Every Book Guaranteed Perfect: The National Blank Book Company in Retrospect

Thursday, June 15, 2023 - 5:00 PM

Holyoke Public Library Community Room

The National Blank Book Company at the foot of Cabot Street (and later in Chicopee) was a Holyoke fixture for nearly a century and a half, producing internationally-distributed products from workforce ledgers, to diaries, to custom binders.  It ingrained itself in local factory culture in the process. As one former employee explained, "If you talked to a Holyoker and they didn't know someone who worked there or hadn't worked there themself, you knew they were new in town."

On June 15 at 5:00 PM, all are invited to join us in the Community Room for Every Book Guaranteed Perfect: The National Blank Book Company in Retrospect. The History Room’s Archival Fellow Joe Maspo, M.A., will begin with an overview of the newly-expanded National Blank Book Collection and the interviews he conducted for the project.  The highlight will be a panel discussion of former employees about life with the company. Some unique artifacts that tell the story of a factory and its city will be on display. This project is the culmination of a months-long archival processing project and was made possible with a generous donation from the Richard and Margaret Towne Charitable Fund. For more information, contact the History Room at (413) 420-8107. 

Ancestry Research Tips and Genealogy Consultations with Lisa Dougherty

May 15, 2023 4:00-6:30 PM

Computer Classroom - Third Floor

We are happy to welcome back experienced professional genealogist and workshop leader Lisa Dougherty, who has presented on Irish records, DNA research, and more on her past visits to Holyoke.

This time, Lisa will begin with an approximately 40-minute introduction to navigating Ancestry Library Edition, a powerful and rich database of family history information available for free in the Library. Topics covered include what records can be found, effective searching, dealing with variations in spelling, and how to save your findings to bring home!   

Since everyone’s research and research hurdles are unique, the presentation will be followed by open, individual consultations with Lisa. These are first-come, first-served, so if you have particular questions or need ideas for moving your research forward, just sign up when you arrive (signups begin at 3:30).  When the presentation is over, Lisa will move to individual consultations.  Each consultation will be no more than 10-15 minutes and will also take place in the computer classroom and shared with the group. 

Presentation limited to 14 participants.  CONSULTATIONS limited to 8 participants.  No pre-registration.  Sign in when you arrive on 5/15/2023 (beginning at 3:30).  Call (413) 420-8107 for more information.










A Conversation with Daniel Okrent

Nationally-known, prize-winning author and former public editor of the New York Times Daniel Okrent will visit us virtually on May 4 at 5:00 PM on the big screen in the Holyoke Public Library Community Room. The author of six books, Okrent has been described by Publishers Weekly as “one of our most interesting and eclectic writers of nonfiction over the past 25 years.”  

Participants have a chance to read and discuss Okrent's books in advance at informal drop-in sessions at the Holyoke History Room on Tuesday afternoons, 4:00-6:00. Copies of the books below are available to check out at the Main Desk of the Holyoke Public Library. Extra audio books available in Libby. Upcoming discussions are on April 25 and May 2 (just prior to Mr. Okrent's May 4 visit). Questions?  Call 413-420-8107

For those interested in local history, these works illuminate critical periods and events in American history, 1900-1930, that had an impact everywhere, including Holyoke.   


The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics, and the Law that Kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians, and other European Immigrants out of America

The chilling story of how anti-immigration activists of the early twentieth century — most of them well-born, many of them progressives — used the bogus science of eugenics to justify closing the immigration door in 1924.  This “engrossing” book describes the three-decade campaign that made xenophobia respectable, and then enshrined it in federal law for more than 40 years.  






Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition: Deemed a “narrative delight” and a “marvelous and lively social history,” Okrent’s account weaves entertaining anecdotes into a narrative full of insights as to how the Prohibition movement succeeded and failed.  A masterful storyteller, Okrent takes us into the complex networks that emerged to circumvent and profit from Prohibition.




This program is supported in part by a grant from the Holyoke Local Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency. 



Celebrating the donation of the Esther Laura Kramer Sacks and Edward Sacks Press Photograph Collection

Saturday, Apr 15, 2023, 02:00 PM

On Zoom  - Register Here

Deborah Leopold and David Sacks, and the Holyoke History Room, invite you to a celebration of the donation of The Esther Laura Kramer Sacks and Edward Sacks Press Photograph Collection. Eddie and Esther Sacks were for many years a fixture in Holyoke's political and cultural scene. Both Holyoke natives, Eddie (auctioneer, realtor, and Deputy Sheriff for nearly four decades) and Esther (insurance broker, and auctioneer) were also both active in many Jewish community organizations, as well as other organizations across the city. Over many years Esther obtained newspaper photos of the couple's public activities that appeared in the Holyoke Transcript-Telegram. The photos hung in their offices at 276 High and 56 Suffolk Streets and later in their son David’s office in the Springfield courthouse.

Deborah and David donated the collection to the Holyoke History Room of the Holyoke Public Library in 2019, in memory of Esther and Edward Sacks. The photographs are now being digitized for inclusion in the History Room's online collections. The collection, consisting of more than 90 black and white images, not only document the community leadership of Eddie and Esther Kramer Sacks, but also capture a segment of Holyoke's political and social elite during the 1950s-1970s. The public is invited to share memories of the Sacks and their time in Holyoke at this Zoom event.


Spring Tree Tour

Spring Tree Tour at Library Park

Holyoke Public Library
Saturday April 15, 2023  - 10:30 A.M. 

Come celebrate spring outside at the Holyoke Public Library.  Holyoke resident and professional forester Tom Kass will lead a tour of the library’s grounds and introduce the many species of trees in Library Park.  The flowering cherries will be in full display and are a must see. While other trees will be showing characteristics only observed this time of year, Tom will describe their features and what to watch for over the seasons. The walking tour around the library building will take approximately one hour. 
Free and open to the public. No pre-registration needed. 
This program will be in English.  
For more information: (413) 420-8107

Paseo primaveral por el Parque de la Biblioteca

Biblioteca Pública de Holyoke
Sábado, 15 DE ABRIL DE 2023 - 10:30 AM

Ven a celebrar la primavera al aire libre en la Biblioteca Pública de Holyoke.  Tom Kass, residente en Holyoke y guarda bósques profesional, guiará un recorrido por los terrenos de la biblioteca y presentará las numerosas especies de árboles del Parque de la Biblioteca.  Los cerezos en flor estarán en plena exhibición y algo que deberías ver. Mientras que otros árboles mostrarán características que sólo se observan en esta época del año, Tom describirá sus características y lo que hay que tener en cuenta a lo largo de las estaciones. El recorrido a pie por el edificio de la biblioteca durará aproximadamente una hora. 

Gratuito y abierto al público.  No es necesaria inscripción previa. 

Este programa se impartirá en Inglés.  Para más información: (413) 420-8107.


Saturday, February 11, 2023
11:00 AM 

Holyoke Public Library Community Room

EDWARD HITCHCOCK was one of 19th-century America's most eminent scientists. He was the first American scientist to publicly embrace the theory of continental glaciation, but he is better known for his landmark research on what he called the "fossil footmarks" of the Connecticut Valley. Despite Edward Hitchcock's achievements in geology and paleontology, no biography had been written of him until 2021, when All the Light here Comes from Above: The Life and Legacy of Edward Hitchcock was published by retired HCC biology professor Bob McMaster.  In his presentation, Bob will review the life of Edward Hitchcock, his legacy as a scientist, and his role in the early development of Mount Holyoke College, Amherst College, and the University of Massachusetts.  Free and open to the public. 

ROBERT T. MCMASTER has advanced degrees from Boston College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts. He taught biology at Holyoke Community College from 1994 to 2014. Besides his biography of Edward Hitchcock, he has authored the Trolley Days Series, four novels set in Holyoke in the World War I era, and Rose of Glenkerry: A County Wicklow Mystery, a contemporary novel set in Ireland. 

A House in Holyoke through Time

Monday, November 7, 2022
5:00 PM

Architects give houses their shape, but people give them life.  Join us as Robert Comeau tells the story of 181 Linden Street through the biographies of the families who lived there in the past.  In the nineteenth century, 181 Linden (then 215 Linden) was one of Holyoke’s most magnificent Queen Anne homes and it is still beautiful today.  William Syms (Syms & Dudley Paper), William Fairfield Whiting, and Joseph M. Towne (National Blank Book) were among its prominent residents. 

Holyoke Public Library Community Room - Ground Floor
250 Chestnut St., Holyoke

This in-person event is free and open to the public. No pre-registration necessary. 

The Parish and the Hill Reading and Discussion Group

Join us this fall as we read and discuss The Parish and the Hill, Mary Doyle Curran’s semi-autobiographical novel that follows the story of three generations of Irish Americans in Holyoke.  This book discussion is one of a series of events commemorating the life and work of Doyle Curran organized by Holyoke Community College and sponsored by the Council for Human Understanding.  

The Parish and the Hill became an instant classic when it was published in 1948.  It describes a multi-generational Irish-American family as it grapples with the pull of the past and the desire to embrace the future.  “Brilliant and painful on themes of alienation, social class, alcoholism, and family… it explains how cultural identity is formed and passed on…. Its themes are no less relevant today” (from the Forward by Caledonia Kearns). The discussion will be held in person and led by Professor Pat Kennedy (English, Holyoke Community College).

How to participate: 

Starting September 20: Register and arrange to pick up a free copy of the book at the Holyoke History Room by calling (413) 420-8107. 

Thursday, November 3, 4:30 PM: Discussion in the Community Room (limited to 20 pre-registrants)

Mary Doyle Curran, born in 1917 in Holyoke, was part of the Irish American community that built the canals and worked in the textile and paper mills of “Paper City.” She went on to earn degrees from the University of Massachusetts and the University of Iowa.  She taught English at Wellesley and English and Irish Studies at Queens College and UMass/Boston and authored several poetry collections.  The Parish and the Hill was her only published novel.  

Puerto Rican diaspora lecture series


A Lecture series sponsored by the Holyoke History Room
In person and on Zoom 

October 1-29, 2022

Saturday, October 1, 1:00 PM: Puerto Rican Student Success.  What are the ingredients of student success in Puerto Rican-majority school systems?  Dr. Lorna Rivera will present the findings of Gastón Institute research on the impact of engagement with the cultural wealth of Puerto Rican students by educators, community leaders, and families on educational outcomes. This event will take place in-person at the Holyoke Public Library Community Room, but you may also attend on Zoom 

Thursday, October 20, 6:30 PM:  Housing and Puerto Ricans in New York, 1945-1970. Professor Vanessa Rosa will speak on her current research, which explores the settlement of Puerto Ricans in public housing in New York City between 1945-1970. Drawing from demographic data, housing statistics from the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), and city documents, the lecture will highlight the history of Puerto Ricans in public housing in the mid-twentieth century in relation to Operation Bootstrap and colonialism on the island.  This event will take place in person at the Holyoke Public Library Community Room, but you may also attend on Zoom

Saturday, October 29, 1:00 PM: What is the citizenship status of Puerto Ricans? Can Congress strip the citizenship of Puerto Ricans away if Puerto Rico changes its status? Professor Charles Venator Santiago examines the history of the extension of citizenship to Puerto Ricans and its relationship to the current status debates. This event will take place in person at the Holyoke Public Library Community Room, but you may also attend on Zoom

Made possible by a grant from MassHumanities, with funding from the Mass Cultural Council. 


- About the Speakers -

Lorna Rivera is the Director of Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development & Public Policy and Associate Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies & Latino Studies at University of Massachusetts-Boston. 



Vanessa Rosa is Assistant Professor of Latina/o/x Studies, Department of Spanish, Latina/o and Latin American Studies at Mount Holyoke College. Rosa is currently completing a book manuscript titled Precarious Constructions: Race, Class, and Urban Revitalization (UNC Press).






