1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

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 Museum of Primitive Culture Records

 Museum, Peace Dale, R.I.

 Records, 1901, 1963-1968

 Size: 0.25 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 483 sg 29

 Processed by: Steve Dalpe and Rick Stattler, February 1996

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            The Museum of Primitive Culture was created from the private collection of Rowland G. Hazard II (1855-1918) of Peace Dale, Rhode Island. The collections were initially housed at the Hazard Memorial building in Peace Dale from about 1893 onward, and included tools, beads and other implements from New England and around the world. Rowland G. Hazard II managed the collection until his death in 1918. He left a $10,000 bequest for the purpose of the creation of a proper museum facility. This was used to convert a portion of the nearby Peace Dale Offices Building into a museum space. The collections were moved into this newly renovated building in the mid-1930s. Its location on the second floor of a private office building and its iregular hours discouraged frequent use.

            Hazard's son, Thomas P. Hazard (1892-1968), held the largely honorary title of curator in addition to his very real responsibilities as the family's estate manager. There was no museum staff, and during Hazard's frequent absences on business the room was only opened to visitors at the convenience of office staff. Though the museum appeared on maps, very few tourists visited the museum. More common were groups from schools and Cub Scout packs. In 1952, Thomas P. Hazard Jr. assumed the title of curator. Through his efforts, the Museum gained Sarah Peabody Turnbaugh as a volunteer curator in 1978 and became affiliated with the University of Rhode Island soon afterward.

            With the family's sale of the office building in 1983, the Museum of Primitive Culture moved from a privately held collection to the status of a non-profit educational institution. Its name was changed to the Museum of Primitive Art and Culture in 1989, and Turnbaugh's curatorial position became a paid one. The museum is still in operation today. Annual public use has increased dramatically, and now reaches into the thousands.


Turnbaugh, Sarah Peabody; and William A. Turnbaugh. The Nineteenth-Century American Collector: A Rhode Island Perspective (Museum of Primitive Art and Culture, 1991).

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Scope and content:

            Only a scattered few papers relating to the museum were found among the papers of the family, including news clippings from 1901, and mundane correspondence from the 1960s. The museum maintains its own institutional records, including the early accession registers kept by Rowland G. Hazard II.

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            These papers were donated by the Hazard family as part of the Hazard Family Papers in 1985. They had been deposited in 1983.

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Processing note:

            This collection is part of the Hazard Family Papers, which were processed with support from the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities, the Beinecke Foundation, and the extended Hazard Family.

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Box 1, folder 1. Correspondence, 1963-1964.

Box 1, folder 2. Description of the museum, undated. 4 pages.

Box 1, folder 3. News clippings, 1901

Box 1, folder 4. Receipt for loaned spoon and pestle, 1968

Box 1, folder 5. Reports for the New England Tourist Attractions Report, with some visitor statistics, 1963.

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South Kingstown, R.I. - Buildings, structures, etc.

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