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Wistariahurst Collection of Historic Holyoke Postcards Now Online

HOLYOKE — For the last 18 months, volunteer Matt Sheehan has been scanning and uploading more than 1,000 historic postcards of Holyoke to create a public online collection and exhibit hosted by Wistariahurst Museum.

The collection had been amassed over the years and housed in the archives at Wistariahurst. The cards, ranging in date from 1876 to 1990, illustrate the changing appearance of Holyoke over the years and highlight beloved attractions such as Mt. Tom, the Summit House, and Mountain Park. The scanned images may be viewed for free online at wistariahurst.org/postcard-collection.

Volunteer Matt Sheehan did not know what he was getting involved with when, in 2014, he was directed toward three plain-looking boxes by Penni Martorell, Holyoke’s city historian. As it turned out, the boxes housed approximately 1,900 Holyoke postcards. With an eye for organization and detail, Sheehan proved up to the task, sorting, cataloguing, and scanning each postcard. Today, two of the three boxes of vintage postcards have been made accessible on the Wistariahurst website, and he expects to finish by this summer.

“Matt has been phenomenal in his attention to detail and organization in getting the project done,” said Martorell. “I know the citizens of Holyoke and general public are going to really enjoy perusing this collection online. These will certainly bring you down memory lane.”

The online postcard collection reflects the diverse history of the immigrant industrial city of Holyoke. It is divided into three series: Mountain Park and Mt. Tom, landmarks, and Holyoke views. Of particular significance are the postcards pertaining to Mountain Park, one of several trolley-car amusement parks built adjacent to American cities just before and after the start of the 20th century; it closed in 1988. Many of the postcards include handwritten notes, offering a peek at voices from the past.

“I began my service to Wistariahurst while between jobs and seeking to expand upon my professional background,” Sheehan said. “Now my volunteer role here has gone far beyond gaining experience. It has been rewarding and fulfilling to be a part of the Wistariahurst community. I am especially proud that my work has led toward making some of our materials more accessible, navigable, and presentable in a 21st-century environment.”

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