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

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 Nickerson House Records

 Community center, Providence, R.I.

 Records, 1884-2001

 Size: 4 ft.

 Catalog number: MSS 1122

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, July 2003

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            In 1883, a group began meeting to found a network of day nurseries in Providence. They were led by Episcopalian clergyman David H. Greer. They founded the Grace Memorial Home for that purpose, dedicated in 1885 and incorporated in 1886. It was located on Delaine Street in the industrial village of Olneyville, on the far western border of Providence. Another nursery on Ship Street in downtown Providence was started in 1887, and the name was changed to the Providence Day Nursery Association in 1890. In 1895, the association began offering the first kindergarten classes in Rhode Island, before they were mandated for public schools. The Ship Street nursery moved to nearby Chestnut Street in 1896 and became the Hope Day Nursery. This was followed by mother's meetings in 1904, sewing classes in 1910, and a free dental clinic in 1915. The nursery had begun to take on many of the traditional functions of a settlement house.

            A $20,000 gift from Lyra Brown Nickerson in 1916 funded the construction of a new building known as the Nickerson House, which allowed the organization to start the first community health center in Providence. The Hope nursery was closed and merged into this new facility. Outdoor youth recreation became a recurring focus with the Nickerson House Tigers semi-pro football team in 1925, the first supervised playground in Providence in 1926, and a girls' summer camp on borrowed land in Chepachet from 1931 to 1935. Later, Camp Hamilton in Coventry, R.I. was opened in 1958 on land donated by the Narragansett Brewing Company.

            The agency changed its name to Nickerson House, Inc. in 1949. A fire destroyed the building in 1959, but the Nickerson Community Center was opened in 1961 after a successful reconstruction campaign. More recent achievements have included a food bank in 1982, a clothing bank in 1991, a tenement purchased for low-income housing in 1995, and a transitional housing facility for homeless veterans in 1998. Nickerson House is still in operation on the site of the original Grace Memorial Home in Olneyville.

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Scope and content:

            This collection consists primarily of scrapbooks, meeting minutes, and historical notes. The scrapbooks represent a complete run from 1922 to 1983, and include newspaper clippings, correspondence, memoranda, and program memorabilia. Some loose clippings have been removed and filed separately.

            The collection is fairly extensive from 1922 to 1983, but includes very little material from the earliest days of the Providence Day Nursery Association from 1884 to 1922. Records from this early period include minutes of two annual meetings in 1884 and 1885; typed copies of annual reports from 1885 to 1887; a folder of deeds and bequests from 1885 to 1907; a wiring contract from 1916; a 1911 Hope Nursery report; and a copy of a 1917 newspaper clipping.

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            These records were donated by the Nickerson Community Center in 2003.


Box 1:

Annual meeting agenda, 1950; minutes, 2001

Annual meeting minutes, 1884, 1885

Annual meeting minute book, 1927-1946

Annual reports (typescript), 1885-1887, 1916, 1938, 1940

Board minutes, 1958-1960

Board minutes, 1961-1963

Board minutes, 1964-1966

Board minutes, 1966-1969

Board minutes, 1976-1979

Board minutes, 1980-1982

Board minutes, 1983-1984

Building plans, 1960

Building reconstruction drive, 1959

Correspondence and memoranda, 1956-1986

Deeds and bequests, 1885-1907, 1969

Electrical wiring contract, 1916 (John H. Cady, architect)

Executive director's reports, 1980-1984

Finance Committee minutes, 1957-1969

Financial statements, 1925, 1983-1984

Fund-raising notes, undated

History, 1923

History, 1950

History - Centennial Capital Campaign, 1983 (including notes on families of early board members)

History - "First Gala," 1993 (110th anniversary)

History - Various short histories and descriptions, circa 1946-1985

Hope Day Nursery report, 1911

Incorporation, 1886

Needs assessment study, 1981-1984

Newspaper clippings (photocopied), 1917-1992 and undated

Program materials, 1925-1983 and undated

Program registration book, 1978-1979

Tribute to former treasurer Mrs. Mary E. (Taft) Smith, circa 1925

Other organizations:

            American Cancer Society communications marketing plan, 1991

            Antonelli hazardous waste dump, 1982

            Manton Avenue Parent-Teacher Association scrapbook and history, 1950-1954

            Providence Civilian Defense Canning Committee report, October 1943

            STONE (STop Olneyville NEglect) minutes, etc., 1977-1979


In Box 2. 1922-1930

In Box 2. 1931-1935

In Box 2. 1936-1943

In Box 2. 1944-1950 (with a few 1934 items)

In Box 3. 1949-1951 (disbound)

In Box 2. 1951-1954

In Box 2. 1957-1958

In Box 3. 1957-1960 (disbound)

In Box 3. 1959-1960

In Box 3. 1961-1962

In Box 3. 1963-1964

In Box 3. 1964-1967

In Box 4. 1968-1970 (disbound)

Oversized: 1971-1972

In Box 4. 1973-1977 (disbound)

In Box 4. 1978-1983

In Box 4. Camp Hamilton scrapbook, 1960

In Box 4. Camp Hamilton scrapbook, 1961

In Box 4. Camp Hamilton scrapbook, 1962

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American Cancer Society.

Antonelli Plating Company (Providence, R.I.)

Camp Hamilton (Coventry, R.I.)

Canning and preserving - Rhode Island - Providence.

Charities - Rhode Island - Providence.

Community centers - Rhode Island - Providence.

Coventry, R.I. - Social life and customs.

Day care centers - Rhode Island - Providence.

Dental clinics - Rhode Island - Providence.

Football - Rhode Island - Providence.

Grace Memorial Home (Providence, R.I.)

Hazardous waste sites - Location - Law and legislation - Rhode Island.

Hope Day Nursery (Providence, R.I.)

Human services - Rhode Island - Providence.

Manton Parent-Teacher Association (Providence, R.I.)

Nickerson Community Center (Providence, R.I.)

Olneyville, R.I. - Social life and customs.

Parents' and teachers' associations - Rhode Island - Providence.

Providence Civilian Defense Canning Committee.

Providence Day Nursery Association.

Public health - Rhode Island - Providence.

Smith, Mary E. (Taft)

Social settlements - Rhode Island - Providence.


Stop Olneyville Neglect (Providence, R.I.)

World War, 1939-1945 - Civilian relief - Rhode Island - Providence.

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