Charles Venator Santiago is Associate Professor, Political Science and El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies, at the University of Connecticut at Storrs.  He is the author of Hostages of empire : a short history of the extension of U.S. citizenship to Puerto Rico, 1898-present, among many other publications.




The Olmsteds in Holyoke

The Olmsteds in Holyoke
September 15, 2022  6:00 PM
Holyoke Public Library Community Room

It is known that the Olmsted Brothers produced plans for the design of Holyoke's Prospect (now Pulaski) Park and other public spaces, but few know that the firm worked on more than twenty Holyoke projects.  In this talk, Bob Comeau, leader of the Holyoke Canal Tours, will provide an overview of twenty-two parks and residential landscapes that appear in the records of John C. Olmsted and his brother Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.  While not all were realized, the plans reflect the enthusiasm with which Holyoke and its wealthier residents embraced the City Beautiful movement of the early twentieth century.

This is an in-person event.

Sponsored by the Holyoke History Room.  Free and open to the public. For more information: (413) 420-8107.

Ciudad de Historias / City of Stories

Read all about our newest Holyoke History project HERE.

Two Little-known Sources for Tracing Irish Immigrants

Monday, March 28, 2022 
4:00 PM

Hybrid Event - in the Community Room and on Zoom 

Do you have Irish ancestors who settled in New York City or Boston? If so, two sources you may not be aware of could help you discover their place of origin. As you may know, identifying your Irish ancestor's place of origin is key to using Irish records to dig deeper into your family's past. The records of the Emigrant Savings Bank and the Massachusetts Catholic Order of Foresters contain rich details about their depositors and members, and may even help you break down a brick wall! Join Lisa Dougherty, genealogist in residence for the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany, to explore these under-utilized valuable tools for your Irish family history.  An open Q&A will follow the session, in which Lisa will field questions on these sources, on using Irish records, and on genealogical research more generally.  

Lisa joins us online for this hybrid event. REGISTER HERE for the Zoom event, allowing 24 hours for your registration to be approved.
To attend in person, please call the Holyoke History Room: (413) 420-8107. In-person attendance in the Community Room is limited to 15.  

See and download the handout for the presentation HERE


Finding Sisters

A talk with author Rebecca Daniels

Finding Sisters:How One Adoptee Used DNA Testing and Determination to Uncover Family Secrets and Find Her Birth Family 

Thursday, March 3, 2022   - 6:00 PM

With almost no information on her genetic heritage, adoptee Rebecca Daniels went in search of her birth parents, using DNA testing, genealogical research, thoughtful letter writing, and a willingness to make awkward phone calls to strangers.  But along the way, she found much more: two half-sisters, a slew of cousins on both sides…a family waiting to be discovered.  Rebecca will join us online to share her complex genealogical and personal journey to finding sisters.

Praise for Finding Sisters: “an excellent example of what it takes to solve a family mystery. Like many of us, the author wasn’t even sure she wanted to attempt this search. Then—in making contact with newfound relatives—she experienced both acceptance and rejection. By sharing her thoughts and insights throughout this journey, Rebecca makes the story refreshingly honest and personal. Like no other DNA success story, Finding Sisters uses footnotes and family tree diagrams to show exactly how the search unfolds. This makes the book a clever hybrid of a memoir and a case study.”- Richard Hill, author of Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA.

Rebecca Daniels is a retired professor of theater and the author of Keeping the Lights on for Ike, based on her father’s letters home during WWII.  She is currently working on a memoir about her later-life second marriage and sudden widowhood. 



Miracle on Beech Street: A History of the Holyoke Millers, 1977-1982

Thursday, December 2, 2021 

6:00 PM on Zoom

From 1977 until 1982, McKenzie Field was home to professional baseball and the AA-level Holyoke Millers.  Numerous future major-leaguers spent their summers in the Paper City. Join Simmons University Professor Eric Poulin as he discusses the history of the team and reads from his article, “Miracle on Beech Street: A History of the Holyoke Millers, 1977-1982,” recently published in the Baseball Research Journal.  

Eric Poulin is Assistant Professor of Library and Information Science at Simmons University, where he directs their South Hadley-based West campus. He is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and is a former Steele Intern at the A. Bartlett Giamatti Center for Research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

View the recording of this event on our YouTube Channel.


You have your DNA results. Now what? Using DNA testing for Family History Research

Wednesday, November 17, 4:00-5:30 PM EDT

Join us online as Lisa Dougherty outlines how to maximize the research value of your DNA test results. This Ask-the-Genealogist format begins with a brief overview of the topic, followed by Lisa’s answers to audience-submitted questions. The session is aimed at those who have completed DNA tests or are about to do so.

With more than 25 years in the field of genealogical research, Lisa Dougherty is an experienced presenter and genealogy consultant. Her very popular past appearances with the History Room have focused on Irish sources. She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and is the Genealogist-in-Residence at the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany, New York.

After registering, please send your question to historyroom[at]holyokelibrary.org 
Sponsored by the Holyoke History Room. Free and open to the public.

Using Maps and Land Records for Genealogical Research

Using Land Records in Genealogical Research
A virtual talk by Sara Campbell
Wednesday, June 9, 4:00-5:00 PM ET

Land records take us a step beyond the basic sources for genealogical research: vital records and census records. Deeds can help us understand our ancestors' movements when buying and selling land, identify neighbors, and sometimes uncover an elusive spouse. Digging into these records should not be any more intimidating than any other source. This talk introduces the specialized terminology one encounters in deed documents and how to understand it.  Sara Campbell will review a variety of deeds and explore what can be found on line as well as in person in repositories. 

About the speaker:  Sara Campbell is a professional engineer with a passion for genealogy research that began when she dove into her own family history in 1990.  An experienced lecturer, educator, author, and editor, she speaks to library groups and societies around the region.  Her two talks for the Holyoke History Room  draw on Sara’s knowledge of local land records. 

Both of these programs are made possible through CARES Act funding to the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.


Researching Historic Maps
A virtual talk by Sara Campbell
Wednesday, May 19, 4:00-5:00 PM ET

For the family researcher, learning about the places our ancestors lived helps put their lives in perspective. This talk helps us understand the history of map-making, categories of maps that can be used, and where to look for maps relevant to one’s research. Correlating maps with other records of the time period helps us find details that might not have been uncovered otherwise.  Select local and regional maps will be used to illustrate the information historic maps can and cannot provide.

Both of these programs are made possible through CARES Act funding to the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.



Contribute to a Microhistory of the Year 2020 in Holyoke/Una microhistoria sobre este año 2020 en Holyoke


The History of County Kerry - Three-part course with Sean Murphy

The History of County Kerry, Ireland
3-Part Online Course with Sean Murphy
Tuesdays, April 20 & 27, and May 4, 2021, 5:00 – 6:30 PM


The earliest evidence of people in Kerry (Contae Chiarraí/Ciar's Kingdom) dates to 6500 years ago when hunter/gatherers had a temporary camp at Ferriter’s Cove on the Dingle Peninsula.  Over the course of three weeks, Sean Murphy, Irish historian and musician, will take us through the history of Ireland’s western-most county from the appearance of the Gaels (1699BCE), through the English conquest of Ireland, the Great Famine, and the Irish War of Independence and Civil War (1919-1923). The course includes forays into the lives of famous Kerry natives, including St. Brendan, and its landscape and medieval ruins.  

Sean Murphy was born and reared in Dublin and came to live on Cape Cod in 2005, where he worked as a public school math teacher until his retirement in 2017.  He loves to share his passion for his homeland and its history through classes, workshops and conversation. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, he has been teaching Irish history using Zoom, YouTube, and Facebook, through venues that include: the Irish Cultural Center of New England in Canton, the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, the Sons of Erin Cape Cod, the Cotuit Center for the Arts, and libraries and organizations across the state. He also offers online tin whistle classes at the Nantucket Community Music Center.
In 2014 and 2019 he was awarded the Thomas P. McCann "Altruism Award" trophy by the Cape Cod St. Patrick's Day Committee for his "support and commitment to the Culture and Heritage of Ireland and its people."  He is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and served on the Dublin City Development Board from 1998 until 2002.

All of our library programs are free and open to the public. This program is made possible through CARES Act funding to the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

Ask a Genealogist - Irish Sources for Genealogy

March 30, 2021  at 3:00 PM 

Join us as Irish genealogy specialist Lisa Dougherty provides a brief introduction to using the online resource  Irish Genealogy  for family history research.  Lisa's presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer period during which she will demonstrate Irish Genealogy using participants' own family research questions. Users may follow along on their own devices.
The registration process will provide instructions for submitting your question. Feel free to ask about specific individuals you are researching, but understand that Lisa may or may not have success in finding information for you or be able to respond to all participant questions. Due to the format of this event, attendance may be limited.


About the presenter: Lisa Dougherty has 25 of years experience with family history research, with a focus on internet and Irish research. She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and is the Genealogist-in-Residence at the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany, New York. 

This event is sponsored by the Holyoke History Room and is free and open to the public. The program is made possible through CARES Act funding to the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.


The Life and Times of Saint Patrick

The Life and Times of Saint Patrick
with Irish historian Sean Murphy
Tuesday, March 16, 2021  4:00 PM

Saint Patrick is the most famous person associated with Ireland. He is the Patron saint of Ireland and is recognized as having played a major role in the Christianization of Ireland.  There are many myths and legends associated with Patrick.  This talk will look at the historical record based on available facts and accepted understandings.

Patrick was kidnapped in Britain by Irish slave traders and taken to Ireland as a slave at age sixteen. He escaped after six years. He returned as a bishop in his forties and spent twenty-five years ministering to the existing Christian community in Ireland - mostly foreign slaves and refugees - and helped to convert the indigenous Irish. This talk will examine the historical context of his mission in Ireland. This includes a review of the development of Irish society prior to his arrival; an overview of the history of Christianity in England and Ireland; an examination of the crises in Europe as the Roman Empire collapsed and how these influenced developments in Ireland in the fourth and fifth centuries. The talk will also reference the written works of Saint Patrick.

About Sean Murphy

Sean Murphy lives on Cape Cod and teaches Irish history, music and dance.  He teaches at the Irish Cultural Center of New England in Canton, the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, the Sons of Erin Cape Cod, the Cotuit Center for the Arts, and on Nantucket.  He has spoken on Irish cultural and historic issues at libraries and at private and community events around the state.  Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, he has been presenting his courses online using Zoom, YouTube, and Facebook. He has recently decided to offer online Tin Whistle classes at the Nantucket Community and Music School.

In 2014 and 2019 he was awarded the Thomas P. McCann "Altruism Award" trophy by the Cape Cod St. Patrick's Day Committee for his "support and commitment to the Culture and Heritage of Ireland and its people."  He is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and served on the Dublin City Development Board from 1998 to 2002.

Free and open to the public.

This event is sponsored by the Holyoke History Room and is free and open to the public. The program is made possible through CARES Act funding to Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.


Fall 2020 Lectures and Presentations

Fall 2020 Virtual Genealogy and Local History Presentations

November 18, 2020, 4:00 PM

The Newton Brothers: Building Industrial Holyoke, 1862-1899
with Will Melton

Four sons of a lumber entrepreneur from Greenfield, Massachusetts, played an outsized role in making Holyoke the nation's Paper City after the Civil War. As mill builders, financiers, manufacturers, real estate men, and inventors, the Newtons were rarely far from the action in Holyoke's economic boom. When the first signs appeared in the 1880s that canal-side mill sites and cheap sources of wood pulp for their mills were vanishing, the brothers looked to the Deerfield River valley of southern Vermont. By building a narrow gauge railroad into the steep mountain glens, they harvested saw timber and wood pulp to feed their Holyoke paper factories. They cut hardwood lumber to fashion into ocean-liner deck furniture and designed folding chairs for the opera house craze that was sweeping across New England and the new towns cities along the growing network of western railroads.

