1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Inventory

5.   Subjects

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 Providence Free Kindergarten


  Records, 1882-1912. Bulk, 1882-1900.

 Size: 1 linear foot

 Catalog number: MSS 158

 Processed by: Kris Callahan, June 1993

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            The Providence Free Kindergarten Association was established in 1884, although Mrs. Caroline M.N. Alden had been cultivating a kindergarten program in Rhode Island since 1879. Among those to incorporate the Providence Free Kindergarten Association were the first president Mrs. Moses B.I. Goddard, Mrs. Amasa M. Eaton, Sarah E. Doyle, Caroline M.N. Alden, and John L. Lincoln. The group consisted of a president, six vice presidents, a treasurer, an assistant treasurer, a board of managers consisting of approximately 25 members and five others formed an executive board.      The object of the association was to introduce the Kindergarten or Frobelian method of teaching by qualified teachers into the public schools.

            The Association had four objectives: 1) to devise an orderly method of development of the child's faculties; 2) to use the child's natural desire for play and hand activity as a means of education; 3) to develop moral development in the child's acts, language and behavior before the opportunity for impression is lost; 4) to teach the child to be in command of his faculties for primary school and to ensure good habits of industry are developed.

            There were further goals for the "criminal and pauper class": 1) to take the child out of the surroundings that promote anti-social behavior and replace it with educating and refining influences; 2) through games and occupation, put happiness and discipline into the child's life that otherwise would not have been there; 3) to constantly stimulate the child in order to keep them from anti-social behavior; 4) to train the hand and eye and develop of the creative mind, which makes employment natural and inviting, thus creating a citizen who would be less probable to be a pauper. The program was designed for all children who were too young to enter primary school regardless of nationality, religion or race.

            The first location for the Kindergarten to be accepted by the city was on Smith Street. Twenty four other locations were opened before the association disbanded, including Pleasant Street, Chestnut Street, and Thayer Street. By l900, the Association had met their goal of establishing a kindergarten program in the public schools and dissolved. In l9l2, the group met one more time, for its twenty-fifth anniversary.

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Scope and content:

            Much of the collection consists of minutes of association meetings, annual reports, the constitution and correspondence to and from members. There is little information on actual child instruction. The financial records contain salaries and expenses. A membership book and donation book is also included. A scrapbook contains letters, announcements, annual reports and newspaper articles. The collection spans from 1884 to 1912, with a program from the twenty-fifth anniversary festival of the kindergarten.

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            Most or all of these volumes arrived by gift circa 1911, from an unknown donor. The gift does not seem to be recorded in the accession books, but it is mentioned in the Proceedings of the Rhode Island Historical Society for 1910-1911, page 20.

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Volume 1. Reports, l882-1900 (and twenty-fifth anniversary program from 1912)

Volume 2. Reports from individual Kindergartens, 1896-1902

Volume 3. Minutes, l884-l894

Volume 4. Minutes, newspaper clipping, letters, l884-l895

Volume 5. Minutes, l894-19l2

Volume 6. Scrapbook/letters, l882-l897

Volume 7. Financial records, l892-l906

Volume 8. Ledger, 1893-1897 (includes membership and donations)

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Kindergartens - Rhode Island - Providence

Providence, R.I. - Schools

Schools - Rhode Island - Providence

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