1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

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 B. Franklin Spooner Family Papers

 Owned 'fancy goods and notions' shop in Providence, R.I.

 Family and business papers, 1880-1994 (bulk 1916-1953)

 Size: 2 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 184

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, August 1994

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Benjamin Franklin Spooner (1868-1937) was born in Providence, the son of Benjamin and Annie (Luther) Spooner. He married Laura Nancy Jenks (1869-1951), and worked as a salesman for several years. In 1900, he opened a wholesale "fancy goods and notions" shop on Washington Street in Providence, and moved his residence the same year to Eden Park in Cranston. The business, operated under his name, was very successful. Upon Spooner's retirement in 1937, the stock was liquidated. He died shortly thereafter.

            B.F. and Laura Spooner had six surviving children, the oldest being Leroy Arnold Spooner (1892-1970). Leroy attended Brown University on a scholarship, graduating in 1914. He married Edna Lucile Maine (1891-1981); they had two children. He worked for his father briefly, but for most of his life was a traveling salesman for Taylor-Symonds, a textile company. Edna was a voice and piano teacher, and taught kindergarten for a few years. She was very active in the Phillips Memorial Baptist Church of Cranston, and in the Women's Christian Temperance Union.

            Their daughter, Lucille Hewitt Spooner (1922- ), married Ferdinand Votta Jr., who became an engineering professor at the University of Rhode Island. They live in Kingston, and Edna Spooner lived with them for several years as well. A family reunion was celebrated in 1992, commemorating what would have been the 100th birthday of Leroy and Edna Spooner. The following bit of verse was composed for the occasion:

            "Needles and thread / Buttons and braid / That's how Grandpa's money was made."

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Scope and content:

            There are no personal papers in this collection from B.F. or Laura Spooner, other than income tax returns. The business records are far from complete; there is nothing from 1901 to 1916, and not a great deal of depth outside of 1936 and 1937. The most interesting records may be the personnel files; they often contain letters of inquiry, interview notes and reasons for termination. Several clerks were accused of embezzlement.


            The L.A. and Edna Spooner folders are mostly their personal financial information, with almost nothing on their careers. There is a folder of miscellaneous material pertaining to their charitable and church work.

            There are also several items from other members of the family. Minnie (Miner) Maine (1859-1953), the mother of Edna Spooner, is represented. Nellie S. Lawton (1871-1891) and Edna W. Lawton (1869-1952), first cousins of Laura Spooner who did not leave heirs, are also included.

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            The business records were maintained at B.F. Spooner's house at 13 Blackamore Ave. in Cranston until his widow's death in 1951. They were then moved to L.A. Spooner's home at 15 Hawthorne Avenue, and finally to a barn at the Votta residence in Kingston.

            It seems clear that B.F. Spooner made a policy of discarding the bulk of each year's records after taxes were completed; upon his death, a very large volume of records from 1936 and 1937 were saved.

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Processing note:

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Box 1:

B.F. Spooner, Inc. - Correspondence, etc., 1918-1930

                                        - Correspondence, etc., 1933-1936

                                        - Stationery, n.d.

                                        - Personnel - Correspondence, 1918-1936 (2 fol.)

                                        - Personnel - Notebook, 1930-1937

                                        - Taxes - Returns, 1917-1925

                                        - Taxes - Returns, 1926-1936

                                        - Taxes - Miscellaneous documents, 1918-1934

                                        - Aldrich Block rent and correspondence, 1919-20

                                        - Invoices, 1936

                                        - Bank Statements, 1936-1937

                                        - Bank Checks, 1936

                                        - Bank Checks, 1937

                                        Account Books (vol. 1 and 2), 1900

Box 2:

B.F. Spooner, Inc. Account Book (vol. 3), 1918-1937

L.A. and Edna Spooner - Charitable, social and church - 1933-1953

                                                  - Receipts, 1922-1953

                                                  - Financial - Deposit books, 1919-1929

                                                                            - Checks and statements, 1916-21

                                                                            - Checks and statements, 1922-26

                                                                            - Statements, 1926-1934

                                                                            - Checks, 1926-1934

Lucille Spooner Votta - Genealogical and historical - ca. 1981-94

Minnie D. Maine - Financial - 1911-1932

Nellie and Edna Lawton - Autograph book and poems, 1880 - ca. 1920

Miscellaneous news clippings, probably from Edna Spooner, 1918-30

Children's games, ca. 1930, probably by B.F. Spooner for use with his grandchildren.

Not boxed:

Volume 4: Scrapbook, 1925-1940. Kept by unknown member of the family, it contains newspaper clippings and programs relating to many Spooner relatives and acquaintances.

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Autograph Book, 1880

Business Records - R.I. - Providence - Novelties

Cranston, R.I. - Social and Religious Life - 1933-1953

Employment Practices - R.I. - Providence - 1918-1937

Games - Rhode Island - Cranston

Lawton, Edna W., 1869-1952

Lawton, Nellie S., 1871-1891

Maine, Minnie (Miner), 1859-1953

Maine Family

Providence, R.I. - Business - Novelties

Religion - R.I. - Cranston - 1933-1953

Spooner, Leroy Arnold, 1892-1970

Spooner, Edna L. (Maine), 1891-1981

Votta, Lucile Hewitt (Spooner), 1922-

Women's Christian Temperance Union

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