Recording of this event:

Speaker Will Melton of South Hadley is an amateur historian who recently published his father's account of life aboard Liberty ships during World War II. This talk, postponed from an earlier date, will explore the full range of the Newtons' dynamic careers, drawing upon family documents and photographs as well as the archives of the Library's History Room.


October 28, 4:00 P.M.: A Case Study in French-Canadian Genealogy

Join us as Jack Keane walks us through the process of uncovering his extensive  French-Canadian ancestry.  Appropriate for both newcomers and those with genealogical research experience, Jack's presentation will introduce both common and lesser-known resources, including PRDH (the Canadian database, Research Program in Historical Demography).  E-handouts will be provided to aid participants in their future research. 

Resourcelist-FrenchCanadianResearch Compiled by Jack Keane

More resources at the bottom of our Genealogy Resources Page

Recording of this event:

Raised in Holyoke, Jack Keane is an engineer, naval flight officer, trainer, and expert in military aviation.  After his retirement from the Navy in 1995 at the rank of Lieutenant Commander, he was on the staff of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.  In addition to long service on numerous boards, he remains active in the field as a consultant and cadet mentor.  He nonetheless finds time to research his family history. 

Ancestry Library Edition Access!

New!  During this difficult time, Proquest has made it possible for Holyoke Public Library Patrons to access Ancestry Library Edition remotely, from home. 

Log in with your Holyoke Public Library card by clicking on the line below.  Then choose Holyoke Public Library from the list. 

Remote Access to Ancestry Library Edition  


U.S. collections: hundreds of millions of names from sources such as federal and U.S. censuses; birth, death, and marriage records including the Social Security Death Index; and U.S. border crossing and trans-ocean ship records.

Canadian collections: nearly 60 million records from the Census of Canada, and key vital records, such as the Drouin Collection (1621-1967), which includes nearly 30 million baptism, marriage, and burial records from Quebec.

U.K. collections: censuses for England, Wales, Isle of Man, Channel Islands, and Scotland, with nearly 200 million records: Births and Baptisms (1834-1906), Marriage Licenses (1521-1869), Deaths and Burials (1834-1934), and Poor Law Records (1840-1938) in London, and more.

Other international collections: more than 46 million records from German censuses, vital records, emigration indexes, ship lists, phone directories, and more; Chinese surnames in the large and growing Jiapu Collection of Chinese lineage books; Jewish family history records from Eastern Europe and Russia; and more.

Military collections: over 150 million records containing information often not found elsewhere and includes records from the colonial to the Vietnam era.

Multimedia collections: millions of files ranging from family and gravestone photos to postcards and newsreels.

History Room receives grant to digitize Puerto Rican and Latinx tape collection

For Immediate Release

Holyoke Public Library receives grant to digitize Video Collections documenting Latino and Puerto Rican life in Holyoke

Date:  12 June 2019

The Holyoke History Room of the Holyoke Public Library has received a Recordings at Risk grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).  The award of $14,644 will be used to digitize more than 100 video recordings of the bilingual Vecinos/Neighbors community access television program, filmed in and around Holyoke in the early 1990s.  The grant will also fund digitization of a portion of the VHS recordings in the History Room’s La Familia Hispana, Inc. collection.  The donation of both of these collections was the result of years of conversations and negotiations between Diosdado López of La Familia Hispana, Inc. and Manuel Frau Ramos of the Puerto Rican Cultural Project of the Holyoke Public Library.

The Project was one of only 20 selected from a pool of 77 applicants to receive this competitive grant.  Recordings at Risk is a national regranting program aimed at preserving historically-valuable recorded material endangered by deterioration and format obsolescence.  The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funds the grant program.

Vecinos/Neighbors began recording in 1991 and soon started airing weekly on Continental Cablevision of Westfield, MA.  Producers Carlos Vega, Sylvia Galván, and Gary O’Connor sought to connect viewers with reliable information on issues such as voting, redistricting, education, and community development.  At the same time, by featuring local artists, performers, and community projects, they hoped to counter-balance negative perceptions of Latino communities in Holyoke and the Pioneer Valley so often portrayed in the media.  Many episodes featured guest hosts or interviews with community members, including Orlando Isaza, Diosdado Lopez, Gladys Lebron, José González, Magadelena Goméz, Betty Medina Lichtenstein, Yolanda Nogué, and many others active in their communities.

After Vecinos/Neighbors ceased production, Carlos Vega and others continued to film community events, activities, and performances related to his work as a community organizer. 

Members of CLIR’s independent grant-review panel noted that the project was “timely and urgent.”  As one scholar noted in a letter of support, “These are important cultural, educational, historical, and political stories, told through the perspectives and voices of those who experienced them.”

Holyoke History Room Archivist Eileen Crosby will oversee the grant, which will involve inventorying the collection and working with a digitization vendor.  After digitization, the grant will fund a part-time bilingual intern during the winter months to assist with creating descriptions for each tape and sharing as much content with the public as possible through an online platform.  The intern will also be involved in planning a community event and screening in the Library’s Community Room in early summer 2020.

For CLIR’s announcement of funded projects, see  “Claiming Place: Preserving the History of Puerto Rican and Latino Culture and Politics in Western Massachusetts through digitization of the Vecinos/Neighbors and La Familia Hispana, Inc. video collections” (https://www.clir.org/recordings-at-risk/funded-projects/). For more information about the project, contact the Holyoke History Room Archivist at (413) 420-8107.



Fecha: 12 de junio del 2019

          La Sala de Historia de Holyoke de la Biblioteca Pública de Holyoke ha recibido una subvención de Grabaciones en Riesgo del Consejo de Bibliotecas y Recursos de Información (CLIR). El premio de $14,644 se usará para digitalizar mas de 100 grabaciones de video del programa de televisión de acceso comunitario bilingüe Vecinos/Neighbors, filmado en y alrededor de Holyoke a principios de los años noventa. La subvención también financiará la digitalización de una parte de las grabaciones de VHS de la Colección La Familia Hispana, Inc. que están en la Sala de Historia. El Proyecto fue uno de 20 seleccionados de un grupo de 77 solicitantes para recibir esta competitiva subvención. Grabaciones en Riesgo es un programa nacional de canalización de subvenciones destinado a preservar material grabado de valor histórico en peligro de deterioro y por un obsoleto formato. La Fundación Andrew W. Mellon financia el programa de becas.  La donación de ambas colecciones fue el resultado de años de conversaciones y negociaciones entre Diosdado López de La Familia Hispana, Inc. y Manuel Frau Ramos del Proyecto Cultural de Puerto Rico de la Biblioteca Pública de Holyoke.  

          El programa Vecinos/Vecinos empezó a grabarse en 1991 y comenzó a emitirse semanalmente en Continental Cablevisión de Westfield, MA.  Los productores Carlos Vega, Sylvia Galván y Gary O'Connor buscaron conectar a los espectadores con información confiable sobre temas como la votación, la redistribución de distritos, la educación y el desarrollo comunitario. Al mismo tiempo, al presentar artistas locales, a intérpretes, músicos y proyectos comunitarios, esperaban contrarrestar las negativas percepciones de las comunidades latinas en Holyoke y el Pioneer Valley que tan a menudo se presentan en los medios de comunicación. Varios episodios incluyen anfitriones invitados o entrevistas con miembros de la comunidad como Orlando Isaza, Diosdado López, Gladys Lebrón, José González, Magadelena Gómez, Betty Medina Lichtenstein, Yolanda Nogué y muchos otros activos miembros de la comunidad.

          Después de que Vecinos/Neighbors cesó su producción, Carlos Vega y otros continuaron filmando eventos comunitarios, actividades y actuaciones relacionadas con su trabajo como organizador comunitario. Ambas colecciones de cintas fueron donadas a la Biblioteca en 2018 con el mutuo objetivo de preservar su contenido y compartirlo con el público. Los miembros del independiente panel de revisión de subvenciones de CLIR señalaron que el proyecto fue "oportuno y urgente". Como señaló un académico en una carta de apoyo "estas son importantes historias culturales, educativas, históricas y políticas que se cuentan a través de las perspectivas y voces de los que las experimentaron ".

          Eileen Crosby, la archivera de la Sala de Historia de Holyoke supervisará la subvención lo que implicará inventariar la colección y trabajar con un proveedor de digitalización. Después de la digitalización, la subvención financiará un interno/a bilingüe de medio tiempo durante el invierno para crear descripciones para cada cinta y compartir el contenido con el público a través de una plataforma en línea. El/la interno/a también participará en la planificación de un evento comunitario y una proyección en la Sala de la Comunidad de la Biblioteca a principios del verano de 2020.

          Para ver el anuncio de proyectos financiados por CLIR, consulte “Claiming Place : Preserving the history of Puerto Rican and Latino Culture and Politics in Western Massachusetts through digitization of the Vecinos/Neighbors and La Familia Hispana, Inc. video collections  (https://www.clir.org/recordings-at-risk/funded-projects/).

          Para obtener más información sobre el proyecto, comuníquese con la Archivera de la Sala de Historia de Holyoke al (413) 420-8107.

History Room Virtual Events

Short Skirts, Oh My!

A virtual talk in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment

4:00 PM  - Wednesday July 15

with actress and performer Anne Barrett

This event has passed.  Future virtual events will be posted to this space as they are scheduled.

The 1920s saw skirts and hairstyles reaching unseemly heights, and women were voting! Enjoy
following the evolution from Abigail Adams advising husband John to “remember the ladies” to the
shocking emergence of the 1920’s “fiery youth.”

Join us online as Anne Barrett gives an entertaining lecture on the history of the movement for women's rights in the U.S.

Please register as soon as possible and no later than 3PM on 7/15.  After registering, you will receive a link to join the meeting. Please retain this email, as the link and password are the only means by which you will be able to join the event. Although every effort will be made to send a reminder email with the link, these emails sometimes can be blocked by personal email accounts.

Please check prior to the event to be certain you have received the join link and contact the host (historyroom @holyokelibrary.org) if you did not. Re-registering for the event will not automatically send you a new join link. 

We strongly recommend that you join the event a few minutes early.  You will enter a waiting room and the host will admit you. 

Virtual Local History Talk

June 24, 2020  4:00 PM 
“Race, Class and Gender in Holyoke’s Struggle for Woman Suffrage” 
with Sharon Farmer, U.C. Santa Barbara Professor emer


August 26 of this year marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women throughout the U.S. the right to vote. The fight for women’s suffrage, which officially began in 1848 in Seneca Falls, NY, has often been perceived as a struggle by and for elite, well-educated, white, protestant women. And it is certainly true that in their fight for women’s right to vote some of the national leaders of the movement – Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Carrie Chapman Catt, among others – expressed sentiments and promulgated positions that were elitist, racist, and anti-immigrant.
In Massachusetts, however, leaders of the suffrage movement pitched a tent that was much more inclusive than that of the national movement, and this was just as true in Holyoke as it was in the state at large. Holyoke’s three leading suffragists included Nellie Boland, an Irish Catholic immigrant and industrial worker who led several major strikes among women workers of the paper mills of Holyoke and other towns in the area. The other two who constituted this trio – Minnie Ryan Dwight (daughter of Irish immigrants) and Elizabeth Towne -- were well known journalists who emphasized that only by gaining the vote would the 8 million working women of the U.S. be able to find legislative protection in the work place. Farmer will share her research into the suffrage movement in Massachusetts, placing it in the context of the activist careers of these three Holyoke women.  

Sharon Farmer recently moved to Holyoke after retiring from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she taught medieval European history for 33 years. Her interest in Holyoke's suffragists grew out of her involvement with the Northampton Area League of Women Voters, which is now preparing a special issue of the Daily Hampshire Gazette that will celebrate, in August, the 100th Anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment.


