John Howland Collection
Providence, R.I. barber and civic leader
Collected papers, 1795-1857
Size: .25 ft.
Catalog number: MSS 499
Processed by: Rick Stattler, April 1995; updated by Karen Eberhart, March 2003
©Rhode Island Historical Society
John Howland (1757-1854) was born in Newport, Rhode Island. He was apprenticed to a Providence barber at the age of 13, and fought in the Revolution. He eventually came to own his own shop. He was prominent in virtually every aspect of the city's life during the eighty-four years he resided there, including the Providence Institution for Savings, the Providence Association for Mechanics and Manufacturers, the First Congregational Church, the Town Council, the Association for the Promotion of Domestic Industry, the Peace Society, Providence Library Company and the Rhode Island Historical Society. He served as Town Auditor and Town Treasurer for a combined 29 years. Probably the most noteworthy of his achievements was his effort on behalf of public education. As he recollected later, "I did what Roger Williams never attempted or never had a disposition to do, I formed and brought into existence the public schools of this town...as every vote on the subject passed in town meeting was moved or written by me..."
Howland married Mary Carlisle (1760-1845), and they had 13 children of whom only the following 5 survived infancy: Alfred (1790-1816), Penelope (Howland) Everett (1792-1869), Benjamin Russell (1793-1827), Janette (1801-1865, never married), and Mary Lyman?.
Biographical Cyclopedia of Rhode Island, page 148
Stone, Edwin M. The Life and Recollections of John Howland, late President of the Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence: George H. Whitney, 1857.
Rhode Island Cemetery Database
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Scope and content:
This collection contains Howland's extensive autobiographical notes, the texts for several of his lectures, correspondence, memorials, and other items.
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The provenance of some of this collection can be fixed for certain. The lecture entitled "An oration delivered before the Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers April 13, 1818" was donated in 1823 by William G. Goddard. The lecture entitled "Lecture read before the Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers...the 2d Monday of January 1799" was donated by Howland in 1828. The four letters to Rev. James D. Knowles dated 1831 and 1832 were donated by John A. Howland in 1866. The 1847 memorandum on Revolutionary General Stevens was donated by Russell DeSimone in 1989.
A scrapbook of John Howland materials was donated by Nancy Smith in 2003. The scrapbook arrived with a diary and other documents belonging to Rev. Edwin M. Stone. Stone became acquainted with Howland during the last years of Howland's life and wrote his biography which was published in 1857. The scrapbook contained correspondence, lectures, receipts and other materials relating to Howland's life. Many of the items in the scrapbook have in pencil the notation "used" and scraps of paper with references to the page number in the Stone biography where the document had been noted or transcribed. The notations were added to the documents before they were pasted into the scrapbook. The scrapbook may have been created by Edwin M. Stone or one of his descendants.
Included with the scrapbook donated in 2003 was a small booklet entitled "Extract from the records of the "Thacker Family" prepared by Hon George Thacker, late of Biddeford, ME." On that booklet was the following inscription: "from the John Howland Papers: collection in its original content was given by my aunt, Miss Mary Everett Knowles to the Rhode Island Historical Society a few were returned to my father John P. Knowles, Jr. Esq. - Marjorie Knowles" The only collection of material relating to Howland donated by Mary E. Knowles was given in 1911 and described as "Manuscripts for the most part formerly the property of John Howland." This may be a source of some of the items for which we do not have provenance.
The remainder of the collection probably dates from miscellaneous sources. In 1889, Elizabeth Howland donated "John Howland's manuscripts, etc.," which may account for the bulk. However, the arrival of some of the collection certainly dates from before that date. The 1820 lecture bears an inscription from Edwin M. Stone, the R.I.H.S. librarian from 1851 to 1880.
Folder 1 Agreements and Deeds
Deed for the sale of a shop or tenement by Richard Jackson to John Howland, March 3, 1797
Between Stephen Abbott of North Providence and John Howland of Providence to
erect a gangway between their lots on George Street, 12/27/1800.
Between Jabez Bowen and Nathan Waterman not to build within 10 feet of Benefit
Deed for sale of land in Portsmouth by Benjamin Howland to his brother John Howland, 10/17/1809
Deed for sale of land in Portsmouth by Henry Howland to his brother John Howland, 6/4/1810
Deed for sale of land in Portsmouth by Joseph Taber, Sally Carpenter and John Randall Carpenter to John Howland, 10/17/1814.
Folder 2 Autobiography
"Recollections of John Howland" or "Memorial of Events" written ca. 1840-1849.
