Notes on collections at the RIHS
April showers, May flowers—who has patience to wait for those?! This cold and slush-filled winter week we bring you some flowers of the past from the Ruth Ely Graphics Collection to remind you of what is to come.
Ruth Ely (1881-1973) was the only surviving child of Joseph C. and Alice Ely. She lived in Providence, and was active in the Garden Club of America and the American Red Cross. Her family is documented in the James W.C. Ely Family Papers, MSS 889, which includes her Red Cross examination.
Her love of gardening was a life-long passion as evidenced by the date range of images. From the circa 1900 pictures formal pictures in the garden to one of the most recent images in the collection dated June 1963 with a personal note from a friend that reads: “Your beautiful delphinium in Foster. With happy memories and love,…”
Miss Ely’s father, Joseph Cady Ely (ca.1849-1897), was a lawyer and art collector in Providence, and married Alice Peck of Norwich, Connecticut.
Her grandfather, James Winchell Coleman Ely (1820-1906), was a prominent Providence physician. He was born in Windsor, Vermont, graduated from Brown University in 1842, and received the degree of Doctor of Medicine from Harvard in 1846. He was consulting physician at several public institutions in providence, and was active in professional associations. His wife was Susan (Backus) Ely (1824-1909) of Killingly, Connecticut.
The Graphic and Manuscript collections were a gift to the Society from the Estate of Ruth Ely in 1975.
~Phoebe Bean, Librarian