Keeping the Lights on For Ike - A Virtual Book Talk with Rebecca Daniels

Saturday, June 13, 2020 at 10:30 AM

Join us as Rebecca Daniels reads from and discusses the making of her new book, Keeping the Lights on for Ike: Daily Life of a Utilities Engineer at AFHQ in Europe During WWII; or, What to Say in Letters Home When You're Not Allowed to Write about the War.

Daniels's book, a memoir about her parents' courtship and marriage while her father was deployed in Algeria, Italy, and Europe, is based on her own extensive collection of family correspondence and photographs. A love story at its heart, the book is enriched by her meticulous research into personal correspondence during wartime and into the lives of support soldiers in WWII.

Rebecca Daniels has been a university professor for many years with a vital, creative career in the theatre. Her groundbreaking book on women directors and the effects of gender on their work is currently still in print [Women Stage Directors Speak: Exploring the Effects of Gender on Their Work, McFarland, 1996]. After her retirement in the summer of 2015, she was finally able to focus all her energies on this book.

To learn more about the author and the book, see:



Please pre-register by clicking the link above.  You will receive a confirmation email with a link that will allow you to join the event at the scheduled time.  It is not difficult to join a Zoom event, but if you have questions or would like a free tutorial, please feel free to contact us via the address in your confirmation email. 

Blacksod Immigration to Holyoke, with Sara Campbell

Join us for our first Virtual History Room Lecture/Discussion! 

This free event will take place on the Zoom platform on

Wednesday, May 20, at 4:00 PM

(Questions about using Zoom?  See below.)

Registration is now closed 

Studying history, or family history, is often enriched by locating obscure sources of information. Genealogist Sara Campbell will lead us through records surrounding the families who came from western County Mayo in the 1880s under the sponsorship of James Tuke, an English Quaker. Some of the families who came to Holyoke were Lavalles, Sullivans, Monaghans, Taughers, Caffertys, and Kanes. Because these immigrants were relocated as family units, the ship passenger lists give us a picture of the entire group. 
Irish immigrant research is a popular topic which has become more accessible as records in Ireland are digitized. The talk will include some general information about Irish records and where to find them.

Sara Campbell brings her engineering training into solving genealogical problems. She is an author, editor, blogger, and frequent speaker at libraries and genealogical societies in the region. She met the individuals behind the Blacksod Bay Assisted Immigration Project in Ireland last August. She has been working on her own family research for 30 years.

Funded by the Holyoke Local Cultural Council, a local agency funded by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.  

Please pre-register by clicking the link above.  You will receive a confirmation email with a link that will allow you to join the event at the scheduled time.  It is not difficult to join a Zoom event, but if you have questions or would like a free tutorial, please feel free to contact us via the address in your confirmation email. 


lso:  The History Room is organizing small-group virtual meetings for those engaged in family history research.  We'll share resources and successes and discuss brick walls.  We aim to have a genealogist at most meetings to provide tips and guidance.  Interested?  Email us at historyroom [@] holyokelibrary.org .


March 2020 Events

The class below is CANCELLED. 

Wednesdays, March 4, 11, 18, 4:00 PM

Using RootsMagic family tree software

In this three-part class (March 4, 11, 18), Hillary Schau will introduce participants to RootsMagic, a powerful family tree software program that allows you to build your family tree and organize your family history records, securely, on your own computer.  

Open only to those who pre-registered prior to March 4 and attended at least one of the earlier sessions. 

Workshop leader Hillary Schau is a professional genealogist from Western Mass with long experience assisting others with their family history research. She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and the Western Massachusetts Genealogical Society. 


The event below has been POSTPONED until September. 

Saturday, March 28, 10:30 AM

The Newton Brothers, Builders of Industrial Holyoke, with Will Melton

Four sons of a lumber entrepreneur from Greenfield, Massachusetts, played an outsized role in making Holyoke the nation's Paper City after the Civil War. As mill builders, financiers, manufacturers, real estate men, and inventors, the Newtons were rarely far from the action in Holyoke's economic boom. When the first signs appeared in the 1880s that canal-side mill sites and cheap sources of wood pulp for their mills were vanishing, the brothers looked to the Deerfield River valley of southern Vermont. By building a narrow gauge railroad into the steep mountain glens, they harvested saw timber and wood pulp to feed their Holyoke paper factories. They cut hardwood lumber to fashion into ocean-liner deck furniture and designed folding chairs for the opera house craze that was sweeping across New England and the new towns cities along the growing network of western railroads.

Our speaker, Will Melton of South Hadley, is an amateur historian who recently published his father's account of life aboard Liberty ships during World War II. This talk, the second in the Library's Building Holyoke series, will explore the full range of the Newtons' dynamic careers, drawing upon family documents and photographs as well as the archives of the Library's History Room.

In the Community Room.  Free and open to the Public. 

Jumpstart Your Genealogy

Ponga en marcha su genealogía

Wednesdays: October 16 - November 6
4:30 – 6:00 PM
with Hillary Schau and José Méndez

This four-class session is aimed at those new to genealogy and those who want a refresher on researching and organizing their family histories.  Pre-register for one or more (even all four) sessions.  Led by professional genealogist Hillary Schau.  New this year:  family historian José Méndez will offer bilingual (Spanish/English) research assistance at each class as needed. 

All classes take place in the Computer Classroom, Third Floor. 
Class sessions are from  4:30 – 5: 30.   One-on-one help or research on your own: 5:30-6:00.

I. October 16: Introduction to online and print sources for genealogy; starting your family tree;  staying organized. 
II. October 23: Vital Records and the Census:  how to locate and understand the foundational records of your family tree. 
III. October 30:  Immigration and Naturalization Records: learn the basics of finding and understanding passenger lists, immigration documents, and other sources that document your ancestors' origins and movements.
IV. November 6:  Everything else!  Brief introductions to Military Records, Land Records, DNA research, personal papers, and digital recordkeeping.

Free, but pre-registration is required.  To pre-register: Call (413) 420-8107 and leave your telephone and email address.  You will receive a call back to confirm your registration. Enrollment limited to 11 per session. 

Ponga en marcha su genealogía

Los miércoles, del 16 octubre al 6 noviembre

4:30 - 6:00 PM

Esta serie de cuatro clases es para aquellos nuevos en la genealogía y aquellos que desean un repaso en la investigación y organización de sus historias familiares. Puede pre-inscribirse en una o más (inclusive las cuatro sesiones). Las clases son dirigidas por la genealogista profesional Hillary Schau. Nuevo este año: historiador familiar José Méndez ofrecerá asistencia de investigación bilingüe (español/inglés) en cada clase según sea necesario.

Todas las clases serán en el salón de computadoras en el tercer piso. Las clases serán de 4:30 – 5: 30PM. Luego, ayuda individual o puede investigar por su cuenta de 5:30 – 6:00PM.

I. 16 octubre: Introducción a las fuentes en línea e impresas para la genealogía; comenzar su árbol genealógico, y mantenerse organizado.

II. 23 octubre: Registros vitales y el censo: cómo ubicar y comprender los registros fundamentales de su árbol genealógico.

III. 30 octubre: Registros de inmigración y naturalización: aprenda los conceptos básicos para encontrar y comprender listas de pasajeros, documentos de inmigración y otras fuentes que documenten los orígenes y movimientos de sus antepasados.

IV. 6 noviembre: ¡Todo lo demás! Breve introducción a los récords militares, registros de tierra, investigación de ADN, documentos personales y mantenimiento de registros digitales.

Gratis, pero pre-inscripción es requerida. Para pre-inscribirse: Llame al (413) 420-8107 y deje su teléfono y correo electrónico (e-mail).  Recibirá una llamada para confirmar su inscripción. Inscripción limitada a 11 participantes por sesión.

The Photographs of Vincent D'Addario

Vincent D'Addario: A Life in Photography

Opening Reception: June 8, 2019, at 10:30 AM
Holyoke Public Library Community Room

Exhibit on view: June 8 - July 6, 2019, during regular Library Hours

To Holyoke native Vincent S. D’Addario (1930-2011), the art and craft of photography was both a livelihood and a passion. His work as a news, commercial, and portrait photographer was recognized in his lifetime with numerous awards.

This exhibit highlights 33 extraordinary images from the History Room’s recently-acquired collection of D’Addario prints and negatives. Guest Speaker James Gehrt, photographer, Digital Projects lead at Mount Holyoke College, and adjunct professor of the history of photography at Simmons College,
will place D’Addario’s work in context at the Exhibit Opening.

For the full press release, click here.

For the Facebook event page, click here.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Holyoke Local Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.


Bilingual Genealogy Clinic

Clínica de Genealogía Bilingüe

Tuesday, June 18, 2019 / Martes 18 de junio de 2019

4:00 - 5:30 in the Computer Classroom


Nuestra Clínica de Genealogía de junio contará con asistencia bilingüe con genealogía enfocada en las fuentes en español, incluyendo el Censo Puertorriqueño y los Registros Civiles. 

Our June Drop-in Genealogy Clinic will feature bilingual assistance with genealogy focusing on Spanish-language sources, including the Puerto Rican Census and Civil Registrations.

Tanto los que son nuevos en la investigación de historia familiar como aquéllos con experiencia son bienvenidos. Hillary Schau y José Méndez estarán disponibles para asistirle. No es necesario registrarse previamente. 

Newcomers to family history research and those with experience are welcome.  Hillary Schau and José Méndez  will both be available to help. 

No pre-registration needed.  Just come by the Computer Classroom between 4 and 5:30 PM. 

Solo venga al salón de computadoras, localizado en el 3er piso, entre las 4:00PM y 5:30 PM. 

Limitado a 11 participantes. Para más información: (413) 420-8107




Limited to 11 participants.

For more information:

(413) 420-8107

The Holyoke Public Library provides free access to Ancestry Library Edition and American Ancestors from all Library computers. The History Room is also open until 6:00 PM on Tuesdays.


A History of Golf in Holyoke

with Tom Kass

Wednesday, May 22, 2019, 6:30 – 7:30 PM

Holyoke Public Library Community Room

The late 19th and early 20th centuries brought not only industry and prosperity to Holyoke, but a demand for physical, athletic, and social activities for its people.  The introduction of the sport of golf at the turn of the 20th century appealed to the mill owners and businessmen as well as the workers.  Tom Kass's talk will explore the origins of three of Holyoke's golf courses and the colorful personalities involved in golf in Holyoke through the years. 
Tom is a licensed forester in Massachusetts and has been playing golf for almost 50 years.  He has been a member at two of Holyoke’s courses and has given presentations on other aspects of life in Holyoke, past and prese
nt.  Free and open to the public.


Tales of the Pedlar

Tales of the Pedlar

An afternoon of stories and memories of Holyoke’s

Yankee Pedlar Inn and Restaurant

Holyoke Public Library Community Room

Saturday, February 2, 2019        1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

The famed Yankee Pedlar Inn and Restaurant was for decades an elegant local gathering spot and a destination for those in search of a fine dining experience.  Housed in the 1882 home of Judge John Hildreth and outfitted with remnants of Kenilworth Castle, it was one of the hubs of local social and political life. 

On February 2, we have invited two former Pedlar employees to share their memories of the restaurant in the 1970s. A part of the afternoon will be devoted to audience sharing of their own recollections of this Holyoke institution in its heyday.  For more information, call (413) 420-8107.


Everything you ever wanted to know about the Census (almost)

November 17, 2018 
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Holyoke Public Library Community Room 

Join us for an introduction to one of the most useful sources for family history research: Census records.  Hillary Schau will delve into the history of the U.S. Federal Census and explore how the census questions and census-taking changed over time.  She will demonstrate how to search census records and interpret what you find, pointing out the most common pit-falls and problems.  Hillary will also explore some U.S. Census substitutes for the 1890 Census (destroyed by fire) and show participants how to find non-U.S. census records using Ancestry Library Edition.  