Folder 3 Correspondence
1795/01/17 From Senator Theodore Foster, sending newspapers from Philadelphia
1798/04/16 From Senator Theodore Foster, sending newspapers and commenting on tensions with the French
1805/08/13 From W. Sheldon regarding turnip seeds mixed with bits of humor relating to Norse gods
1806/03/12 From W. Sheldon regarding various types of seeds, their prices and quality
1817/07/22 From Earl D. Pearce describing his objection to the requirement that buildings be constructed of brick and not wood in the town of Providence
1822/07/29 From Theodore Foster regarding his acceptance of the vice presidency of the Rhode Island Historical Society and a story about Governor Clarke refusing to serve in 1686 and hiding the Charter in Narragansett.
1822/11/27 To Secretary of the Essex Historical Society in Salem, MA regarding the delivery of gloves which had belonged to Massachusetts Governor Leverett also regarding the attempts to procure Roger Williams materials.
1824/01/27 From Benjamin Russell Howland in Nashville, TN on the presidential election and description of life and commerce in the "West."
1825/09 To Federal Adelphi Society regarding Howland donating a biography of Rev. James Manning to the society for its collections
1826/07/07 From Jos. L. Cooke regarding Howland's remarks on the "Great National Jubilee" about his ancestor Nicholas Cooke
1826/05/19 To unknown, as treasurer of the Providence Institution for Savings
1828/05/31 From Humphry Howland of Aurora, Cayuga County, New York, requesting a subscription to the periodical "Harbinger of Peace" and also a sketch of the Howlands of RI, the letter was written by L. Ever, the Post Master in Aurora
1828/11/21 From Wilkins Updike requesting Howland write narrative about RI lawyers
1829/01/01 From Amherst Everett conveying First Congregational Society votes of thanks to Howland for his years of service as clerk
1830/04/14 From Samuel W. Wheeler relaying vote of thanks from the Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers for his years of service
1831/01/27 To Rev. James D. Knowles, re Roger Williams
1831/02/23 To Rev. James D. Knowles, re Roger Williams
1831/03/18 From Moses Brown giving his support for a fire proof building for the public records or for a library on the East Side near the University. Also a comment on the testimony of Richard Scott regarding the instability of Roger Williams.
1832/02/02 To Rev. James D. Knowles, re Roger Williams
1832/03/05 To Rev. James D. Knowles, re Roger Williams
1833/01/06 To his daughter Mrs. Lyman discussing her choice of church
1833/11/22 From William C. Snow, discussing history of Beneficent Congregational Church and the history of RI
1835/09/04 From F. Wayland, President of Brown University informing Howland that Brown University had conferred upon him the degree of Master of Arts
1838/11/24 To Mary (his wife or daughter), discourse on Indians of North America and their possible origins; description of Indian grave found under Bowen street in Providence and disposition of artifacts found there
1840/04/02 From P.S. Townsend, re early Long Island genealogy
1840/05/12 From Georgia Historical Society written by J.K.Tefft awarding him honorary membership
1840/05/21 To J.K. Tefft of the Georgia Historical Society in response to conferring of an honorary membership in that society
1840/Oct Vote of thanks from Providence Institution for Savings for his years of service
1841/08/13 From P.S. Townsend, re early Long Island genealogy
1843/05/15 To American Philosophical Society as a representative of the Rhode Island Historical Society in response to invitation to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the APS
1845/08/06 From the New England Historic Genealogical Society, invitation to become a corresponding member of the organization
1845/09/08 From John Pierce thanking him for hospitality
1845/11/15 From the Pilgrim Society, invitation to attend a Dinner in honor of the 225th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims
1845/11/19 From Wilkins Updike requesting information about Col. Christopher Greene
1846/01/08 From S.P. Hildreth, re Eben Sproat and James M. Varnum of Marietta, Ohio
1846/01/27 From S.P. Hildreth, re early history of Marietta
1846/03/12 From S.P. Hildreth, re early history of Marietta
1846/12/08 From Tristam Burgess, help with resolving dispute over land owned by the Chace family
1847/11/01 From Rev. Edward B. Hall of First Unitarian Church in Providence with thanks for his years of service and friendship to the church
1848/10/03 From Thomas C. Hartshorn, notifying of appointment as president of R.I.H.S.
