Holyoke Public Library
250 Chestnut Street - Holyoke, MA 01040

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Located in the Reading Room:

Holyoke City Directories
1869, 1873-76, 1882-1991
Holyoke Street Lists (print) 1986-2011 
Most Holyoke City Directories are available digitally to Holyoke Public Library cardholders from this page: http://holyokelibrary.org/Pages/Index/226887/genealogy-resources

Town Reports/Municipal Registers
The municipal registers are packed with information in the form of detailed annual reports from all town department heads:
Town of Holyoke 1850 to 1873
City of Holyoke 1874 to 1968
Select Municipal Registers are available digitally at the History Room's Google Books Library Page

Newspapers (on Microfilm)
Holyoke Transcript 1882-Jan. 1926
Holyoke Telegram 1912 to 1922
Transcript-Telegram 1926 to 1993
Springfield Union News and Springfield Republican 1993-Ongoing
La Justice (French) 1909 to 1944 
Hello Holyoke
The Holyoke Sun (incomplete collection)

Map Collection
Highlights include:
Farms bought by Hadley Falls Co. 1846-1849
Richard’s Atlas of Holyoke 1911
Sanborn Map of Holyoke 1895 
Three of our atlases are available digitally here

Holyoke High School Yearbooks
1915 to the present. Some pre-1915 materials available.

Local and Regional History
Books and materials that relate principally to Holyoke history, including local biographies, industry histories, geological and environmental overviews, pictorial works, as well as books about surrounding western Massachusetts towns.

Biographical and Subject Files
Comprised largely of newsclippings and short publications on Holyoke events, community organizations, government, churches, businesses, neighborhoods and more, these files can be a useful starting point for research.  A separate alphabetical file contains materials on individuals and families.

Photograph and Image Collection
Photographic images and illustrations depicting Holyoke landmarks, buildings, streets, industries, organizations and a wide variety of other subjects. Our staff can assist you in locating specific photographs in the collection.

Holyoke Postcard Collection
Over 500 postcards from Holyoke’s past.

Ella Merkel DiCarlo Collection
This collection includes 8500 note cards on Holyoke historical topics.

Just a few of our Archival Collections (if the collection title shows as a link, click to access the PDF Finding Aid for that collection): 

Holyoke Street Railway Collection
The collection includes photographs, track layout maps, ephemera, and moving images.

Holyoke Range Collection
Includes material on Mount Tom, Mount Holyoke, Mount Nonotuck, the summit houses,  the Mount Tom Railway Company, the Mount Tom Ski Area, and the Mount Tom Golf Club.  Also ask to see material from our photograph collections. For information on Mountain Park, see our Local File by that name.

Holyoke Gas & Electric Department
The Holyoke Gas & Electric Department formed when the Holyoke Water Power Company sold its gas and electric works to the city in 1902. HG&E continues to provide energy to Holyoke after more than century. This collection includes dam licensure records, historical perspectives, environmental reports, and industry reference publications.

Holyoke Water Power Company Collection
The Holyoke Water Power Company successfully operated and maintained the dam, canal system, and hydroelectric facilities along the Connecticut River in Holyoke, Massachusetts for 108 years beginning in 1859. The HWP Collection consists of hydrological reports and studies; financial, property, and court records; publications and personal papers; and publicity materials including photographs and special edition newspapers.

Junior League of Holyoke, Inc., Head Start Program Collection
Holyoke’s Head Start Program was founded in 1965 by the Junior League of Holyoke, a young women’s organization of community volunteers. The Head Start Program was a preschool program for three- and four-year-olds from low-income families. The Junior League of Holyoke researched the need for such a program before embarking on this project, and then successfully applied for federal funding to sustain it. The Head Start Program still exists in Holyoke today, although the Junior League of Holyoke disbanded in 1997, due to the fact that fewer women had time to volunteer. The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc., however, continues to be a viable organization.

Holyoke Visiting Nurses Association Collection
The Holyoke Visiting Nurse Association, Inc. was established in 1905 when R.S. Vining was appointed the first and only nurse of the Holyoke District Nurse Association (HDNA). By the year 1912, the HDNA was making more than 3500 visits to 220 different families in Holyoke. In that year two more nurses were added to the staff. In 1925 the name was changed from the Holyoke District Nurse Association and incorporated as the Holyoke Visiting Nurse Association, Inc. (HVNA). The HVNA is still active in the region and currently includes South Hadley and Granby in its coverage area. The collection consists of materials dating from 1905 to the late 1980s, and contains reports from the executive director, annual meeting minutes and booklets, statistical ledgers, account books, photographs, newspaper clippings, press releases, procedural pamphlets and income and expense reports.

National Blank Book Collection
The National Blank Book Company, originally founded in 1843 by J.G. Shaw, moved from New York City to Holyoke, Massachusetts in 1881. In 1888, Frank B. Towne became the treasurer, and Edward S. Towne, future president, became employed at the company. The locally established Towne family successfully maintained the operations for nearly a hundred years. The National Blank Book Collection consists of product catalogs, photographs, scrapbooks, and over 75 years of the company's newsletter, The National.

John Olsen Collection
John Olsen completed 49 original pen and ink drawings of Holyoke Landmarks in 1973 for Holyoke's Centennial Celebration. Upon completion of the project, Olsen donated his photographs and research, as well the original drawings, to the History Room.

