1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

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 Elizabeth (Nicholson) White Family Papers

 Historian and author of Providence, R.I.

 Family papers, 1888-1980

 Size: 1 linear foot

 Catalog number: MSS 1070

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, April 2001

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Elizabeth (Nicholson) White (1877-1961) was the daughter of William T. Nicholson (1834-1893) and Elizabeth (Gardner) Nicholson (1833-1899). Her father was the founder of the Nicholson File Company, the largest manufacturer of files and rasps in the world. She married Merwin White (1877-1920), the president of a coal company in Providence. They had five children: Thomas N. (1910-1980), Samuel M., John R., Elizabeth G. (White) (Herbert) Hughes (1913-1987), and Kate M. (White) White (1913-1979).

            Merwin White died in 1920, and Elizabeth soon remarried to Stephen E. Hopkins, a Providence investment broker. By 1929, the marriage had ended in divorce, and Elizabeth had again taken the name Elizabeth Nicholson White. She became active in the National Society of Colonial Dames, and the Alliance Francaise. She also became a prolific author of historical fiction based on the lives of her colonial-era ancestors. Among her publications were:


The Star of La Rochelle: Being the True Story of the Life of Esther Leroy, Wife of Gabriel Bernon, 1652-1710, 1930

Mary Browne: The True Life and Times of the Daughter of Mr. John Browne..., 1935

"A Record of William Coddington, Esquire," 1938

"Gregory Dexter: Master Printer in London, 1641-1643...", 1940

Will Nicholson: A Simple Account of the Days of Old England from 1550 to 1640..., 1948

            Her daughter Elizabeth married New York illustrator James D. Herbert (1896-1970) of Providence. After his death she remarried to A.M. Hughes.


Providence directories

Rhode Island Cemetery Database

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Scope and content:

            Elizabeth (Nicholson) White's papers consist mostly of correspondence, and of research notes pertaining to her historical books. She received letters from family members; libraries and friends who had received her books; and from the organizations she was involved in, particularly the Colonial Dames and the Alliance Francaise. A large portion of her correspondence (filed separately) relates to her interest in France, including many letters written in French by friends in France and America.

            The collection also includes a several folders of papers from White's daughter Elizabeth G. (White) Herbert, usually referred to as "Betty." Her papers include family correspondence, essays and poetry. Also included are two folders of the papers of Betty's husband James D. Herbert, a successful painter and fashion illustrator who worked with Norman Rockwell during World War II. His papers include family correspondence and a folder relating to his "Raw-Eating" diet.

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            These papers were purchased from What Cheer Antiques in Providence in 2001. They had previously been the property of manuscript collector Lawrence DiPetrillo.

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Elizabeth (Nicholson) White correspondence:

Folder 1. 1888-1929

Folder 2. 1930-1931 (mostly re Star of La Rochelle)

Folder 3. 1932-1939

Folder 4. 1940-1960

Folder 5. Undated

Elizabeth (Nicholson) White - France materials

Re Alliance Francaise, American Relief for France, travel in France, etc. In French and English.

Folder 6. Correspondence, 1919-1930

Folder 7. Correspondence, 1931-1934

Folder 8. Correspondence, 1935-1952

Folder 9. Correspondence, undated

Folder 10. Diary from trip to France, July 1928. One page.

Folder 11. Diary from trip to France, July 1928. Photocopy for reference use.

Folder 12. Travel brochures and receipts, 1918-1936

Folder 13. Miscellaneous

Elizabeth (Nicholson) White - Publications and writings

Folder 14. Star of La Rochelle / Gabriel Bernon. Early drafts and notes, 1930.

Folder 15. Mary Browne. Early drafts and notes, 1935

Folder 16. Mary Browne. Notebooks, 1935

Folder 17. Mary Browne. Orders and distribution, 1935

Folder 18. William Coddington. Drafts and notes, 1938

Folder 19. William Coddington. Notebooks, 1938.

Folder 20. Gregory Dexter. Early draft and notes, 1940.

Folder 21. Will Nicholson. Notes, 1948

Folder 22. "Five Score," posthumous recollections compiled in 1977

Folder 23. "Back to the Old World," undated essay

Folder 24. "The Cruisers," undated essay

Folder 25. "February Talks," undated essay

Folder 26. "Illustrated Historical Outline of Rhode Island," undated

Folder 27. "Captain William Kidd," by Thomas B. Fielders. Undated manuscript.

Elizabeth (Nicholson) White - Miscellaneous

Folder 28. Death and estate, 1961

Folder 29. Gabriel Bernon Society minute book, 1935-1957

Folder 30. Merwin White estate, 1928-1937

Folder 31. National Society of Colonial Dames - Committee on Americanization minutes, undated circa 1929.

Folder 32. Miscellaneous:

            List of furniture in mother's estate, circa 1899

            Receipt for bequest from Mary L.L. Mauran estate, 1958

            "Song Told to Me by My Cook Bessie," undated

Elizabeth G. (White) (Herbert) Hughes

Folder 33. Correspondence, 1947-1954 and undated, with husband James D. Herbert

Folder 34. Correspondence, 1961-1980

Folder 35. Huguenot Society of Rhode Island - Papers and correspondence, 1965

Folder 36. Poetry, memoirs and essay on Norman Rockwell

Folder 37. Wedding book and related papers, 1945

Folder 38. Miscellaneous:

            List of residences, 1913-1947

            School report, Wheeler School, 1923

            Five school reports, St. Mary's School, 1929-1930

            Agreement to loan table to Cathedral of St. John, 1976 (unsigned)

James D. Herbert

Folder 39. Correspondence, 1918-1949 (mostly re mother's 1945 death)

Folder 40. Correspondence, etc., 1945-1969, re "Raw-Eating" diet

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Alliance Francaise

American Relief for France Inc.


Bacon, Helen (Hazard) (1862-1925)

Bernon, Gabriel (1644-1736)

Boardman, William R. (1877-1901)

Coddington, William (1601-1687)

Diaries, 1928

Diet therapy - Rhode Island

Downes, Louis W. (1865-1953)

Elliott, Maud (Howe) (1854-1948)

Fay, Edward M. (1875-1971)

Fielders, Thomas B.

Fogarty, John E. (1913-1967)

France - Foreign relations - 20th century - United States

Gabriel Bernon Society

Geneva Mill (Providence, R.I.)

Hazard, Caroline (1856-1945)

Hazard, Edward H.

Herbert, Elizabeth G. (White) (1913-1987)

Herbert, James D. (1896-1970)

x Hopkins, Elizabeth (Nicholson) (White)(1877-1961)

x Hughes, Elizabeth G. (White) (Herbert)(1913-1987)

Huguenot Society of Rhode Island

Kidd, William (1645-1701)

Motion picture industry - Finance

National Society of Colonial Dames

x Nicholson, Elizabeth (1877-1961)

Nicholson, Paul C. (1888-1956)

Nicholson, William T. (1834-1893)

Perry, Marsden J. (1850-1935)

Providence District Nursing Association

Raw food diet

Rhode Island - History

Rockwell, Norman (1894-1978)

Sharpe, Henry D. Sr. (1872-1954)

Stillwell, Margaret (Bingham) (1887-1984)

Union Saint-Jean-Baptiste D'Amerique (Woonsocket, R.I.)

x White, Elizabeth G. (1913-1987)

Willett, Mary (Browne) (1614-1669)

Willett, Thomas (1610-1674)

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