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Obadiah Moses Brown Papers


Series I. Correspondence - Chronological
Series I consists of correspondence both sent and received by Obadiah M. Brown. It has been is arranged in chronological order with approximately 20 items per folder. This Series represents a mixture of personal and business correspondence. His business correspondence is primarily copy letters sent back to Almy, Brown & Slater while he was traveling domestically purchasing cotton for the mill. There are also receipts for stocks he held in several Rhode Island turnpike corporations which include the Providence and Pawtucket Turnpike Corporation, North Providence Turnpike Corporation and the Woonasquatucket Turnpike Corporation. Obadiah M. Brown was the Treasurer of the North Providence Turnpike Corporation during 1814-1820. The Tolls Day Book is a record of the tolls collected while he was Treasurer.

The most significant correspondence in this series details Obadiah M. Brown’s involvement with the Quaker abolitionist movement in Rhode Island. Many of his letters are written to members of his Quaker brethren securing employment for free blacks. There are “manumissions of slaves” notes and letters protesting free blacks on board local vessels being sold as slaves, and school bills he sponsors for James Scott, a “boy of colour.” Also included is an interesting series of letters about a free black mariner from Bristol named Harry Monroe who was kidnapped and enslaved in Georgia and eventually freed with the help of Obadiah M. Brown.

The collection also includes letters regarding Obadiah M. Brown’s sponsorship of George Comstock, a deaf man from Providence enrolled in the Hartford Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb. The correspondence also includes letters concerning admissions into the Yearly Meeting School (Moses Brown School).

Container Description Date
Box 1, Folder 1
Box 1, Folder 2
Box 1, Folder 3
Box 1, Folder 4
Box 1, Folder 5
Box 1, Folder 6
Box 1, Folder 7
Box 1, Folder 8
Box 1, Folder 9 Fragments of letters
Box 1, Folder 10 Correspondence, n.d.
Volume 2 Tolls Day Book, North Providence Turnpike Corporation

Series II. Correspondence - Topical
Series II. contains the Subject Files of the Obadiah M. Brown collection, which were separated from the correspondence in Series I when the collection was originally processed. The series consists of eight folders of material each containing 20 items. There are six folders of correspondence and subscription lists of the Bible Society of Rhode Island for which Obadiah M. Brown was Treasurer from 1813, or earlier, until his death in 1822. The remaining two folders concern his involvement with the Society for Abolition of Slavery and the Society for the Free Instruction of the Blacks.

Container Description Date
Box 1, Folder 11 Abolition of Slavery, Society of,
Box 1, Folder 13 Bible Society of Rhode Island, n.d.
Box 1, Folder 14 Bible Society of Rhode Island
Box 1, Folder 15 Bible Society of Rhode Island
Box 1, Folder 16 Bible Society of Rhode Island
Box 1, Folder 17 Bible Society of Rhode Island
Box 1, Folder 18 Bible Society of Rhode Island
Box 1, Folder 20 Free Instruction of the Blacks, Society for the, 1790-1791

Series III. Estate and Accounting Records
Series III contains a copy of Obadiah M. Brown’s will and household inventory. Mr. Brown also served as executor for the estate of William Barker of Providence. The Cyphering Book he wrote at the age of “eleven years & a half” in 1783 is filled with mathematical tasks based on mercantile problems.

Container Description Date
Box 1, Folder 12 Barker, William, estate of, 1797 - 1800
Box 1, Folder 19 Brown, Obadiah, Will and HouseHold Inventory of Obadiah M. Brown’s Estate
Volume 1 Cyphering Book of Obadiah M. Brown