1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 Watson Family Papers

 Of Providence, R.I.

 Papers, 1842-1984

 Size: 2.25 lin. ft.

 Catalog number: MSS 868

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, June 1995

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Henry H. Watson Sr. (1839-1889), son of Robert S.W. Watson, was a cabinet-maker who lived in Barrington and Providence, R.I. He married Josephine S. Roffe (1841-1928) of Scipio, N.Y., daughter of Christopher E. and Samantha (Honeywell) Roffe, and they had three sons: Henry Jr. of Camden, N.J., Howard (1869-1944) and Arthur E. Watson (1866-1956).

            Arthur E. Watson graduated from Brown University with the class of 1888, and went on to have a distinguished career as an electrical engineer and educator. He was employed by the pioneering Thomson-Houston Company of Lynn, Massachusetts, which later became General Electric. He later became a professor at Brown University. He had numerous other interests, including genealogy, travel, Brown alumni fund-raising, and an active involvement in the affairs of the First Baptist Church of Providence. He married Cora B. Stewart (1866-1936) in 1890. They had three sons: Alan (1900-1929), Lester (1896-1898) and Norman S. Watson (1895-1984). The family lived in a house at 30 Congdon St., located at a dangerous location on Providence's College Hill; cars would crash through their gates every several years.

            Norman S. Watson served in the First World War, and married Selma Sandbeck (1898- ?), a Swedish-American woman from East Providence. They had no children. Norman was a printer and photographer by trade. During the Second World War he served as an estimator for the U.S. Government Printing Office in Washington D.C., while Selma remained in Providence. After 1946 he returned to Providence. He and Selma remained at the family home at Congdon St. through their retirement.

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Scope and content:

            The bulk of this collection consists of the personal papers of Arthur, Cora, Norman and Selma Watson, especially personal correspondence. There is one folder on Arthur Watson's private sector engineering work, as well as lecture notes and addresses from his professorial career. There are also his diaries from 1952 and 1954 through 1956. A trip to Europe by Arthur and Cora Watson is documented in depth by her travel diary, as well as extensive correspondence.

            There are many letters between Norman and Selma Watson between 1942 and 1946 while he was living in Washington. There are also several letters from prominent political figures, not particularly illuminating, in response to Norman Watson. Also of interest is a folder detailing Selma Watson's work with Providence's Home for Aged Women, including notes made while making personal visits with many of the residents.

            The collection also contains scattered papers of Henry H., Robert S.W. and Josephine (Roffe) Watson, and Samantha Roffe. Of particular interest is a letter written to Samantha Roffe in 1842 from her husband C.H. Roffe, while travelling through Providence during the dramatic events of the Dorr Rebellion; he wrote that "I shall stay in this place until the great suffrage excitement subsides, which will probably last 3 or 4 days." Another 1913 letter to Josephine Watson from her sister Augusta Perry discusses another sort of suffrage movement: "I enclose a picture of some young suffragists, aren't they awful looking samples of the terrible sufs...". The picture is unfortunately no longer extant.

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            After the death of Norman Watson, who left no heirs, the historian of the First Baptist Church, Stanley Lemons, retrieved all records relating to the church. This collection consists of family papers culled from these official church records by Dr. Lemons.

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Processing note:

            This collection has been housed in archival boxes and folders. Photographs and ephemera were transferred to the Graphics Collection.

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Parents and grandparents of Arthur Watson

Box 1, folder 1. Samantha Roffe - Letters from husband C.E. Roffe (3), 1842

                                                               from father Isaac Honeywell (5), 1874-7

Box 1, folder 2. Samantha Roffe - Letters from daughter Augusta Perry, 1903-1911

Box 1, folder 3. Samantha Roffe - Letters from daughter Augusta Perry, 1912

Box 1, folder 4. Samantha Roffe - Letters from daughter Augusta Perry, 1913

Box 1, folder 5. Samantha Roffe - Letters from daughter Augusta Perry, 1914-1916

                        (some addressed to Augusta's sister Josephine Watson)

Box 1, folder 6. Josephine Watson - Estate, 1928-1929

Box 1, folder 7. Josephine Watson - Miscellaneous, 1890-1925

Box 1, folder 8. Henry H. Watson, Sr. - Miscellaneous:

            Civil War documents, 1861-1863

            Deeds, 1849-1870

            I.O.O.F. certificate, 1879

            2 letters to brother Shearjashub, 1887-89

            Recipe, "celebrated royal egg food", 1884

Box 1, folder 9. Robert S.W. Watson - Will, 1868

Arthur and Cora Watson

Box 2, folder 1. Letters received, personal and family, 1897-1934

Box 2, folder 2. Electrical engineering correspondence, etc., 1915-1937

            Includes file on Thomson-Houston Co.

Box 2, folder 3. Letters received from Countess Elizabeth Des Forest, 1932-1956.

            In French. Some have transcriptions.

Box 2, folder 4. Letters received, family and personal, 1935-1936.

