Valentine History & Events in Western MA

Valentine History & Events in Western MA

Esther Howland, a Mt. Holyoke graduate and Worcester native, began designing fancy valentine cards in 1848 and hired young women to help cut and paste together these small works of art. By 1850 she was advertising her cards in the newspaper, and by the 1860s she was selling up to $100,000 worth of valentines annually. – This cloth and lace Valentine card was made by Esther Howland, ca. 1870s.

Every year, Americans exchange an average of 142 million Valentine’s Day cards – making the holiday near the top of the list of holidays where large amounts of cards are exchanged (second only to Christmas). Valentines come in many different shapes and sizes, and can be handmade or store bought, clever and creative, or very traditional. Whatever form they come in, the valentines that we exchange each year have their roots right here in western Massachusetts!

The American valentine industry was started during the mid-19th century by Esther Howland, a Mt. Holyoke graduate and Worcester native. Often called “The Mother of the Valentine,” Howland was inspired by the beautiful, ornate valentines imported from England and suspected that there might be a market for them in the United States, as well. Through her father’s paper company, she sold her first valentines in 1848 and within a few years was able to begin her own business, the New England Valentine Company.

True to Howland’s plan, the valentines sold by the company included lots of lacy, cut paper and fanciful images of all kinds. Today, Mt. Holyoke College’s Archives and Special Collections house a variety of valentines created by Howland’s company. Seen in a video offered by the college, the valentines embody the spirit of the Victorian era with their intricate designs and elaborate decorative features. Eventually, Howland sold her company to a competitor and left the valentine industry. However, her legacy lives on in the tradition that we practice every Valentine’s Day!  Monday, February 10th through the end of the month the Archives & Special Collections will feature a student-curated exhibit case of valentines in the Library’s courtyard (next to Rao’s coffee shop inside the building). You can see examples of many valentines from the Mount Holyoke collection on their valentines Pinterest board.

Find out about events happening this weekend that celebrate the history of the valentine…

6th Annual Handmade Valentine Swap for Western MA Families

Hilltown Families 6th Annual
Community Handmade Valentine Swap

Hilltown Families 6th Annual Community Handmade Valentine Swap! Free to sign up and open to all. Deadline to sign up: Jan 31st. Join us!

It’s that time of the year again! For the past six years Hilltown Families has coordinated a community Handmade Valentine Swap — and we’re doing it again! Making handmade valentines is a great way to push against the commercialization of yet another holiday, while being creative with your family and friends. Sign up below!  It’s free and open to all families in western Massachusetts!

A handmade valentine swap gives local families an opportunity to be creative together while connecting with other families in Western Massachusetts.  Through the swap, participating families mail out handmade valentines to ten assigned addresses, and in return, they receive handmade valentines from ten other participating families.  The cards can be handmade by any combination of child and adult, so if you’re kids aren’t completely up to the task, or if an adult would like to make their own design, there’s flexibility.  All are welcomed!

Deadline to sign up (below) is Friday, January 31st. On Saturday (02/01/14), you will be emailed your assigned names/address of participants to mail your handmade valentines to.  Everyone is kindly requested to mail your valentines off by Feb. 7th.

Here are a few samples of valentines swapped in years past to stir your creative juices:

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If interested in participating, the information below must be filled out and submitted by Friday, January 31st.  If you have multiple children and would like each one to receive their own list of families to swap with, please register each person separately. Click here to sign up!

Families Gather to Make Handmade Valentines in Shelburne Falls

MYO Handmade Valentine Workshop
Brings Families Together

On Friday, January 25th, Hilltown Families and the Art Garden presented a Make Your Own Handmade Valentines Workshop, as part of a 3-part free Friday family workshop series in Shelburne Falls. Families with children of all ages gathered to make Valentines together.

Getting crafty with family, friends and neighbors in a community art space like The Art Garden, builds relationships, affords opportunities to share and connect, and allows the space for creativity that our otherwise busy lives might not offer.

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Join in the Swap!

Hilltown Families 5th Annual Handmade Community Valentine SwapThere’s still time to sign up to participate in the Hilltown Families 5th Annual Community Handmade Valentine Swap! For the past several years Hilltown Families has coordinated a community Handmade Valentine Swap — and we’re doing it again! Push back against the commercialization of Valentine’s Day while getting creative with your kids and connecting with your community… sign up to participate! Swapping happens through the mail with 10 other families! It’s free to sign up and open to all in Western MA. Deadline to sign up: Jan. 31, 2013. Western MA (FREE)

5th Annual Handmade Valentine Swap for Western MA Families

Hilltown Families 5th Annual
Community Handmade Valentine Swap

Hilltown Families 5th Annual Community Handmade Valentine Swap! Free to sign up and open to all. Deadline to sign up: Jan 31st.

It’s that time of the year again! For the past several years Hilltown Families has coordinated a community Handmade Valentine Swap — and we’re doing it again! Sign up below!  It’s free and open to all families!

A handmade Valentine swap gives local families an opportunity to be creative together while connecting with other families in Western Massachusetts.  Through the swap, participating families mail out handmade Valentines to ten assigned addresses, and in return, they receive handmade Valentines from ten other participating families.  The cards can be handmade by any combination of child and adult, so if you’re kids aren’t completely up to the task, or if an adult would like to make their own design, there’s flexibility.  All are welcomed!

Deadline to sign up (below) is Thursday, January 31st. On Friday (02/01/13)  you will be emailed your assigned names/address of participants to mail your handmade Valentines to.  Everyone is kindly requested to mail your Valentines off by Feb. 7th.

