Calendar of Events
40th Annual Valentine Contest
Other - Class/Workshop
Thursday, February 1, 2018
3:30 PM-4:30 PM
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.
In 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. 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.
1. In order to be judged, each valentine MUST be clearly labeled on the reverse with (a) name, home address, and home phone number; (b) Worcester Public Library Card number (if applicable);
(c) school, school phone number and grade of valentine maker; and (d) the category in which the
entry is to be judged:
Any design in the style of valentines made in Worcester in the late 1840s to 1942.
Worcester. The City That Reads. Feature the theme or character(s) from one of your favorite
books or stories. Be sure to write the name of the book and the character on the back of your valentine.
An original verse by the valentine maker.
2. Valentines must be made of non-perishable materials.
3. Size must not exceed 11 in any direction.
4. Individual entries only. One entry per student.
5. All entries become the property of Worcester
Historical Museum. Entries cannot be returned.
Children in grades 4, 5, and 6 who have won prizes in previous museum valentine contests
may enter again, but only in the Masters Competition. Entries in this category will be
judged separately from all others. Masters Competition entries must have the additional
designation of (M).
How to Enter Bring one entry per child to Worcester Historical Museum, 30 Elm Street, by 4 p.m. on Thursday, February 1, 2018.
Prizes will be awarded to each grade level in each category, with the exception of the
Masters Competition. The Masters judges will select one winner in each of the three
categories (see rule #1).
Prizes will be presented at a valentine party(with festive cookies and punch) for winners,
their families, principals and teachers. Monday, February 12, 2018, 4 pm
Fletcher Auditorium Worcester Historical Museum, 30 Elm Street
Tuesday, February 13, 4 pm
Winners will be notified at their schools not later than Thursday, February 8.
Valentines will be on display at WORCESTER HISTORICAL MUSEUM,30 Elm Street
Sponsored by: Worcester Loves to Read, Worcester Historical Museum, and Worcester Reads, and Worcester Public Library
Suggested Audiences:Families: Elementary
Last Modified: December 30, 2017 at 4:41 PM