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


Enter the 42nd Annual “Be Our Valentine” Contest

Create an original valentine in 2020 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.

To Enter

Bring one entry per child to Worcester Historical Museum, 30 Elm Street, by 4 p.m. by Friday, January 31, 2020.

» View or Download the 2020 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)

See the 2019 winners!

» View 2019 “Be Ours” Contest Winners (PDF)

2018 Winners

» View 2018 “Be Ours” Contest Winners (PDF)

2017 Winners

» View 2017 “Be Ours” Contest Winners (PDF)

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.

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30 Elm Street
Worcester, MA 01609
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Contact Us
p: (508) 753-8278

Museum Hours

Gallery Hours
Tuesday-Saturday, 10AM-4PM
Every fourth Thursday until 8:30PM

Library Hours
(By appointment only) Wednesday-Saturday

Salisbury Mansion
Thursday-Saturday, 1-4PM

Closed: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Patriot’s Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day


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