Archives and Special Collections
92 Snell Library
360 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 373-2351

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Collection Overview

Historical Note

Scope and Content Note

Series:



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Collection Overview
Creator:Knowles, Asa Smallidge, 1909-1990.
Title:Asa S. Knowles papers
Dates:1836-1990 (bulk 1920-1983)
Call Number:M20
Location:71/1-2, FF5/D3
Volume:12 cubic ft. (14 boxes)
Scope and Content Abstract:The collection documents the awards and recognitions, professional associations, personal research interests, and writings of Asa S. Knowles during his tenure as president and chancellor of Northeastern University. In 1980 at the request of Shawmut Bank's board of directors, Asa S. Knowles agreed to write a history of Shawmut Bank for its 150th anniversary. Knowles researched all aspects of the Shawmut Bank of Boston, N.A., the Shawmut Corporation, and the Shawmut Corporation of Boston. In addition, he examined the history of banking and Boston's early history. The Shawmut Bank provided Knowles with approximately 10 cubic feet of its records, which comprise Series III. The collection includes articles on Boston's early history, biographical material on Shawmut directors, information on Shawmut's early history, material on the histories of Shawmut's affiliated banks, minutes from Executive Board meetings, Shawmut Bank of Boston, N.A. and Shawmut Corporation annual reports, and external and internal publications generated by Shawmut Bank of Boston, N.A. and Shawmut Corporation. The collection also includes photographs of Shawmut branches, directors, and events.
Historical Abstract:Asa S. Knowles (1909-1990) was President of the Associated Colleges of Upper New York (1946-1948), Vice-President of University Development at Cornell University (1948-1951), President of the University of Toledo (1951-1958), and President, later Chancellor, at Northeastern University (1959-1981). He was also on the board of directors of Shawmut Bank of Boston, N.A. from 1961 to 1989(?) and on the board of directors of Shawmut Corporation from 1965 to 1989(?). Knowles wrote a history of Shawmut Bank, entitled "Shawmut, 150 Years of Banking, 1836-1986" and published in 1986. In 1836, the Warren Bank opened on State Street in Boston. The bank was organized to provide more investment opportunities for the growing mercantile community of Boston. In 1837, the bank was renamed the Shawmut Bank. The bank was federally chartered as the Shawmut National Bank in 1865, and by 1898, nine Boston banks had merged with Shawmut to comprise the National Shawmut Bank. Shawmut acquired eleven more banks over the next 50 years. In 1975, the bank was renamed the Shawmut Bank of Boston, National Association (N.A.). The Shawmut Association, an investment trust, was created in 1928 to establish stock holdings in other banks. The association reorganized itself in 1965 as the Shawmut Association, Inc. and obtained the assets of the National Shawmut Bank and other banks in which it held stock. This change transformed Shawmut Association, Inc. into a bank holding company. The association changed its name to the Shawmut Corporation in 1975.
Arrangement:Organized into 3 series: 1) Personal Files; 2) Chancellor; and 3) Shawmut Bank Records.
Subjects and Contributors:
  • Knowles, Asa Smallidge, 1909-1990

  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass) -- Presidents
  • Shawmut Bank of Boston
  • Shawmut Corporation of Boston

  • Banks and banking

Restrictions:The collection is unrestricted.
Related Materials:

Office of the President (Knowles) records (A3)Corporation and Board of Trustees records (A12)

Processor:Finding aid prepared by Deborah Richards , December 1998