Billy Kepner, Deputy Chief of Staff: Communications
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The Return of the City of Providence’s Founding Documents to City Hall

“[H]aving made covenant of peaceable neighborhood with the sachems and natives round about us, and having, in a sense of Gods merciful providence unto me in my distress, called the place PROVIDENCE, I desired it might be for a shelter for persons distressed for conscience.” – Roger Williams

City Council President Sabina Matos, Councilman John J. Igliozzi, Esq., Members of the Providence City Council, Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, and Providence City Archivist Caleb Horton

The return of the City’s Founding Documents including the 1648 Town Charter, the 1637 Providence Civil Compact, and the 1638 Deed to Providence.

City Hall
Third Floor Gallery
25 Dorrance Street
Providence, RI

Tonight, February 18, 2020 at 5:30 PM

PROVIDENCE, RI (February 18, 2020)… City Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15) is proud to announce that the City’s founding documents will now be on display in City Hall outside the Council Chambers beginning tonight, Tuesday, February 18, 2020. The 1648 Town Charter, the 1637 Providence Civil Compact, and the 1638 Deed to Providence will be housed in a state of the art – museum quality case - that is equipped with climate control, UV and light protection, and an alarm system. In addition, there is a multi-lingual transcription and captions at a touchscreen kiosk adjacent to the case that will provide users with an interactive experience.

“I am very happy to share this exciting news, which is several years in the making,” stated City Council President Sabina Matos. “Caleb Horton, the City Archivist, is passionate about the history of our great City. It’s because of his dedication and Councilman Igliozzi that we are able to have these important pieces of our City’s history on display for residents and visitors alike to see and interact with. Having one of the largest Spanish speaking populations in the State, we felt it paramount that we ensure that we were able to transcribe the documents in both English and Spanish to allow for more visitors access to these founding documents of the place which we call home.”

The unveiling of the documents will take place at 5:30 PM in the Third Floor Gallery of City Hall. The event will be emceed by Councilman John J. Iglozzi, Esq. and will include a short speaking program including Council President Matos, Mayor Elorza, and City Archivist Horton.

"As we continue to build a bold, bright future for our community, it is critical that we continue to honor the history that has made us," said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. "Through the assistance of 21st century technology, every Providence resident of every walk of life, age and language can be proud of the documents that began our story. I thank the City Archives for their tremendous work engaging our residents in connecting our past to our present and bringing our charter back home."

The City Archives is a department that falls under the auspices of the City Council through the City Clerk’s Department. The Archivist is responsible for the curation and care of all City documents and records.

Councilman John J. Igliozzi, Esq. said, “Two years ago Caleb came before the Committee on Finance and spoke passionately about wanting to bring the original 1638 Deed back to City Hall, and since 2009 it has been housed at the State House in their archives. When he explained why it was so important to have these founding documents on display and what was needed, I too agreed that we needed to ensure that we were telling our own story. I was reminded of a quote from President Kennedy where he stated ‘ We celebrate the past to awaken the future.’ That is why these documents are so important for our residents – we need to know our past and how we became - to know where we are going. I commend Caleb for the work that went into creating the interactive kiosk and finding the right case to protect our most treasured documents.”

The City’s Founding Documents will be on permanent display during City Hall’s normal operating hours. They can be viewed outside the City Council Chambers on the third floor.

“The Providence City Archives’ mission is to preserve, collect, and, most importantly, make available our city’s history,” said City Archivist Caleb Horton. “We are proud to show-case these documents as a teaching aid for our residents. These manuscripts, humble in form, but paramount in vision, embody the spirit of our city and are our legacy to the world.”

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