Expanded Database Boston, MA: Provident Institution for Savings, 1817-1882

Drawing of old Court House
Stone Court-House, also called Johnson Hall; Court-Square, Boston MA, where the Provident first kept offices in 1817. Public Domain, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Today we are announcing an update to a database that comes through a partnership with the Boston Athenaeum; Boston, MA: Provident Institution for Savings, 1817-1882. We have added one new Waste Book volume which adds nearly 260 pages and 2,500 searchable names.
When complete, the database will contain 6 signature books and 6 “Waste” (Transaction) books. The volumes currently available are:

• Signature Book 10, 17 May 1854 – 9 Jun 1858
• Waste Book 1D, 1 Mar 1821 – 5 Jun 1822

For more an excellent presentation on how to take advantage of bank records, register for a webinar today, October 15th, by Eileen Pironti on Using Bank Records in Family History Research. A recording of the webinar will be available later on American Ancestors if you cannot join.

picture of page describing webinar
Webinar on using bank records in family history.

The Provident Institution for Savings in the Town of Boston was the first savings bank to be incorporated in the United States. In 1817 the bank was founded by James Savage, and other prominent Bostonians including William Elery Channing, Josiah Quincy, Elisha Ticknor, Thomas Dawes, Samuel Elliot, and Thomas Handasyd Perkins among others.
The institution was predicated on the idea that savings banks would encourage thrift and self-improvement of the poor of Boston without subjecting them to the so-called moral corruption associated with outright charity. By offering their customers dividends on savings, the Provident would encourage them to keep their money in the bank for longer periods of time, rather than spend as they earned it.

Over the course of the 19th century, the Provident expanded, investing in industries such as textiles, as well as real estate. The Provident became a subsidiary of Hartford National Corporation in 1986 and continued to operate as the Provident Institution until it was merged with Shawmut Bank in 1992, which subsequently donated the Provident’s records to the Boston Athenaeum.

About 80% of the records are for immigrants to Boston. This is particularly valuable for Irish immigrants as the native county is provided which is critical information for additional research in Ireland. All records will be of type residence and will be for the location of Boston, Massachusetts.
This database is the result of partnership with the Boston Athenaeum. The Boston Athenaeum has the original books for Provident and performed the digitization of all the images. The full collection at the Boston Athenaeum is Provident Institution for Savings in the Town of Boston Records. They have partnered with NEHGS to index these books and make them available online.

This update is made possible by the efforts of our interns; Amanda Opalenik, Kate Pozgay, Kennedy Smith, and Annie Tucker. If you would like to become part of the team working on this or other rewarding genealogical projects, please contact Rachel Adams, Database Services Volunteer Coordinator via email at rachel.adams@nehgs.org.

Please note: This database is available to Individual-level and above NEHGS members only. Consider membership.