Morning program limited to 30 participants. Pre-registration strongly recommended.  Call (413) 420-8107 or email historyroom[at]holyokelibrary.org .

You may bring your own box lunch or snack to enjoy in the Community Room (until 12:30).

For hands-on work with the census, drop in at the Computer Classroom after the presentation:  12:30 – 2:00 PM.  Hillary will be there to answer questions and offer personalized tips. The Computer Classroom has 11 workstations.

Free and open to the public.

About the presenter: Hillary Schau has been helping people with their research and individual brick walls for many years.  A member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and the Western Massachusetts Genealogical Society, she also volunteers at the Family Search Affiliate Library at the Chicopee Library.  




Liberty’s War An Engineer’s Memoir of the Merchant Marine, 1942-1945

Monday, October 15, 6:00 PM

Holyoke Public Library Community Room


In 1941, Herman Melton, a farm boy who had never seen the ocean, submitted an application for admittance to the U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps.  

More than fifty years later, with the help of his son, he composed a memoir of his wartime experiences as a Merchant Marine engineer.  

The Merchant Marine became the workhorse of the military supply system and a critical factor in the outcome of World War II, but there are few surviving accounts of life below the decks of these remarkable ships. Stories of combat and the sinking of his ship are told in vivid detail in this carefully-researched book, along with the love story of Herman Melton and his future wife, Helen Louise Dunn.  

Will Melton, who edited and helped research Liberty’s War (2017), will bring an engaging presentation based on his father’s memories and primary source materials, followed by a Q & A. 
Free and open to the public.









Beauty in the Details: Exploring the Styles of Victorian Architecture- A Workshop and Walking Tour

Saturday, September 8, 2018, 10:00 AM

Join us as Eric Gradoia, Director of Historic Preservation at Historic Deerfield, returns to Holyoke.  We start at 10:00 AM with a brief workshop on identifying popular Victorian home styles. Then we will take an informal walking tour of the historic Oakdale neighborhood north of the Library, where Eric will provide an architectural historian’s view of the area’s hidden and not-so-hidden gems. We plan to conclude at approximately 12:30. Free. 


Limited to 25 participants. To reserve a place, call the Holyoke History Room (413) 420-8107.


Pine Street streetscape, c. 1890


Franco-America in the Making, a book talk and reading with Jonathan Gosnell (Smith College)

Saturday, July 14, 10:00 AM -  Holyoke Public Library Community Room

There are twenty million French speakers and people of francophone descent in North America.  Although they are the fifth-largest ethnic group in the United States, their cultural legacy has remained nearly invisible.

In Franco-America in the Making: The Creole Nation Within, which will be released July 1, Jonathan K. Gosnell examines the manifestation and persistence of hybrid Franco-American literary, musical, culinary, and media cultures in North America, especially in New England and southern Louisiana. Gosnell’s research seeks out hidden French or “Franco” identities and sites of memory in the United States and Canada, examining institutions of higher learning, literature, folklore, newspapers, women’s organizations, and churches. This study situates Franco-American cultures within the new and evolving field of postcolonial Francophone studies by exploring the story of the peoples and ideas contributing to the evolution of Franco-American cultural identity in the New World.  Gosnell, Professor of French Studies at Smith College, includes source material drawn from the newspaper La Justice (Holyoke History Room) and the Franco-American Women’s Association of Chicopee.  Gosnell will describe his 10 years of research, share excerpts from the book, and discuss his findings. 

For more about the book: http://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/university-of-nebraska-press/9780803285279/ .  Free and open to the public. 




Victorians at Home Holyoke's Gilded Age Architecture, with Eric Gradoia

Saturday, June 9, 2018    1:00 PM

Holyoke Public Library Community Room

Holyoke’s nineteenth-century building boom produced hundreds of ornate Victorian homes, many of which still grace the city’s streets.  This talk by Eric Gradoia, Director of Historic Preservation at Historic Deerfield, will explore how Victorian home styles, with origins in England, became so popular in Holyoke and other North American cities during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries.  A broad discussion of the period will look at the factors that made these fashionable styles available to the middle class and show how domestic life, advances in building technologies, printed media, and mass-produced and distributed construction materials made these home designs possible.  Gradoia’s presentation will use examples from the Holyoke History Room’s architectural photograph collections—including the Milan P. Warner Collection—to illustrate key points and concepts.

Free and open to the Public.

Sponsored by the Holyoke History Room.


Genealogy Drop-in

Drop-in Genealogy
at the
Holyoke Public Library
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
June 20  &  27
Computer Classroom

Last chance to jumpstart your summer family history research by consulting with professional genealogist Hillary Schau at these free drop-in sessions. 
Hillary can help you:
  • Decide if, when, why, and how to pursue DNA testing.
  • Identify exactly where your summer research trip should take you:  Are those records at a town hall?  county courthouse? or state archives?  Hillary can help you find answers to these questions and avoid disappointing side-trips.
  • Dig deeper into the ever-changing world of online research.
  • Organize, organize, organize (and back up!)--especially important if you plan to take your research notes on the road. 
Hillary will NOT be holding these sessions during the remaining summer months, so, if you want to get her advice, be sure to come on June 20 or 27 (or both!).

The Holyoke History Room will be open until 6 PM on Genealogy Drop-in days.  The History Room has many sources not accessible online, including Holyoke Transcript newspaper obituaries, Holyoke High School Yearbooks, selected church repertoires, and more.


Victorian Lady

Victorian Lady: Dressing from Corset to Gloves
with Kandie Carle
 Saturday, May 19, 2018
11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
 Holyoke Public Library Community Room
Dressing in the Victorian Era was a complex affair.  For women, especially, their multilayered ensembles were expected to conform to the demands of fashion and propriety, which varied with the occasion, season, and time of day.  Then as now, many women had to meet these demands on a budget.  What was involved in getting dressed?  How long did it take?  How did women on a budget still dress “respectably?”
Fashion historian and performance artist Kandie Carle will introduce the components of a lady’s ensemble and demonstrate the process of getting dressed, explaining how each piece was worn, as well as when and where it was appropriate. Throughout the presentation, Ms. Carle will share insights into the clothing, lifestyle, manners, etiquette, and customs of men, women, and children in the Victorian Era. Ms. Carle draws on many years of research in social history and fashion as well as her longtime work in theater.


One-on-One Research Consultations with Genealogist Lisa Dougherty

between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM

Are you working on your family history and have hit a brick wall?  Interested in genealogy but not sure how to get started?  Had your DNA test done but don’t know what it all means? Don’t miss this opportunity for a 15-minute session with professional genealogist Lisa Dougherty.  With over 20 years experience, she focusses on internet research and is especially skilled at accessing and digging information out of Irish records.  Ms. Dougherty is also the Genealogist-in-Residence for the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany, NY. 
Bring your questions and get ready to jump-start your family history! 
No matter where you are in the research process, you might benefit from some one-on-one assistance from an expert.

To reserve your time with Ms. Dougherty on November 4, please call (413) 420-8107 to register.  We ask that you commit to a specific time slot.

On November 4, come to the History Room to check in before your scheduled session.  The History Room will be open from 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM that day.


Author talk and Book signing
Professor Llana Barber
Holyoke Public Library Community Room
Friday, October 20, 2017

Gathering and book signing: 5:00 P.M.
Talk: 5:30 P.M.

"Latino City explores the transformation of Lawrence, Massachusetts, into New England’s first Latino-majority city.  The arrival of tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans and Dominicans in the late twentieth century brought new life to the struggling city of Lawrence, but settling there meant facing hostility from their neighbors, exclusion from local governance, inadequate city services, and limited job prospects.  Latinos fought and organized for the right to make a home in the city.  Pushed to migrate by political and economic circumstances, poor and working-class Latinos had to reckon with segregation, joblessness, disinvestment, and profound stigma.  For many Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, there was no “American Dream” awaiting them in Lawrence; instead, Latinos struggled to build lives for themselves in the ruins of industrial America. "
Join us as Dr. Barber shares her insights and invites us to explore the parallels between Holyoke and Lawrence in the recent past.  Latino City will be available for purchase and signing at the event (cash or check only).  Llana Barber completed her Ph.D. at Boston College and is Assistant Professor of American Studies at SUNY-Old Westbury.
Dr. Barber's talk is co-sponsored by the Public Humanities Center at Holyoke Community College, the Puerto Rican Cultural Project, the Friends of the Holyoke Public Library, and the Holyoke History Room.  It is also the inaugural event for the Holyoke Public Library's collecting initiative: Saber es poder: Resources on Puerto Rican and Latinx History, Culture, and Social Movements.  Sponsored with help from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Carlos Vega Fund for Social Justice. For more information, call (413) 420-8107.


The History Room's Fall/Winter line-up of Events

Tuesday October 17, 5:30 PM: What went wrong in the Planned Industrial City?

Friday, October 20, 5:00 PM:  Author Talk and Book Signing:  Latino City (talk begins at 5:30)

Saturday, November 4, 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM: One-on-one Research Consultations with Genealogist Lisa Dougherty

Tuesday, December 5, 5:30PM:  A reading and book signing with Robert T. McMasters, author of Noah's Raven (Trolley Days series).

Saturday, January 13, 1:00 PM:  U.S. Immigration policy in historical perspective, with Professor David Hernandez (Mount Holyoke College)

The Holyoke Public Library is also hosting 2 screenings of the
HCC Spanish Film festival:

5 October, 6:00 PM: NERUDA, with Gael García Bernal.   "A delightful mishmash of the biopic and film noir… it is rare to see a fact-based film with this much daring or formal beauty" – The Washington Post

19 October, 6:00 PM: IXCANUL/VOLCANO . "A transporting, hypnotically beautiful debut feature from Guatemalan director Jayro Bustamante" - Variety


with James M. Sheehan

Saturday, October 7, 2017, 10:30 AM
Holyoke Public Library Community Room

Family farms once dominated the land that would eventually become the industrial city of Holyoke.  In the Homestead Avenue/Westfield Road area, family farms were thriving into the twentieth century.  Local historian Jim Sheehan, who as a child helped deliver milk from his own family's farm to the apartment-dwellers in the city, is back for a second lecture on 'Holyoke's Forgotten Family Farms.'  Drawing on first-person interviews, photographs, maps, deeds, and his own memories, Jim's talk  will provide a close-up view of the culture and history of Holyoke's farm community in the twentieth century. Free and open to the public.


A talk by Professor Robert Forrant
Holyoke Public Library Community Room
Tuesday, October 17, 5:30 PM

For over 150 years, hundreds of firms in the Connecticut River Valley built the world’s metalworking, textile, and paper-making machinery; cutting tools; and measuring and inspection devices. Companies in the region purchased these machines to produce rifles, carriages, rail cars, blank books, paper products, ice skates, bicycles, motorcycles, fine writing paper, and more. In his talk, Professor Forrant describes how and why the vibrant economy of Holyoke and the larger valley, which once supported thousands of workers and their families, took a turn for the worse in the 1960s and 1970s.

