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Valentine Greetings: Shifting from Howland to Hallmark

Feb 07, 2011 by Leigh Mantle

Valentine Greetings: Shifting from Howland to Hallmark
An exhibit in the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
Ground Floor of Dwight Hall, February 7th until February 21st

Looking for Valentine’s Day inspiration?

Each year, the Mount Holyoke Archives and Special Collections displays 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 C. Whitney, the designer who bought Howland's increasingly popular company in the early 1880's.

Other valentines displayed point at 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. Another stylistic theme explored in the exhibit is a shift to valentines reflecting racial and ethnic stereotypes in the early twentieth century.

For more information about the Valentine collection, a detailed finding aid to the collection is available online.
Digitized examples of valentines from the collections are also available.

Archives and Special Collections
8 Dwight Hall
50 College Street
South Hadley, MA 01075-6425
Phone: 413-538-3079


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