1849/03/30 From William S. Russell, sending Pilgrim John Howland document
1849/09 To Abraham Hammatt regarding genealogy of the Howland family
1849/12/10 From Tristam Burgess requesting information about Welcome Arnold
Folder 4 Lecture
"Lecture delivered in Newport" [before the Mechanics Association of Newport, Winter 1841]
Folder 5 Letters to newspapers
Draft of a piece Howland wrote to the Providence Gazette regarding the ratification of the U.S. Constitution by Rhode Island, June 1790
Draft of a letter to the paper regarding the proposed conscription of men for a war with Mexico [c. 1854]
To Providence tax assessors, claiming tax exemption for R.I.H.S., undated
Folder 6 Memorials to Howland, 1854-1857
Benevolent Congregational Society, 11/12/1854
Fred A. Farley, 11/8/1855
Funeral oration for John Howland at the First Congregational Church, 11/7/1854 (3 copies)
Rhode Island Peace Society, 11/21/1854
Rhode Island Historical Society, 11/6/1854
Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers, 6/14/1857
Folder 7 Memorials to Howland from newspapers, 1854-185
Folder 8 Military
Copy of affidavit describing military service of John Howland during the Revolution,
June 3, 1847
Memorandum on Revolutionary General Stevens, 1847
Commission as lieutenant in United Train of Artillery, 1796
Folder 9 Poems
Poem, "The Old Miller", by Avis C. Howland
Poetic address written by Paul Allen of Providence, Justice of the Peace, and delivered by Alfred Russell Howland (son of John Howland) on the occasion of the first visit of the Town Council to the Transit Street school in 1799 or thereabouts, Stone's Life of Howland, p145
Folder 10 Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers
"Lecture read before the Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers...the 2d Monday of January 1799
" "The original Mss of the lecture - the second of the series - delivered by John Howland before the Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers on January 14, 1799."
Invitation from Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers to John Howland to give
an address before the Association at the annual Election day, 01/18/1810
Memorial against taxes levied on manufacturers, 1815
"An oration delivered before the Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers April 13, 1818"
Note from a Mr. Messer [President of the Mechanics and Manufacturers? to Howland, Burr & Allen regarding his acceptance of an invitation to give an oration, undated
Address to the Association declining to serve longer as President, 1830
Memorials of the Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers (2):
To the City Council on schools, ca. 1832
To the U.S. Congress on tariffs, undated
Folder 11 Providence Institution for Savings
Request to the Providence Institution for Savings to reduce interest on town debt [1829?]
Folder 12 Providence Library Company
Receipt for funds from Treasurer Howland, 9/11/1816
Folder 13 Public Schools
Regulations for the instruction and government of the public schools in the Town of Providence, Richard K. Randolph and D. J. Peirce, Esq. Committee, 1800
Folder 14 Receipts
Receipt for taxes paid by Howland to the 20th Collection District, Providence 11/26/1800
Receipt from Isaac Tompkins to John Howland for one trunk of clothing property of the late William E. Lyon of Virginia, 6/3/1826
Folder 15 Religious
Report of the Providence Auxiliary Unitarian Association, by Howland for the Board of Directors [1832?], 1 printed sheet and 2 sheets of the original manuscript
Essay on the question of the Trinity and the beliefs of Unitarians, 1830
Invitation sent to each Church requesting they send two members to a meeting on June 3, 1828 at the house of William C. Barker to decide on the proper religious services for the July 4th celebration, May 26, 1828 signed by John Howland
Part of a reply to the Pamphlet sent Howland by Mr. Nichols, the publisher of the Baptist Paper in Boston, 1830
Folder 16 Rhode Island Historical Society
Bond given to the Rhode Island Historical Society by Elijah Clark, Bohan A. Clark, Lucian Skinner all of Boston and Enoch W. Clark and Joseph W. Clark of Providence in the amount of $5,000, April 12, 1831
"Introductory lecture, to the first course delivered at the request of the Rhode Island Historical Society", Nov. 18, 1835
Sentiment offered by John Howland, as President of the Rhode Island Historical Society at the semi-centennial anniversary of the inauguration of George Washington, an event held by the New York Historical Society, April 30, 1839
Letter of resignation as President of the Rhode Island Historical Society, 1848
Address given before the Rhode Island Historical Society introductory to a course of public lectures, undated, 32 pages
Second Lecture before the Rhode Island Historical Society, undated manuscript on the subject of the settlement of the Town of Providence
Folder 17 Society for the Promotion of Domestic Industry
"Address delivered in the meeting house at Pawtuxet at the first celebration of the Society for the Promotion of Domestic Industry", October 18, 1820.