Robert Forrant is the author of several books and numerous articles on industrial history and deindustrialization. He was named UMass Lowell Distinguished University Professor in 2016. Forrant, a former Holyoke resident, worked for many years as a machinist at the American Bosch plant in Springfield before its 1986 closure. Free and open to the public

Nuestros Senderos Project Update / Actualización del Proyecto Nuestros Senderos

Thank you to all who contributed to the Nuestros Senderos Project.  In the coming months, project staff will be processing the many family photos shared by contributors in preparation for making these available online.  Classes at HCC and the University of Puerto Rico will be involved in creating the bilingual online descriptions of these items. We will also be meeting with a few more families and individuals who have stories and other material to contribute.  These rich personal stories say so much about the city and those who live here—more than any report or data table can
Gracias a todos los que contribuyeron al Proyecto Nuestros Senderos. En los próximos meses el personal del proyecto estará procesando las fotografías familiares compartidas por contribuidores, para que estén disponibles por el internet. Estudiantes de HCC y de la Universidad de Puerto Rico participarán en la creación de las descripciones bilingües por el internet. También nos reuniremos con más familias e individuos que contribuirán historias y otros materiales. Estas valiosas historias personales dicen tanto acerca de la ciudad y de aquellos que viven aquí—más de lo que puede decir cualquier reporte o tabla de datos.
All of these contributions have created the foundation of collection that will be available for use by the public to explore the history of Puerto Rican and Latino culture and society in Holyoke.  We hope to continue to build and share this collection in the coming months and years.
Estas contribuciones han creado la base para una colección que estará disponible al uso público para que se puedan explorar la historia de la cultura y sociedad puertorriqueña y latina en Holyoke. Esperamos continuar construyendo y compartiendo esta colección en los próximos meses y años
Below are some scenes from the June exhibit from the project, Cada Familia Tiene una Historia/Every Family has a Story.  Most of these images are also on our Facebook page.  This portable exhibit can be viewed by appointment at the History Room and will be on display again at the Latino Pride Panel, October 18, 2017, at Holyoke Community College. For more information,
please contact the History Room Archivist at (413) 420-8107.
A continuación se encuentran escenas del proyecto en la exhibición de junio, Cada Familia Tiene una Historia/Every Family Has a Story. La mayor parte de estas imágenes se encuentran también en nuestra página de Facebook. Esta exhibición portable se puede visitar por cita en el Salón de Historia (History Room) y estará exhibida nuevamente en el Panel de Orgullo Latino (Latino Pride Panel), el 18 de octubre del 2017, en Holyoke Community College. Para más información, por favor comuníquese con la Archivista del Salón de Historia (History Room Archivist) al (413)-420-8107.


Cada Familia tiene una Historia / Every Family has a Story

  Poster: Sylvia Galván    

Cada Familia Tiene una Historia / Every Family has a Story

Usted está cordialmente invitado a

Cada Familia tiene una Historia
 Sábado, 10 de junio del 2017
2:00 PM  - 5:00 PM


Una exhibición de las historias familiares y personales compartidas con el Proyecto Nuestros Senderos de la Biblioteca Pública de Holyoke
2:00 PM: Exhibición , refrigerios
3:00 PM : Oradores y Discusión

Ramon Borges-Mendez (Clark Universidad):
La Formación de comunidades  Puertorriqueñas y Latinas en el Noreste de Estados Unidos.

Joel Blanco-Rivera (Universidad de Puerto Rico):
Archivos comunitarios: una introducción y diálogo.

Con Introducciones  por los invitados especiales Representante Aaron Vega y Manuel Frau-Ramos.
Sala de Comunidad de la Biblioteca Pública de Holyoke
Todos son Bienvenidos
You are cordially invited to

 Every Family has a Story
Saturday, June 10, 2017
2:00 PM – 5:00 PM


An exhibit of the family and personal histories shared with the
Nuestros Senderos Project of the Holyoke Public Library
2:00 PM Exhibits, refreshments
3:00 PM Speakers and Discussion
Ramon Borges-Mendez (Clark University): The Making of Puerto Rican and Latino Communities in the Northeastern U.S.
Joel Blanco-Rivera (University of Puerto Rico): Community Archives:  an introduction and community conversation
With introductions by special guests Representative Aaron Vega and Manuel Frau-Ramos
Holyoke Public Library Community Room
All are welcome


Read the Press release

Holyoke Remembers Mary Doyle Curran: A Centennial Celebration - 3 June 2017

Please join us for this special event sponsored by the Public Humanities Center at Holyoke Community College. The Symposium includes lectures, discussion, lunch, and a local bus tour.  Free and open to the public.  Contact Pat Kennedy and pkennedy@hcc.edu to register.
For details, se:


Nuestros Senderos: Our Journeys and Our Lives in Holyoke

La Sala de  Historia y Archivos de Holyoke recibe una subvención del  Fondo Nacional de las Humanidades para recopilar historias de familias latinas locales 

La Sala de Historia y Archivos de Holyoke ha recibido una Beca de Herencia Común para apoyar sus esfuerzos para crear un archivo de materiales de las  historias de las  familias latinas locales.

Para más detalles sobre el proyecto Nuestros Senderos:​
●    Nuestros Senderos para su organización
●    Lea el comunicado de prensa (Español e Inglés) http://www.holyokelibrary.org/historynuestrossenderos.asp
●    Entérese de noticias de nuestros eventos en facebook:  fb/menuestrossenderosholyoke
●    Reciba actualizaciones electrónicas sobre el proyecto.

¿Preguntas? Llame a la directora del proyecto Eileen Crosby al (413) 420-8107.

The Holyoke History Room receives grant from the
National Endowment for the Humanites to collect
local Latino family history   

The Holyoke History Room has received a Common Heritage Grant to support its efforts to create an archive of local Latino family history materials.  

For more details about the Nuestros Senderos project:

For questions or to volunteer for the projecct, call the Project Director Eileen Crosby at (413) 420-8107. 

Using Irish Records for Your Family History, with Lisa Dougherty

Saturday March 25:  11:00 AM - 1:15 PM 
Even if you know where your ancestor called home in the Emerald Isle, there is still much to discover about your family history using Irish records.  With more resources being made available almost daily, it’s a great time to do online research. Lisa Dougherty, genealogist-in-residence for the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany, NY, will present an up-to-date overview of the records available and how to use them effectively.  The newly-launched collection of Roman Catholic Parish registers available on the National Library of Ireland website will also be examined in depth, with information on how to access and interpret the records.

These two back-to-back sessions are especially useful for those who have already started their Irish family history and want to dig deeper. 
Ms. Dougherty returns to the Holyoke Public Library by popular demand!  

Pre-registration recommended: 413-420-8107   
Holyoke Public Library Community Room.

 Free and open to the public. Participants may bring their own laptop or other device, connect to our free WiFi, and follow along.  


A Polish Odyssey

Tuesday, February 14, 5:00 - 6:30 PM
A Polish Odyssey: The 13-year journey of one Polish immigrant family to Holyoke

Holyoke has always been home to immigrants who came to work in the mills and find new and better lives.  Sara Campbell will tell the story of the Rzewskis and the travails they endured as they tried to reunite the entire family in their new home in Holyoke.  Their journeys were documented with ship manifests, letters, census records, and other documents that show how history interrupted their migration. The story includes conscription into the Russian army, children nearly being scattered from their village during WWI,  and crossing the Pacific to find an injured soldier deep in Russian territory.  Not a romantic love story, but a love story nonetheless.
We will hear the story of this courageous family and review the process of reconstructing their odyssey through family and archival documents.  Sara and a Rzewski family researcher will be on hand after the talk to discuss their research. 
Sara Campbell has been researching her own family since 1990 and has presented a variety of topics in family history at HCC, GCC, the Polish Genealogical Society of Mass, the Western Mass Genealogical Society and the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists.  

Holyoke Public Library Community Room
Free and open to the public.
For more information, call the History Room at 413-420-8107.

Comedy and Tragedy on the Mountain: 70 Years of Summer Theatre on Mt Tom

Monday, January 23, 6:00 p.m.
Library Community Room 

Please join us as author Jacqueline T. Lynch presents her new book, a history of theatrical performance on Mt. Tom from its vaudevillian beginnings to the final act of the Mt. Tom Playhouse in the 1960s.  Lynch's book is the first comprehensive telling of the rich history of theater at Holyoke's beloved amusement park on the mountain.

The evening includes an introduction by special guest Barbara Bernard.  
After the talk/discussion, autographed copies of Ms. Lynch's book will be available for purchase.   

Ms. Lynch is the author of several novels, plays, and non-fiction works, including a biography on the film career of actress Ann Blyth.  Her work as a playwright has received recognition at regional festivals in New England and beyond. Read more about her here. 
Ms. Lynch's historical research for her new book draws on archival collections (including those at the Holyoke History Room) and first-hand accounts.  
An exhibit of matrerials from the History Room's Valley Players Collection and Local History Files will be on display on the third-floor gallery cases until early February. 

This event is free and open to the public. For more information, please call the History Room at 413-420-8107.

A Special Panel Presentation:

From Nothing to Something
The Surprising Start and Rapid Spread of Basket Ball from Springfield to the World

Monday, November 14, 2016
6:00 PM
Library Community Room

In 1891, Luther Gulick, head of physical education at the YMCA Training School in Springfield, instructed his student James Naismith to create an indoor game that would both challenge and interest eighteen athletic Training School students. Basket Ball was the result. In this lively panel discussion, Professors Dennis Gildea and Rick Paar of Springfield College, along with Springfield College Archivist Jeff Monseau, will explore the history and spread of basketball from its origins into the twentieth century.
Among the questions they will address:
  • Just how rapidly did Basket Ball spread?  and why was it and is it so popular?
  • Has money always been an important factor in the game's popularity?
  • What was Muscular Christianity and how did it influence the spread of the game?
  • As Jewish and black athletes formed teams, what happened to the influence of Muscular Christianity?
  • When did basketball become popular with women?
  • And of course:  Is there proof that Basket Ball was invented in Springfield and not Holyoke, as some have maintained?

Professor Dennis Gildea, Ph.D., has taught sports journalism at Springfield College since 1994.  He is a former news reporter and sports editor.  He has published numerous scholarly articles and is the author of Hoop Crazy: The Lives of Clair Bee and Chip Hilton.  Professor Rick Paar, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist who has taught counseling and psychotherapy courses at Springfield College, his alma mater, for the past 30 years.  He and Gildea have presented their story of basketball's origins at the conferences of the Sports Literature Association and the Society for the Study of Chaos Theory.  Jeff Monseau has been Springfield College's Archivist since 2008 and manages an extensive collection of materials related to the history of the YMCA and the history of sports and physical education. 

Researching your French Canadian Ancestors

Monday, October 17, 6:00 p.m.
By 1900, one third of Holyoke's population was of French-Canadian descent.  This evening's special guest Pauline Cusson, editor of the journal American-Canadian Genealogist, will share her expertise in the field of French-Canadian genealogical research, drawing on both U.S. and Quebec resources.  Whether you are just getting started or are an experienced researcher, this presentation will have something to offer.  
A thirty-year board member of the American-Canadian Genealogical Society, Ms. Cusson has given presentations on genealogy and the French-Canadian immigrant experience throughout New England and has extensive experience helping visitors to the ACGS library in Manchester, NH.
Guests who wish to follow along with the hands-on portion of this presentation may bring their laptops or tablets and access our free WiFi. 
This presentation also celebrates the History Room's acquisition of the American-Canadian Genealogical Society's church repertoires for Precious Blood, Sacred Heart, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, which supplement our existing Precious Blood repertoires.  Not sure what a repertoire is?  Join us and find out!
Held in the Community Room, Ground Floor.
Free and open to the public. Pre-registration not required. 

Ghost Story Night

Thursday, October 27, 6:00 p.m.

Do you live in a haunted house Have you seen a ghost? Or do you just have a spine-chilling story to tell?  We will dim the lights and share our stories of unexpected visits, unexplained phenomena, and mysterious events.  The evening will begin with a reading of a  nineteenth-century ghost story from the History Room's collection. 

Please call 413-420-8107 to let us know you are coming.  The Archvist will call back to confirm. 
Stories set in Holyoke or environs preferred.

Recommended for listeners and storytellers aged 12 and up.
Library Community Room.  Free and open to the Public. 

