julia A. (Roper) White in 1869.

            In 1880, Willis left Uxbridge to work for almost three years at the Hamilton Web Company in Hamilton, R.I. He then worked from August 1882 to May 1883 at the Provident Life and Trust in Providence, and spent a year as a bookkeeper at the Albion Company. He worked as a clerk in the grocery store of Benjamin C. Sweet in Hillsgrove, R.I. circa 1886 to 1889, and then became secretary and assistant treasurer of the Hope Webbing Company in Pawtucket in 1889, where he remained for many years.

            In his personal life, White was an active Prohibitionist. He converted to the Quaker faith and joined the Greenwich Monthly Meeting shortly before marrying Emily Sisson (1856-1945), daughter of Asa and Mary (Peck) Sisson, in 1883. Their children were Mary H. White (1884-1979) (m. Arthur L. Flagg in 1910), Charles Howard White (1885-1975), Louisa White (1894-1980), and Edward Asa White (1896-1994). The family resided in Providence from 1889 onward, but summered at the family farm in North Uxbridge.



Crane, Ellery B., ed. Historical Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County, Massachusetts..., Vol. II, 266-268. New York: Lewis Publishing Co., 1907

Grieve, Robert. An Illustrated History of Pawtucket, Central Falls, and Vicinity, 477-478. Pawtucket, R.I.: Pawtucket Gazette, 1897.

Rhode Island marriages, 1883, page 299

Sisson, Joan and David, Descendants of Richard and Mary Sisson, 382. Livermore, Cal.: Published by the authors, 1999.

Social Security Death Index

1900 U.S. Census, Rhode Island E.D. 19, page 10

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Scope and content:

            This collection consists almost entirely of White's personal financial records, and of family correspondence. The financial records include a complete run of cash books from 1882 to 1909, and of provisions expense books from 1884 to 1909. The correspondence was mostly received by White at Hamilton from 1880 to 1883, from his stepmother, brother, sister, and his future wife Emily Sisson. Also included is a notebook of White's insurance sales on behalf of the firm of Gifford & White, who served as agents for the Provident Life & Trust Company of Philadelphia.

            The collection also includes an 1805 Quaker letter of uncertain significance to the family. The 1805 letter was sent from Newport Quaker Abigail Robinson to a married Quaker named Lydia W--, whose father lived in East Greenwich. This was possibly Lydia (Cooke) Wickes (1762-1817), a Cranston Quaker. She was apparently an ancestor of Emily (Sisson) White, who had an aunt born as Lydia Wickes Peck according to Greenwich Monthly Meeting Quaker records.

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            The bulk of these papers were donated in 2002 by Willis H. White II (grandson of Charles H. White), on behalf of the John Baker White Family Association. The R.I.H.S. membership certificate was donated in 1998 by Chris Haddad.

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Willis H. White

Box 1, folder 1. Cash journals, 1882-1887 and 1887-1891

Box 1, folder 2. Cash journal, 1901-1908

Box 1, folder 3. Cash journal, 1909

Box 1, folder 4. Provisions expense book, 1884-1891

Box 1, folder 5. Provisions expense book, 1892-1901

Box 2, folder 1. Provisions expense book, 1901-1909

Box 2, folder 2. Accounts with Hillsdale Grocery, 1887-1890

Box 2, folder 2. Gifford & White sales of Provident Life & Trust insurance, 1882-1883

Box 2, folder 3. Letters rec'd: from Fannie C. Carpenter, 6/15/1880

Box 2, folder 4. Letters rec'd: from future wife Emily Sisson, 1881-1889 (mostly 1881-1882)

Box 2, folder 5. Letters rec'd: from sister Ella White, 1877-1886 and undated

Box 2, folder 6. Letters rec'd: from brother J. Burtis White, 1879-1881

Box 2, folder 7. Letters rec'd: from stepmother Julia (Roper) White, 1880

Oversized storage: Rhode Island Historical Society membership certificate, 1896

Charles H. White

Box 2, folder 8. Letters rec'd from parents, 1905-1909, while at Massachusetts Agricultural College in Amherst.

Emily (Sisson) White

Box 2, folder 9. Letter from husband Willis H. White, 6/23/1889


Box 2, folder 10. Letter from Abigail Robinson of Newport to Lydia [Wickes?], 3/27/1805.

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Gifford & White (Providence, R.I.)

Hamilton Web Co. (North Kingstown, R.I.)

Insurance, Life - Rhode Island.

Massachusetts Agricultural College (Amherst, Mass.)

Providence (R.I.) - Social life and customs.

Quakers - Rhode Island.

Robinson, Abigail.

x Sisson, Emily, 1856-1945.

Sweet, Benjamin C.

White, Charles H., 1885-1975.

White, Ella A., 1853-.

White, Emily (Sisson), 1856-1945.

White, John Burtis, 1856-.

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