From Rhode Island Society for the Encouragement of Domestick Industry giving thanks for Howland's address and requesting a copy thereof for publication signed by Samuel W. Bridgham, Richard Anthony, and William E. Richmond, Oct. 18, 1820
Domestic Industry Lottery, 1821
Folder 18 State Debt
Essay on the old state debt, undated
Folder 19 Thacker Family
Extract from the records of the "Thacker Family" prepared by Hon George Thacker, late of Biddeford, ME Page 236 regarding the encounter of George Thacker with John Howland and their conversation regarding the connections between their families, 1816
Folder 20 Theatre
Notes of support for theatre from William Tingley, Christopher Dexter, George Freeman, John[?].1813
Memorandum of cash paid for the Theatre - written by Jeremiah Olney and inscribed by George Olney, 04/01/1813
Report of the Committee on the Theatre as appointed by the Town Council consisting of John Howland, Jonathan Adams and William Church, April, 1813
Folder 21 Town Council resolutions and reports
Moses Lippitt, Grindall Reynolds and John Howland appointed a committee to widen and straighten Benefit and Williams streets, 04/17/1801
John Howland, William Larned, Jonathan W. Coy, Nathan Waterman and James Burrill appointed a committee to determine original lines of the gangway leading eastward from the Main Street, 09/19/1803
Report of Health Committee from John Howland, John Spurr, Paris J. Tillinghast and Jonathan W. Coy on the old distillery owned by John Eveleth and its danger to the health of the community, 08/20/1803
John Howland, William Larned, Richard Jackson, Jr. and Zephariah Brown appointed a committee to consider a gangway from Snow Street to High Street, 11/18/1803
John Howland, Richard Jackson, Jr. and John Carlisle appointed a committee to lay out a street between George Street and Angell Street, 7/20/1815
Amasa Mason, John Carlile, Rufus Waterman, John Howland, William Wilkinson, Calvin Dean and J. Metcalf appointed committee to investigate the subject of prohibiting building with wood in the compact part of Providence, 6/2/1817
John Howland, Joseph Sweet, and Truman Beckwith appointed a commission to investigate extending a drain on North Main all the way to the river to prevent water from flooding homes, 6/16/1823
Folder 22 Town Treasurer
Town treasurer oaths, 1818-1831
Certificates showing John Howland elected Town Treasurer, June 14, 1820 and June 3, 1829
Receipt for Town of Providence papers, records, accounts and cash held by John Howland as Town Treasurer, June 7, 1832
Transferred to Printed Division
Howland, John. An Address Delivered Before the Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers, April 9, 1810: Being the Anniversary of the Choice of Officers in the Association, Providence: From the Press of Jones & Wheeler, 1810.
Letter from John Howland, Esq. Relative to the Rhode-Island Regiment, Commanded by Col. Christopher Lippitt, in the Years 1776 and 1777, Providence: H.H. Brown Printer, 1831. [Included the following inscription on the cover sheet "Richmond Everett from his Grandfather John Howland"]
Howland, John. Address delivered before the Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers, on the occasion of opening Mechanics' Hall, January 10, A.D. 1825, Providence: H.H. Brown Printer, 1830.
Hall, Edward B. A Discourse Delivered Before the Rhode-Island Historical Society, February 6, 1855 on the Life and Times of John Howland, Late President of the Society, Providence : George H. Whitney, 1855.
Howland, John. An Oration Delivered Before the Providence Association of Mechanicks and Manufacturers, April 13, 1818, Being the Anniversary of the Choice of Officers, Providence: Printed by Miller and Hutchens, 1818. [Included the following inscriptions "Penelope Everett's presented her by her Father"; Take good care of this Book P E"]
Howland, John. Address Delivered Before the Providence Association of Mechanicks and Manufacturers, on the Occasion of Opening Mechanics' Hall, January 10, 1825, Providence: H.H. Brown Printer, 1830.
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Brown, Moses, 1738-1836.
Burgess, Tristam, 1770-1853.
Foster, Theodore, 1752-1828.
Hildreth, Samuel P., 1783-1863.
Howland, Avis C.
Indians of North America - Rhode Island.
Knowles, James D., 1798-1838.
Ohio - History.
Providence (R.I.) - History.
Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers.
Providence Auxiliary Unitarian Association.
Providence Institution for Savings.
Rhode Island Historical Society.
Schools - Rhode Island - Providence.
United States - History - Revolution, 1775-1783.
Williams, Roger, 1603-1682.
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