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George W. Potter and Alfred M. Williams Memorial Manuscript Collection


This collection is arranged into 6 series.

  • Series I. Alfred M. Williams Manuscripts Alfred M. Williams's small collection of manuscripts, deposited with the Providence Public Library in 1899 by Benjamin B. Edmands, provide the starting point of the collection. The structure of the writing shows that it is mostly poetic and proves that Williams spent much time writing his own poems. There is also a written and transcribed account of a British ship captured by pirates in 1828. This is the only collection of manuscripts written by Williams. The second folder includes a photocopy of the manuscripts in the first folder.
  • Series II: Correspondence

    View a PDF of the correspondent list included in this series. There are more than sixty names which are either illegible or only a first name is given.

    Subseries A. George W. Potter Correspondence (1949-1956)

    Subseries B: Clarence E. Sherman Correspondence, Librarian, Providence Public Library (1948-1956)

    Subseries C: Stuart C. Sherman Correspondence, Librarian, Providence Public Library (1948-1967)

    Subseries D: Correspondence and related material to and from Virginia M. Adams, Special Collections Curator (1969-1981)

    Subseries E: Miscellaneous Correspondence (1949-1981)

  • Series III: George W. Potter To the Golden Door Rough Draft and Research Notes Typed rough draft of Potter's posthumously published book, To the Golden Door: the Story of the Irish and Ireland in America. These manuscripts illustrate extensive research done by Potter on Irish immigration and cultural trends from the late 17th to the mid 19th century. Although he begins with a history of Ireland in ancient times through the Protestant Reformation and English rule, most of the research focuses on immigration trends, and the Irish experience in America up until the Civil War. The book is separated into three parts, Part I has 20 chapters, Part II with only 4, and Part III with 22. Each chapter also has no more than twenty numbered parts, some only having one. The draft is numbered and arranged much differently than the book and thus makes it difficult to navigate through. Part I is the same as the published version word for word and has no cross outs or corrections. It is followed by another clean and unedited Section II-V, which is assumed to be alternative research that is difficult to locate in the published version. The part of the draft labeled Part II follows these sections with a lot of cross outs and corrections in pen and pencil. This draft gives evidence of extensive and time consuming extra research that was not printed in the published version. The draft is arranged in 16 folders of approximately one inch thick. An additional folder contains random research notes presumably for his research for To the Golden Door.
  • Series IV: Information about the Williams Memorial Collection This single folder contains lists, descriptions, rules regarding borrowing, receipts and donation information pertaining to the collection. Some descriptions give full detail of items of significant historic value. A reproduction of the Book of Kells, representing the four gospels in Latin and one of the finest examples of early Christian Art in Ireland, is one of the treasures of the collection. A number of lectures and exhibits highlighting its historic value are mentioned in several documents. There is a small number of letters highlighting the collection's subject strengths including folklore, poetry, fiction and periodicals. Other lists in the folder include material from Potter's donated estate, books and pamphlets donated by National Library of Ireland, Irish street ballads, Irish writers, and the financial history of the collection. Receipts from Hodges Figgis and Co. show it to be one of the collection's primary vendors.
  • Series V: Newspaper Clippings These three folders contain unorganized newspaper clippings assumed to have been cut out by Potter. Many of the articles were written by Potter, Irish writers, or simply dealt with Irish and Irish American related news. Some articles were of a series entitled An Irish Pilgrimage, which was later published into a collection in book form. There is also a large group of articles written by Potter about the life of Alfred M. Williams.
  • Series VI: Miscellaneous Materials Some items in the miscellaneous manuscript folder: The Constitution of the Eire Society of Boston, list of members of the Alfred M. Williams Memorial Advisory Committee, list of Irish Societies, brief descriptions of Irish painters, a description of the 1916 Easter Rebellion Proclamation of the Irish Republic, and other biographical information about notable Irish citizens. Some of the items in the miscellaneous printed material folder include an Irish Digest pictorial calendar, the Providence Public Library's Reader's Guide to Books, announcements of Irish cultural events, the Irish Manuscripts Commission Catalog of Publications and a resolution of the Providence City Council paying tribute to the late George W. Potter. The few photographs and negatives in the last folder are of Potter, several notable politicians and librarians, a photographed portrait of Williams, and one of the Easter Proclamation of 1916.