The Archives Collection comprises institutional records about the founding of the Providence Athenæum, members, collections, library rules and regulations, local booksellers, and the reading habits of our members since 1753.
The Charging Books (or circulation records) documenting the titles that our members and guests were reading in the nineteenth century facilitate the study of reading habits at the Providence Athenæum, and in most cases, these volumes are still on the shelves. Receipts and letters as well as other manuscripts in the Archives document how the Athenæum acquired books, and additional records document the names of members who were on the library’s various committees. The committees charged with the daily operations of the library included the Board of Directors, finance, buildings and grounds, membership, and the library committee who selected books for the institution. Many of the manuscripts contained in this collection provide valuable historical information about the cultural, intellectual, and civic leaders of Providence in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. There are also extensive collections of photographs and ephemera relating to the library.