Howard Millar Chapin Papers
Librarian, Providence, R.I.
Size: 2 linear feet
Catalog number: MSS 344
Processed by: Rick Stattler, January 1997
©Rhode Island Historical Society
Howard Millar Chapin (1887-1940) served as the Librarian of the Rhode Island Historical Society from 1912 until his death in 1940. He was also a prolific author on a wide variety of subjects; his particular area of expertise was colonial American history.
Chapin was the son of physician Charles V. Chapin. He graduated from Brown University in 1908, then operated his own jewelry supply company and served as the assistant business manager of the Providence Evening News, before attaining his post as Librarian on September 14, 1912. He married Hope C. Brown, daughter of former Governor D. Russell Brown, in April of 1912.
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Scope and content:
The large majority of Chapin's research notes can be presumed to be lost. Background information on only a small portion of his voluminous published output can be found here. Probably the most important part of this collection is a reference file to soldiers in the colonial wars. In 1918, Chapin published A List of Rhode Island Soldiers and Sailors in the Old French and Indian War 1755-1762 (E199.C46). This was followed in 1920 by A List of Rhode Island Soldiers and Sailors in King George's War 1740-1748 (E198.C48). Both books remain the definitive reference works on their subjects, and were recently republished as Rhode Island In the Colonial Wars by Genealogical Publishing in 1994. Neither book cited sources, except for noting that they were "compiled from the original manuscripts in the Rhode Island Historical Society and the State Archives. A duplicate list on cards with references to the individual manuscripts is on file at the Rhode Island Historical Society." These valuable card files were miscatalogued and lost for many years, but have recently been discovered.
Other interesting Chapin papers that have survived include drafts and correspondence re his 1930 Gazetteer of the State of Rhode Island; a list of early published writings by Rhode Islanders; and a scrapbook of Chapin's published work before 1920.
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The accession book for 1941 lists a donation of "Miscellaneous Papers of H.M. Chapin in", which may account for many of these papers. However, as Chapin compiled many of these notes in an official capacity for the R.I.H.S., it is likely that some of them were cataloged immediately without any formal accessioning process. The administrative records generated by Chapin as Librarian can still be found in the official R.I.H.S. Archives.
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Box 1. Card file notes for A List of Rhode Island Soldiers and Sailors in King George's War 1740-1748, with citations.
Box 2. Card file notes for A List of Rhode Island Soldiers and Sailors in the Old French and Indian War 1755-1762, with citations. Cards for Aaron through Knowles.
Box 3. Card file notes for A List of Rhode Island Soldiers and Sailors in the Old French and Indian War 1755-1762, with citations. Cards for Lake through Young, and unfiled cards.
Box 4. "Rhode Island Flags" (manuscript volume with photographs)
Draft of Gazetteer of the State of Rhode Island, 1930. Typed with mss. notes.
Box 5. Correspondence re Gazetteer, 1928-1932 (3 folders)
"Bibliography of Howard M. Chapin" (personal scrapbook covering 1903 to 1920)
"Writings of 17th Century Rhode Islanders". Two-page bibliography of works printed before 1700.
"Enfranchisement" (notes on early freemen)
"American-Made Names" (draft of article on surnames)
"Ode to Mlle. Helene Soutzo" (poem, 1903, re woman met on steamboat Saghalien)
"Roger Williams a Baptist?" (draft of article, and 1928 letter)
"Indians" (chart of descendants of Queen Esther of the Narragansetts).
"Faked Antiques" (draft of article and correspondence, 1937-1938)
"Date of Founding of Providence" (newspaper article and draft of response, 1930)
"Shipping" (drafts and published versions of various articles)
"Rutherglen Ave. Cemetery Inscriptions" (mss., 1908)
"Records of the Court of Trials in Warwick" (corrected proof of transcription)
English and Classical School report card, 1896
Brown University report cards (2), 1906-1908
Appointment as marshal for Brown University commencement, 1908
Automobile registration materials, 1911-1915
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Cemeteries - Rhode Island - Providence
Rhode Island - Bibliography - Early
Rhode Island - Geography
Rutherglen Avenue Cemetery (Providence, R.I.)
United States - History - King George's War, 1744-1748
United States - History - French and Indian War, 1755-1763
The eight authors listed in the bibliography of 17th century Rhode Islanders are also listed individually in the card catalog:
Byfield, Nathaniel (1653-1733)
Clark, John (1609-1676)
Coddington, William (1610-1687)
Gorton, Samuel (1592-1677)
Scott, Richard (1605-1679/80)
Tillinghast, Pardon (1622-1718)
Williams, Roger (1604-1683)
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