Parsons Paper Collection
The Parsons Paper Company was founded in Holyoke, Massachusetts in 1853 by Joseph Clark Parsons. Colonel Aaron Bagg of West Springfield was the company’s first president and his descendants ran the firm until 1977. In 1959 Parsons Paper Company No. 2 merged with National Vulcanized Fiber Co. From 1989 to 2005 Parsons was the last remaining paper making company in Holyoke producing high quality art papers, parchment and calendar papers and watermarked bond. The company closed in 2005 when National Vulcanized Fiber filed for bankruptcy. The building at 28 Sargeant St. was destroyed by fire in June of 2008.

Second Congregational Church Collection
The Second Congregational Church began in 1849. The present church which stands on the corner of Appleton and Maple Streets opened in 1885. It includes the Skinner Memorial Chapel which opened in 1912. The building and organization is now known as the United Congregational Church. This collection consists of historical reference books and manuscripts about the church and chapel, over 70 years of pastors’ sermons, records of the Women’s Guild, newspaper articles and photographs, and pamphlets regarding services, recitals, concerts, programs, and dedications dating back to the inception of the congregation.

Valley Players Collection
The Valley Players was a summer stock theater company that occupied the stage of The Mountain Park Casino for 21 years from 1941-1942 and from 1944-1962. Although they were not the only theater group to occupy the Mountain Park Casino (which dates back to 1895), they were the longest to hold the stage. The husband and wife team of Carlton and Jean Guild began the company after the dissolution of the Farragut Players. The most notable veteran of the Valley Players was Hal Holbrook, a Television and Film actor who, as an unknown, starred in 26 plays from 1951-1953 and 1957. He debuted his well-known solo performance of Mark Twain Tonight at the Mountain Park Casino in 1957.

White & Wyckoff Collection
The White and Wyckoff Manufacturing Company (originally, Smith and White) created fine stationary products in Holyoke. The collection of materials traces the White and Wyckoff Manufacturing Company from its origins in 1889.

Holyoke Boys Club Scrapbooks c. 1927-1990s

Women's Clubs Scrapbooks c. 1902-1970

Barbara Bernard Newspaper column Scrapbooks

Using History Room Resources

General Information

History Room resources can provide an excellent starting point for research into many aspects of Holyoke history. All materials must be used onsite. Before your visit, please review these guidelines for using the collections. Following these guidelines helps us ensure long term public access to these materials.

Access to Collections

Items from the collections may not be borrowed or checked out. Please see our Duplication policies if you need copies of any items for study.

Reading Room collections are available for use during open hours. Most archival collections, however, must be retrieved from storage. Ideally, let us know at least 24 hours in advance of your visit, so that the requested items can be retreived for you.

If using microfilm, users may be  limited to 1 hour of microfilm reader use if others are waiting. All microfilm readers allow printing for a small fee. Microfilm images may also be saved as PDFs or JPGs.

A public access computer is available in the History Room for online historical and genealogical research. Patrons may access Ancestry Library Edition from the History Room or from any HPL computer. Regular Library computer time limits apply. If you are an out-of-state visitor and unable to log into our computers, let a History Reading Room staff member know.

Assistance and Guidelines

The Reading Room is always staffed during open hours so that we can provide assistance to patrons. With some exeptions, we provide original materials for research use. In other cases, we may provide photocopies for research use or digital items. In order to preserve these materials for long term use by the public, we expect visitors to observe these guidelines:

  • Complete a short registration form
  • Remove hand sanitizer from hands with the wipes provided or wash hand with soap and water. 
  • Store personal items and coats in the locker area of the Reading Room
  • Use only pencils while working with materials
  • Please do not bring food or drink into the Reading Room
  • Observe any specific handling guidelines you are given
  • Work at a table or other work surface, so that materials are well-supported while in use

Copies of the complete guidelines are available in the Reading Room.

Duplication and Duplication Fees

  • With some exceptions, patrons may use non-flash photography to copy research material for personal use. Staff will assist you in this process. If you plan to use the newspaper microfilm, you may wish to bring change (for printouts) or a usb drive (for saving scans). If you know how to access your email, you can also send scans to yourself. 
  • Due to the fragile nature of most of our materials, we do not permit self-service photocopying of manuscripts or books. Except in the case of oversize, extremely fragile items, or tightly bound items, our staff can provide copies or PDF scans of needed material. We can copy certain items on the spot, but cannot generally offer same day service on scans or large copy orders. Please also note that we do not copy entire written works. See the fee schedule below.
  • The fragile nature of most materials means that we cannot permit the use of portable scanners.
  • All copies, photographs, and scans are for personal, research use only. If you wish to display, duplicate or publish an image of an item in the collection, please ask for a copy of our duplication policy. We reserve the right not to copy material if we believe this may be in violation of U.S. copyright law.
  • Photocopy orders $0.25 per page
  • Microfilm printing $0.25 per page
  • Newspaper items (including obituaries, if we mail or email to you), suggested donation: $4.00 per page, PDF. 
  • Image scans (JPG: $5.00 per scan) (TIFF: $10.00 per scan)
  • Multi-page PDFs: please contact us for fees 
  • Images on USB drive we provide (in addtion to scanning fee): $5.00 per drive

Checks should be made out to the Holyoke Public Library.

Research Correspondence and Inquiries

Research requests should be directed to the archivist of the History Room and Archives (Holyoke Public Library, 250 Chestnut Street, Holyoke, MA 01040 OR historyroom@holyokelibrary.org). A research question or a request for single obituary takes an average of 7-14 days depending on the complexity of the request. Any relevant information that researchers provide will speed up the search process. Patrons with reference inquiries not requiring History Room resources may be referred to a Reference Librarian.

We do not charge a fee for brief inquiries for historical information.Complex research questions generally require a personal visit.