Annual Valentine Contest
Children making valentines, February 9, 1949. Photograph from the George Cocaine Collection at Worcester Historical Museum.

CELEBRATE WORCESTER!

Enter the 39th Annual “Be Our Valentine” Contest

Create an original valentine in 2017 and be part of Worcester’s valentine-making tradition

Open to students in grades 3, 4, 5 and 6 or the equivalent who (a) attend Worcester schools, (b) are the children of members of Worcester Historical Museum, or (c) are holders of an active Worcester Public Library card.

2017 Winners

View 2017 “Be Ours” Contest Winners

To Enter

Bring one entry per child to Worcester Historical Museum, 30 Elm Street, by 4 p.m. on Monday, January 30, 2017.

 

» View or Download the 2017 contest flyer.

View or Download a Powerpoint history of the Worcester valentine industry, along with more information about “Be Our Valentine” for personal or classroom use. (PDF version)

Valentine-Making Workshops

For Kids of All Ages

Learn historic Worcester valentine styles & techniques.

Make your entry into the contest or cards for family & friends at one of these seven free Worcester Public Library workshops.

Worcester Historical Museum provides all materials for valentine-making, as well as a powerpoint presentation on the history of valentines in Worcester.

Tuesday, 1/17 Great Brook Valley Branch, 3:30-4:30 pm
Thursday, 1/19 Main Library, Salem Square, 3:30-4:30 pm
Monday, 1/23 Francis Perkins Branch, 3:30-4:30 pm
Monday, 1/30 Goddard School Library, 3:30-4:30 pm
Tuesday, 1/31 Burncoat School Library, 4-5 pm
Thursday, 2/2 Tatnuck School Library, 3:30-4:30 pm
Friday, 2/3 Roosevelt School Library, 3:30-4:30 pm

Be Our ValentineThe History

For nearly 100 years, Worcester was the center of the commercial valentine industry in the United States. In 1847, according to local folklore, Worcester resident Esther Howland received an English valentine, which inspired her to design her own. She sold her cards through her father’s stationery store. Business flourished, and Esther recruited friends to assemble cards in a third-floor room at the family residence, 16 Summer Street. While it is generally agreed that Esther Howland was the first to make valentines in Worcester, Jotham Taft of nearby Grafton was also making valentines. He and his wife built a successful valentine industry from their home in the early 1840s. Jotham’s son Edward formed a partnership with Esther Howland in 1879, called the New England Valentine Company.

Worcester Loves to Read ColorIn 1863, George C. Whitney joined his brother Edward in the family stationery store begun by their late brother Sumner, at 218 Main Street. The brothers worked together as the Whitney Valentine Company until 1869, when Edward withdrew from the partnership. In 1881, George C. Whitney bought the New England Valentine Company and incorporated it into his operation. He also bought Jotham Taft’s business. The Whitney business proved to be highly successful. After George died in 1915, his son Warren took over management. The George C. Whitney Company continued to prosper until 1942, when the wartime paper shortage caused the liquidation of the largest greeting card company in the world.

Visit Us

Address
30 Elm Street
Worcester, MA 01609
» Get Directions

Contact Us
e: info@worcesterhistory.net
p: (508) 753-8278

Museum Hours

Gallery Hours
Tuesday - Saturday: 10:00AM - 4:00PM
4th Thursday of the Month: 10:00AM - 8:30PM

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4th Thursday of the Month: 10:00AM - 8:30PM

Salisbury Mansion
Thursday - Saturday: 1:00PM - 4:00PM

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This website was made possible by a generous gift from The Fred Harris Daniels Foundation, Inc.

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