Genealogist Hillary Schau to offer two workshops on RootsMagic family tree software


Are you looking to start entering all your documents into a genealogy management application?  Or start using a family tree program that installs on your own computer and is also portable?  Hillary Schau will offer two workshops at the Holyoke Public Library in June for anyone interested in getting started with RootsMagic or learning more about its features and functions. Both workshops take place in the Computer Classroom (seats 12) and are free and open to the public.  Pre-registration is required. 
Monday, June 6, 2016, 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm:  The first class will provide an overview of the program, both the free version and the upgraded version.  It will go over the installation and  features as well as the process for entering the first people into your tree.  We will also discuss the use of RootsMagic To Go.  With this tool, students  will be able to bring their own tree to future classes and on research visits to any repository with computers. 

Monday, June 13, 2016, 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm:  The second class will continue with a focus on sources and citations, which document where you discovered each fact you have added to your tree. We will also explore the web search feature of the program and how it can be modified to include any genealogy sites that you are currently subscribed to as well as free sites you enjoy visiting.  Last but not least, we will review the important step of backing up your work.  
To pre-register:  Please call Holyoke History Room Archivist Eileen Crosby at (413) 420-8107.
  • Leave your name and telephone number.
  • Which date(s) you are registering for.
  • Please tell us about your specific interest in and experience with RootsMagic: 
    • New user
    • Some experience   
    • Want to learn to import my data from Ancestry or FamilyTreeMaker into RootsMagic

Hillary Schau is an experienced genealogist who offers private consultations as well as workshops on organizing and managing personal genealogical research.  She is a 2015 graduate of the Boston University Genealogical Research Certificate Program and has volunteered for several years at the Family Search Affiliate Library at the Chicopee Library.   She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and the Western Massachusetts Genealogical Society.  Her background in engineering, databases, and education give her a uniquely analytical approach to problem solving and patient style for instruction.   

Basic Hands-on Genealogy - Four-part class in May

Alan Doyle Horbal's 4-part Basic Genealogy class in the Computer Classroom

When: Tuesdays, May 3, 10, 17, & 24, 2016, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Where: Third floor Computer Classroom, Holyoke Public Library, 250 Chestnut Street, Holyoke

To participate, you must:
  • have an email address
  • have basic computer skills (using a keyboard and looking at websites). 
  • sign up for all 4 classes  - call (413) 420-8107 

Alan Doyle Horbal, Genealogist, will show students how to conduct genealogical research. He will present an introduction to genealogy along with helpful hints for conducting your research. You will learn how to use the U.S. Census from 1790-1940 and the Ellis Island website to find relatives coming from Europe. Alan will also demonstrate international research for Canada, Poland, Galicia and England. 
Limited to 12 pre-registered participants. 

Mondays in March: Genealogy with Dave Robison

Genealogy Presentations and Research Clinics
Genealogist Dave Robison (Old Bones Genealogy of New England) will be offering presentation/workshops and genealogy research clinics at the Holyoke Public Library every Monday afternoon in March. See the full schedule below.  Free and open the public.
Please pre-register for the March 21 and 28 sessions by calling (413) 420-8107.
Getting Started with Genealogical Research
Monday, March 7, 4:00-6:00 PM, Community Room
Dave Robison (Old Bones Genealogy) leads a two-hour session aimed at those just getting started with family history research.  Topics will include:
  • Using Ancestry Library Edition and FamilySearch.org to search for ancestors
  • Using other online sources, such as Mocavo/FindMyPast
  • Finding out (and finding) what's not online!
  • Using Facebook genealogy pages
There will be ample time for questions.  If you are able, bring a laptop or tablet to follow along and get started with your own research.  Ancestry Library Edition can be accessed for free anywhere inside the library, including from your own device. 

Genealogical Research: Digging Deeper
Monday, March 14, 4:00-6:00 PM, Community Room
Dave Robison's second presentation is aimed at those with some experience researching family history.  Those who participated in the March 7 session are welcome to attend.  Topics will include:
  • Brick walls and strategies for getting around them (no guarantees!)
  • Common research pitfalls
  • Local archives and historical collections and what to look for in these
  • Gleaning information from census and immigration records
There will be ample time for questions.  If you are able, bring a laptop or tablet to follow along and get started with your own research.  Ancestry Library Edition can be accessed for free anywhere inside the library, including from your own device. 
Mondays, March 21 and 28, 4:00-6:00 PM: Genealogy Research Clinics in the Computer Classroom

Dave Robison continues the series above with two-hour open sessions in the Computer Classroom.  Get guided experience if you are just getting started or use the time to explore new resources and share your own strategies. Bring your library card.
Free, but seats are limited.  Please call to pre-register: (413) 420-8107.


"The Greate Falls Dams of the Connecticut River near Holyoke"

Saturday, February 13, 11:00 AM

Where were the first dams at the great falls at South Hadley? What happened to the Holyoke Wooden Dam of 1848?  What is a millpower? In this slide lecture, local historian Leo Labonte answers these questions and more as he describes the dams and waterwheels constructed in the early industrial era at the Great Falls near South Hadley.  He also tells the story of  the two wooden dams at Holyoke and the building of the stone dam that still holds today.  
The lecture will take place in the Library's Community Room and is free and open to the public.  
For more information, call the Holyoke History Room at (413) 420-8107


Love Letters to a Paper City: Poems of History, Myth, and Un-forgetting

Monday, February 1st, 6:00 PM: Reading and book-signing with Melinda Thomas

"There is poetry everywhere [in Holyoke]," says local poet Melinda Thomas.  Join us in the Community  Room  to hear the author read from her new book and sign copies for guests.  "Whether we find  ourselves in a bakery, church, factory or alley, alone or with others, the poems in Love Letters to a Paper City invite us to experience what is both present and possible. Although the imagery is quite specific to my own Paper City (Holyoke, Massachusetts), once we enter the gate all of us will recognize ourselves--and each other—as neighbors. This collection of poems explores the relationship between humans and geography, that tender geography where history, myth and sense of place merge in a flash of understanding."
Melinda Thomas has a master's degree in American Studies from Pennsylvania State University, a master's in poetry from the University of Massachusetts and a certificate of poetry from University College of Dublin. Her current work on a series of poems on violence in American culture will draw on oral histories with residents of her native city of Philadelphia, the location of major riots in the 1960s.


Regular Hours resume

Our regular hours will resume on January 5: 
Tuesdays 10-6
Wednesdays 12-6
Thursdays 10-4

Due to limited staffing, we cannot always open in inclement weather.  In case of bad weather, please call 413-420-8107 before you make the trip. 

Latino Americans: The landmark 6-hour PBS documentary

Tuesday and Thursday Evenings, November 3 - 19, 6:00 PM
Please join us for this special screening  and community discussion of the entire six-episode PBS documentary Latino Americans. This landmark series weaves together personal stories and new scholarship to illuminate the history of Latino Americans from the sixteenth century to the present.
At each episode, a special guest or guest will introduce the film.  Post-film discussions will follow.  On November 12 and November 19, scholars Ginetta Candelario (Smith College) and Joel Blanco-Rivera (University of Puerto Rico), respectively, will be facilitating the discussion.  Other special guests include Holyoke City Councilor Jossie Valentin, Holyoke Deputy Director of Veterans' Services Wilfredo Melendez, and Dr. Carlos Turriago.  See the full press release for details. Light refreshments will be offered.
When: November 3, 5, 10, 12, 17, and 19,  6:00 PM
Where:  Holyoke Public Library Community Room, 250 Chestnut Street, Holyoke.
Other:  Free and open to the public.  Free parking adjacent to the Library.

These screenings and discussions are part of Herencia Latina 2015-16, an expansive project spearheaded by the Pioneer Valley History Network and the Springfield City Library. It includes fourteen film-and-discussion events, four exhibits, and six cultural programs and festivals,  as well as related events, in Springfield, Holyoke, Northampton, and Turners Falls. A full list of programs and partners can be found on the website
http://herencialatina2015-16.org/ .  The project is funded by grants from the American Library Association, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Mass Humanities, and supported by El Sol Latino, Nuestras Raices, and WGBY Public Television. The Pioneer Valley History Network is a non-profit consortium of historical institutions throughout Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties of western Massachusetts.


Maureen Taylor comes to Holyoke!

Saturday, November 7, 10:30 - 1:00 
Join us (and come early!) for this special visit from this internationally-recognized expert on historic photograph identification, photo preservation and family history research. Sought out by clients all over the world from as far away as New Zealand, Maureen Taylor is a pioneer in the field of historic photo research. Ms. Taylor has a skilled eye for uncovering clues within a picture – a hairstyle, sign in the background, or shape of a shirtsleeve – in order to identify a person, place or era. What follows from her genealogical expertise is the story behind the images of the past, shedding light on what otherwise may remain unknown for centuries. It’s no wonder she was dubbed “the nation’s foremost historical photo detective” by The Wall Street Journal.
Ms. Taylor will present two back-to-back presentation-workshops:
10:30-11:30 Identifying and Dating Family Photographs
11:45-12:45 Reading Immigrant Clues in Photographs

   After the presentations, she will be available to sign and sell her books.


Upcoming Fall 2015 Events Sponsored by the History Room

Saturday, October 17: Our second annual Home Movie Day!
 The History Room is once again collaborating with Jeremy Smith to evaluate and screen home movies in obsolete formats (16mm, 8 mm, Super 8, and VHS) contributed by the public.  Movies do not need to be filmed in Holyoke. No pre-registration needed: Come to the Community Room at 11:00 AM to drop off films, if you have some.  Come at 1 PM for the screening. Free popcorn! 


Jonathan Gosnell: "In Search of French Holyoke"

Wednesday, September 23, 2015, 6:00 PM
Join us in the Library Community Room for Jonathan Gosnell’s exploration of Holyoke’s French community, circa 1900-1920.  Drawing on his research into the cultural history of diasporic French and francophone groups in the United States, Professor Gosnell (French Studies, Smith College) will place French Holyoke in broader context and examine some of the French schools, churches, clubs, societies, and publications that flourished in Holyoke in the early twentieth century. 
Free and open to the public

Claudia and Amedee Gingras, among the earliest French immigrants to Holyoke.

It is with great sadness that we at the Holyoke History Room note the passing of

James H. "Pat" Woods (September 12, 1935 - July 20, 2015).

I knew Pat only from his volunteer work at the History Room from 2012-2014, but appreciating his extraordinary gifts came easy.  His incomparable knowledge of the history of the city alone would have made him an asset, but he brought with that a deep well of patience with those less knowledgeable, a quiet but acute sense of humor, and the wisdom never to let a kind word go unspoken.  His work as a teacher clearly did not end with his official retirement.  It was a great honor to have worked with him. -Eileen Crosby, Archivist

Getting Started with International Genealogy Research

Monday, June 29, 3:30-4:15

Followed by Open Genealogy Research Lab from 4:30-5:30

The last in the series of Spring workshops led by Janet Curley will offer strategies for finding international records. We'll look at examples of records accessible through Ancestry Library Edition and Familysearch.org and at their international research guides.  We'll also look at some free websites that are good places to start your international research. 
Genealogy open lab follows the workshop (until 5:30).

Pre-register by calling 413-420-8107 and leave a message with your name and number. Limited to 12.

Legendary Locals of Holyoke

Book signing and interactive reading with JacquelineSears
Saturday June 20, 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Library Community Room

What do labor organizer Anna Sullivan, nationally-known sportscaster Jack Buck, and photographers Raymond and Vincent D'Addario all have in common? They are Legendary Locals of Holyoke included in Jacqueline M. Sears’s new book by the same name. Sears will  read from and sign copies of her work, published by Arcadia Publishing in April. The author spent more than a year gathering the 170 profiles and pictures in the book, an undertaking that included many conversations with people who have helped shape Holyoke’s history and culture. Her research also included visits to the Holyoke History Room.  At this event, members of the public are invited to sign up when they arrive to read the profile of their favorite person.

Sears is an artist, selectwoman, and former Springfield Republican columnist.
Free and open to the public; copies of the book will be available for purchase.

