Wednesday 14 October 2020

Many Irish in Boston Provident Savings ledgers, 1817-82 has started to upload a wonderful collection of ledgers from the Boston Provident Institution of Savings. As far as I'm aware, this has not been online before (if I'm wrong, please tweet @Irish_Genealogy).

Volunteers are currently transcribing the ledgers, and have just completed work on a first single volume: Signature Book 10, 1854-55. When complete, the database will contain six signature books and six "Waste" books.

I've taken a good dip into the one indexed volume and it is seriously crammed with the name of Irish immigrants. Of the 16,254 entries in the one volume, I estimate 8,400 are Irish. Of these, 2,100 savers were born in Cork, around 500 each from Donegal and Kerry, 300 each from Roscommon, Offaly and Galway, and 200 each from Tyrone, Limerick and Tipperary. The smallest county represention is from Wicklow, with only 17 savers noted. Just under 2,000 are recorded as born in 'Ireland'.

The Provident Institution for Savings in the Town of Boston was set up in 1817, the first savings bank to be incorporated in the United States. 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 following 180 years, the Provident expanded, 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. Its records were then donated to the Boston Athenaeum, which holds and digitised the original books. The NEHGS has partnered with the Athenaeum to index them and make them available online.

The additional books are actively being indexed, and new volunteers are welcome (email for more information if you'd like to help out).

You need a current paid membership to view the records.

See a partial page sample below, listing savers from Roscommon, Cork, Galway, Kildare and Tyrone. Not in the sample are two further columns noting the current residence of the saver and the amount being deposited.

From the Boston MA, Provident Institution of Savings, 3 Oct 1855