White Fund (Lawrence, MA)

whitefundThis collection includes the accumulated material that follows the White Fund’s interaction with the Lawrence Public Library.  The library has benefited over the years from being one of the regular venues for the lecture series as well as grants that aid the library in its work.  The library director has often been a player in the politics related to the White Fund paintings.  The correspondence resulting from this and all the other collected material about the controversy is included in this collection.  There is also a letter addressed to Ezra D. Hines, esq. from N. G. White (Nathaniel Gilman White) is dated September 21, 1875.

Judge Daniel Appleton White owned a large tract of land in the town of Methuen that would become Lawrence.  When the land was sold in 1852 the proceeds were targeted for educational purposes including an annual series of six lectures for the industrial classes.  The income from this bequest would become known as the White Fund in Judge White’s honor.  Three trustees were appointed to oversee the gift starting with Henry K. Oliver, Nathaniel G. White, and Charles S. Storrow.  The Judge suggested that a lot of land be set aside for a public library and in later years this would happen.  The White Fund lectures commenced in 1864 and have continued to the present time.  Many speakers have been invited to speak including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Oliver Wendell Holmes.  The public library was established in 1872 and the fund has proceeded to supply an annual appropriation to buy books.  In 1892 the first original building for the public library was built on some of the White land at the corner of Haverhill and Hampshire Streets.  The cost of the building was given by Mrs. Nathaniel G. White and her daughter.  Mrs. White was the wife of one of the first three trustees, Nathaniel White.  The Nathaniel Whites were no relation to the Daniel Whites.   The fund earned more monies than were needed for the lecture series.  Consequently the trustees were able to use the proceeds to aid the moral and intellectual uplift of the city.  The fund paid for the Lawrence Survey of 1911 in which the housing and sanitary conditions of the city were surveyed in the hope of civic improvement.

In 1911 Rev. William Wolcott died leaving seventeen paintings to the City of Lawrence by way of the White Fund.

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