Here are a few samples of Valentines swapped in years past to stir your creative juices.  Click on the thumbnail image to see a larger image:

If interested in participating, the following information must be filled out and submitted by Thursday, January 31st.  If you have multiple children and would like each one to receive their own list of families to swap with, please register each person separately.

SIGN UP:












Be sure to click on the submit button above!  You should receive a personal confirmation within 24 hours.  If you do not receive a confirmation within 24 hours, email us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com to inquire.

4th Annual Handmade Valentine Swap for Western MA Families

Hilltown Families 4th Annual
Handmade Valentine Swap

Handmade Valentine Card Swap

Hilltown Families 4th Annual Handmade Valentine Swap. Deadline to sign up: January 30th. Open to all Western MA families.

It’s that time of the year again! For the past several years Hilltown Families has coordinated a community Handmade Valentine Swap — and we’re doing it again! Sign up below!  It’s free and open to all families!

A handmade Valentine swap gives local families an opportunity to be creative together while connecting with other families in Western Massachusetts.  Through the swap, participating families mail out handmade Valentines to ten assigned addresses, and in return, they receive cards from ten other participating families.  The cards can be handmade by any combination of child and adult, so if you’re kids aren’t completely up to the task, or if an adult would like to make their own design, there’s flexibility.

Deadline to sign up (below) is Monday, January 30th. On Tuesday (01/31/12)  you will be emailed your assigned names/address of participants to mail your handmade Valentines to.  Everyone is kindly requested to mail your Valentines off by Feb. 7th.

Here are a few samples of Valentines swapped in years past to stir your creative juices.  Click on the thumbnail image to see a larger one:

If interested in participating, the following information must be filled out and submitted by Monday, January 30th.  If you have multiple children and would like each one to receive their own list of families to swap with, please make a note in the comment field.










Handmade Valentine Swap for Western MA Families

Hilltown Families 3rd Annual
Handmade Valentine Swap

Handmade Valentine Card Swap

Hilltown Families 3rd Annual Handmade Valentine Swap. Deadline to sign up: January 30th. Open to all Western MA families.

The past couple of years Hilltown Families has coordinated a community Handmade Valentine Swap — and we’re doing it again! Sign up below.

A handmade Valentine swap gives local families an opportunity to be creative together while connecting with other families in Western Massachusetts.  Through the swap, participating families mail out handmade Valentines to ten assigned addresses, and in return, they receive cards from ten other participating families.  The cards can be handmade by any combination of child and adult, so if you’re kids aren’t completely up to the task, or if an adult would like to make their own design, there’s flexibility.

Deadline to sign up (below) is Sunday, January 30th. On Monday (01/31/11)  you will be emailed your assigned names/address of participants to mail your handmade Valentines to.  Everyone is kindly requested to mail your Valentines off by Feb. 7th.

Here are a few Valentines swapped last year to stir your creative juices.  Click on the thumbnail image to see a larger one:

If interested in participating, the following information must be filled out and submitted by Sunday, January 30th:








Handmade Valentine Swap

Handmade Valentine Swap for Western MA Families

Handmade Valentine Card Swap

Hilltown Families Valentine Card Swap, 2009 (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Last year I organized a handmade Valentine swap with friends and members of the Hilltown Families Listserv, and we had so much fun that we’re doing it again!

A handmade Valentine swap gives local families an opportunity to be creative together while connecting with other families in Western Massachusetts.  Through the swap, participating families mail out handmade Valentine cards to ten assigned addresses, and in return, they receive cards from ten other participating families.  The cards can be handmade by any combination of child and adult, so if you’re kids aren’t completely up to the task, or if an adult would like to make their own design, there’s flexibility.

Deadline to sign up is next Saturday, January 30st by midnight with the info below. On Monday (02/01/10) I will email your assigned names/address of participants you would send your handmade cards to.  You would be kindly requested to send your Valentines off by Feb. 7th.

If interested in participating, email the following information to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com by midnight 01/30/10:

  • Name of child/family:
  • Mailing address:

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Mount Holyoke College: Early Valentines Exhibit

Will You Be Mine? An Exhibition of Early Valentines
An Exhibit, Ground Floor of Dwight Hall
at Mount Holyoke College
February 3 – February 22, 2009

Each year, the Mount Holyoke Archives and Special Collections at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA, display valentines from the collection in honor of Esther Howland, a Mount Holyoke alumna credited with having established the commercial valentine industry in the United States. Howland graduated from the Seminary in 1847 and, inspired by an ornate English valentine, began creating her own elaborate renditions of the greeting card. The exhibit contains a selection of original valentines made by her New England Valentine Co., as well as some by George TC. Whitney, the designer who bought Howland’s increasingly popular company in the early 1880′s. Other valentines were gven to the collection in the personal papers of former faculty members Mildred Allen and Ruth Lawson. They show stylistic shifts within the valentine industry as it endured paper shortages, postcard crazes and a growing nostalgia for the Victorian-style cards that characterized the golden age of valentine production in both Western Europe and the United States.

This exhibit runs from 02/03/09-02/22/09.  Dwight Hall is open Mon-Thurs from 8am-Midnight, Fri-Sun from 10am-10pm. Click here to see images of Valentines from this exhibit.

SEND A VINTAGE GREETING

Another Vintage Valentines Exhibit is at the West Virginia University Libraries which can be viewed on-line here. View a collection of over 40 valentines, including greeting cards, 3-D cards, and postcards. “While browsing click on the thumbnail images to view the larger, full resolution, images of the Vintage Valentines day cards. From the full size image you may send a greeting and message via email.

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