Box 2, folder 5. Letters received, 1937-1954

Box 2, folder 6. Letters received, 1955-1956

Box 2, folder 7. Letters received, undated

Box 2, folder 8. Letters from European trip, 1932, to Henry H. Watson Jr.and Charles Sandbeck.

Box 2, folder 9. Arthur Watson - Diaries, 1952, 1954

Box 2, folder 10. Arthur Watson - Diaries, 1955-1956

Box 2, folder 11. Arthur Watson - Addresses, 1922-1954

Box 2, folder 12. Arthur Watson - Lecture notes, 1903-1935

Box 2, folder 13. Arthur Watson - Brown University material, 1930 and undated

Box 2, folder 14. Arthur Watson - First Baptist Church, 1933-1953

Box 2, folder 15. Arthur Watson - Birth and marriage certificate

Box 2, folder 16. Arthur Watson - Historical notes on 30 Congdon St., 1951-1952

Box 2, folder 17. Arthur Watson - 30 Congdon St. - Car damage, 1936-1968

Box 2, folder 18. Arthur Watson - Financial accounts, 1928-1956

Box 2, folder 19. Arthur Watson - "Earliest Recollections: Life at Nayatt" (6 p.); Insurance; Humor

Box 2, folder 20. Cora Watson - Poetry, etc., undated

Box 2, folder 21. Cora Watson - Estate, 1936

Box 2, folder 22. Cora Watson - Travel journal, 3/1894, Beaufort, S.C.

Box 2, folder 23. Cora Watson - Travel journal, 3/1932, Europe

Norman and Selma Watson

Box 3, folder 1. Letters received, 1897, 1900, 1915-1924

Box 3, folder 2. Letters received, 1925-1932

Box 3, folder 3. Letters received, from Arthur and Cora Watson in Europe, 1932

Box 3, folder 4. Letters received, 1933-1941

Box 3, folder 5. Letters received, 1942

Box 3, folder 6. Letters received, 1942

Box 3, folder 7. Letters received, 1943

Box 3, folder 8. Letters received, 1944

Box 3, folder 9. Letters received, 1944

Box 3, folder 10. Letters received, 1944

Box 3, folder 11. Letters received, 1945

Box 3, folder 12. Letters received, 1945

Box 3, folder 13. Letters received, undated, ca. 1945

Box 3, folder 14. Letters received, 1946-1949

Box 3, folder 15. Letters received, 1950-1956

Box 3, folder 16. Letters received, 1957-1960

Box 3, folder 17. Letters received, 1961-1969

Box 3, folder 18. Letters received, 1970-1984

Box 3, folder 19. Letters received, undated

Box 3, folder 20. Financial:

            Account book, 1919-1924

            Defense bonds, 1942-1945

            Cadillac accounts, 1934

Norman Watson

Box 3, folder 21. Political correspondence, 1972-1982

Box 3, folder 22. Letter drafts, undated, ca. 1980

Box 3, folder 23. Miscellaneous, including:

            Christmas card list, 1974

            Diet, 1930

            Birth certificate

            World War I military service records

            Report card, 1906

Box 3, folder 24. Ephemera - Self-printed Christmas cards, calling cards, etc.

Box 3, folder 25. Employment applications, resumes, etc., ca. 1950

Selma Watson

Box 3, folder 26. Home for Aged Women work, 1944-1960

Box 3, folder 27. Autograph book, 1917-1927; address book, 1940

Box 3, folder 28. Poetry, etc, undated

Box 3, folder 29. School papers and records, 1910-1922

Box 3, folder 30. "A Short History of the Swedish Mission Church, Rumford"

Alan Watson

Box 3, folder 31. Letters received, 1917-1924

    Graduation program

Kristina Sandbeck

Box 3, folder 32. Book in Swedish, n.d.


Box 3, folder 33. Poem composed by Mrs. Mather, 1895

    "Class Poem, V.A. 1885"

    "Little Shepard of Kingdom Come" by John Fox Jr.

    Letter to Anna Quintin, 1936

    Letter, M. Honeywell to Augusta Perry, 1904

    Poem by Sarah H. Greene to Augusta Perry, 1916

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Barrington, R.I. - Social Life and Customs

Brown, John Nicholas

Brown University

Bush, George H.W.

Cady, John H.

Chaffee, John H.

Coolidge, Arlan

Diaries - 1952-1956

Dorr Rebellion

Electric Engineering

First Baptist Church, Providence, R.I.

France - History - 1945-1955

Green, Theodore F.

Home for Aged Women, Providence, R.I.

Pell, Claiborne

Perry, Charles M.

Printing - Rhode Island - Providence

Providence, R.I. - Social Life and Customs

Roffe, Samantha E. (Honeywell) (1822-1916)

Swedish Mission Church, Rumford, R.I.

Thomson-Houston Company

Travel - Europe

Watson, Arthur E. (1866-1956)

Watson, Cora (Stewart) (1866-1936)

Watson, Henry Holden Sr. (1839-1889)

Watson, Josephine S. (Roffe) (1841-1928)

Watson, Norman S. (1895-1984)

Watson, Selma (Sandbeck) (ca.1898-after 1982)

Women - Suffrage

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