The History Room will be open for research on the afternoon of June 20th from 1:30-4:00 PM.

Housing in Holyoke: The history of public and low-income housing in Holyoke, 1930s-1980s
Miguel Arce and Jeremy Smith
Wednesday, May 27, 6:00 PM

Library Community Room
Since the appearance of the original 'plan' for Holyoke circa 1850, housing Holyoke's low-income families has been a recurring and often controversial issue. The Holyoke History Room is pleased to present two speakers in one evening whose research and experience will shed light on this important aspect of the city's history. A question-and-answer period will follow the talks. This event is free and all are welcome.

Jeremy Smith: "Crisis & Conservatism: Holyoke's struggle for Urban Renewal"

Jeremy Smith explores the controversies surrounding the construction of the first two federally-funded housing projects in Holyoke in the late 1930s and early 1940s: Lyman Terrace and Jackson Parkway. He will also discuss the urban renewal efforts of the Samuel Resnic and William Taupier mayoral administrations in the 1960s and 70s. His research draws on a wide range of sources, including articles from the historic Holyoke Transcript-Telegram (found at the Holyoke History Room) and local and federal government reports. Smith (B.A., M.S.L.S.) has deep family roots in Holyoke and is currently a staff archivist at the Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Massachusetts as well as board member of Flywheel, a community arts space in Easthampton.

Miguel Arce: "Housing in South Holyoke: A community development perspective, 1983-1990"
South Holyoke, one of Holyoke's lower wards, has always been an entry point for new arrivals. Starting in 1983 and continuing for two decades Nueva Esperanza, Inc. was involved in the redevelopment of multi-family four story tenements which had for 100 years housed newcomers. Miguel's discussion will focus not only on the housing stock, but on the political, economic and social forces that interfaced that community. Miguel Arce is Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Springfield College, specializing in community and organizational practice. His talk draws on his experience as the director of Nueva Esperanza from 1983 to 1989.

Introduction to Genealogy Workshop: It's not online! What now?

May 18, 4:00-5:00 PM

Using internet sources for genealogical research can be rewarding, but not everything you are looking for is online!  This intro workshop led by experienced researcher Janet Curley will help you get started with finding materials in city and town halls, courthouses, libraries, and more. Aimed at those just getting started with genealogy. Computer Classroom, Third Floor. Limited to 12.
Preregister by calling 413.420.8107.

Followed by an Open Genealogy Lab from 5:00 - 6:00 PM.

History Room Events: May 16, May 18, and May 27

Holyoke Remembered Oral History Showcase
Saturday, May 16, 2015: 10:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Inspired by the reminiscences of History Room patrons, we applied in 2013 for a grant to begin recording oral life histories with long-time residents of Holyoke from all walks of life.  Please drop by on the morning of May 16 to see and hear brief excerpts from our first round of interviews and to learn more about the program.  The archivist as well as some interviewees and volunteer interviewers will be on hand to answer questions about the project and its future. Click here for the full press release.

In the Library Community Room.  Free and open to the public.

"Escaping Slavery: African Americans in Western Massachusetts before the Civil War"

Wednesday, April 29, 6:00 PM

Join us as historian Joseph Carvalho III, former president and executive director of the Springfield Museums, shares stories of his research into the history of black families in Hampden County.  Noticing how little of this history appeared in published works, Carvalho began  25 years of research into family papers, legal documents, news sources, and census records, recovering histories once thought permanently lost.  His talk will provide an overview of the early history of African-Americans in New England as well as stories of local families and anecdotes from his research.

Joseph Carvalho III holds degrees from Westfield State University, The College of William and Mary, and the University of Rhode Island and was the director the  Connecticut Valley Historical Museum from 1986-1994. He is an archivist and genealogist as well as a musician and sculptor.

Library Community Room  - Free and Open to the Public

Introduction to Using Census Records for Genealogy

April 27, 2015

4:00 PM, Computer Classroom:   This short workshop will provide new users with an introduction to finding and interpreting U.S. federal census records. Participants will learn which census records are available online and where.  We'll also look at what kinds of information can be found in the census for selected decades.  We'll review how to save, print, or email  search results. At the end of the presentation, participants will explore on their own. Free to all, but pre-registration recommended.  Call 413.420.8107. Limited to 12.  Additional workshops take place on May 18 and June 29,

5:00- 6:00 PM An open-level genealogy research lab follows the workshop.  Come for one-on-one assistance or to connect with other researchers.   No pre-registration required for the drop-in lab. First come, first seated. You may bring your own laptop or tablet.

Two February Events

Taking the Train to Holyoke, Then and Now
Wednesday, February 25, 2015: 6:00 PM

Landscape architect Nancy Howard will share her research on the former passenger rail station at Bowers and Lyman Streets.  Designed circa 1884 by innovative architect H.H. Richardson, this architectural gem served as Holyoke's train station until the 1960s. 

Our second speaker this evening will be Marcos Marrero, Holyoke's Director of Planning and Economic Development.  Mr. Marrero will have the latest news on the much-anticipated return of passenger rail to Holyoke.  He will describe how city planners envisioned and designed the Depot Square train platform and the future of Holyoke as a stop on the Knowledge Corridor.  This event is co-sponsored by the Friends of the Holyoke Public Library, who will showcase their new ornament depicting the H.H. Richardson train station.

 Irish Genealogy with Lisa Dougherty
Saturday, February 21, 2015: 11:00 AM - 1:15 PM

Special guest and veteran genealogist Lisa Dougherty will lead a two-hour lecture/workshop on tracking down Irish ancestors. With almost 20 years of experience in the field, Ms. Dougherty specializes in locating places of origin for Irish immigrants to New York and the New England states. She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and provides volunteer assistance at the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany, New York. This presentation is appropriate for those just getting started as well as more experienced family history researchers.
Pre-registration recommended: 413-420-8107.

Author Talk: Robert T. McMaster and The Dyeing Room

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 - 6:00 PM

Join us as author Robert T. McMaster introduces his new novel, The Dyeing Room. The backdrop to McMaster's dramatic story is the city of Holyoke itself in the spring of 1917, just after the U.S. has entered World War I.  McMaster's work, although fiction, includes myriad references to Holyoke's neighborhoods, institutions, and culture.  Woven into McMaster's story are the local and national issues of the day: labor unrest, new roles for women, alcoholism and the Temperance movement, anti-communism, and much more.  The author will be available to sign copies of his books.

Where: Library Community Room, First Floor
When: 6:00 PM
Free and open to the public.

December 12, 2014 - For immediate release


For anyone under the impression that female race car drivers are a recent phenomenon, they haven’t heard about Joan Newton Cuneo of Holyoke.  That misunderstanding is easily corrected by the recently-published biography Mad for Speed – The Racing Life of Joan Newton Cuneo by Elsa A. Nystrom, emeritus professor of history at Kennesaw State University.  Richard (Dick) Newton, who wrote the Forward to this fascinating biography of his cousin, visited the Holyoke History Room to donate a signed copy of the book to the Holyoke Public Library. 

Producing a book-length biography of Joan Newton Cuneo (1876-1934) posed a real challenge for Professor Nystrom, since very little archival material on her life remains.  Instead, Nystrom researched Newton Cuneo's career through automobile museums, newspaper articles, and by contacting Newton Cuneo's descendants.  Her research took her all over the country and included a stop at the Holyoke History Room.  The result—Mad for Speed—is a richly illustrated and well-written chronicle of the brief racing career of Joan Newton's Cuneo, placed skillfully in its historical context.  It is available to read at the History Room and is also in the Reference Collection at the Library.

Dick Newton and Joan Newton Cuneo both descended from James Hale Newton, one of the original benefactors of the Holyoke Public Library.  Newton supported the Library and served on its Board for more than fifty years.  But Dick Newton's connection to "cousin Joan" is not only familial: during his high school and college years (the latter at AIC) he designed, built, and drove racing cars himself.  After service in the Air Force in Southeast Asia, he pursued a career in the high-tech industry that left little time for his racing interests.

Joan Newton was born in Holyoke in 1876.  Her father was one the Newton brothers, who made their fortunes as builders and paper manufacturers during Holyoke's late nineteenth-century industrial boom. As a young girl, Joan was considered to be something of a "tomboy, [and] enjoyed outdoor activities such as horseback riding, driving a team, and riding a bicycle. She was treated like a boy by her doting father; he even allowed her to drive a steam engine on his short-line railroad." Although her upbringing was outside the norm in some respects, Joan adhered to the conventions of the time when it came to education and dress for young women. Nystrom relates that the adult Joan Newton Cuneo was regarded as "soft-spoken, cultured and refined young lady."

In 1898 she married Andrew Cuneo, the heir to successful Italian immigrant businessman Antonio Cuneo.  Aspects of their marriage remain shrouded in mystery, but we do know that Cuneo's wealth allowed Newton Cuneo to buy her first car.  Although driving was considered dangerous for women, many New York socialites of the time were acquiring chauffeur-driven automobiles.  
Newton Cuneo gained celebrity in 1905, when she was the only woman to compete in that year's 1000-mile Glidden Tour.  She drove a 1905 White Steam Tourer. She went on to participate in numerous other races and won several prestigious awards.  After her attention-getting participation in the New Orleans Mardi Gras Races in 1909 (driving a Knox Giant), the American Automobile Association announced that it would no longer sanction racing events that permitted female entrants.  This action effectively ended Newton Cuneo's competitive racing career, as well as those of other women drivers. Nystrom's chapter "Rivals and Competitors" provides brief biographies of several women who defied social norms with their racing.

Dick and Marge Newton (left and center) donating Mad for Speed to History Room Archivist Eileen Crosby.

A small display of materials related to Joan Newton Cuneo will remain on view on the third floor of the Library into January.  Also on view are artifacts from the lives to two other prominent Holyoke women, Minnie Ryan Dwight (1873-1957, publisher of The Holyoke Transcript-Telegram) and Elizabeth Towne (1865-1960, editor and publisher of the new age magazine The Nautilus).

October 18: Holyoke Home Movie Day!


Your home movies are likely a lot more interesting than you remember!  Home Movie Day gives members of the community a chance to have their home movies evaluated and included in a public screening.  Home movies record how people lived, played and celebrated milestones in the past.  They offer vivid glimpses of lost neighborhoods and landscapes. This celebration of amateur films and filmmaking is held annually at libraries, community centers and theaters worldwide.
This year, the Holyoke History Room invites you to submit your films for viewing in our state-of-the-art community screening room.  Participants will also learn about how best to care for and preserve film and tape.

How to participate:
  • Movies you submit must be in one of the following formats: VHS, 16mm, 8mm, or Super 8mm.
  • Drop off the movies you wish to share and show between 11:00 AM to 12:45PM on October 18th.
  • A screening of portions of all the films will follow at 1:00 PM .
  • Home Movie Day is open to everyone. There are no entry fees or other charges.
For more details, contact Eileen Crosby, Holyoke Public Library Archivist.


Holyoke History Room Guest Speaker

The Wall Family of Holyoke: Using Genealogical Research to Tell the Story of Civil War-Era Irish Immigrants

Wednesday, September 17, 6:30 p.m.  Library Community Room (First Floor)

Every document used in genealogical research leads to new questions.  Join us as guest speaker Sara Campbell follows a typical family through a series of local records and serendipitous finds to add detail to a story that has gone undiscovered.   Dates are only the beginning of the process.  Techniques will be explored that can help in many aspects of historical research.

Sara has been researching her own family since 1990 and has presented a variety of topics in family history at HCC, GCC, Polish Genealogical Society of Mass, Western Mass Genealogical Society and Mass. Society of Genealogists.  She is a genealogy blogger and loves a good historic puzzle.  As Town Engineer in Greenfield, she has explored the Dept. of Public Works' vault and found new sources for genealogists.  She has 'adopted' the Wall family and hopes you will join her in sharing our sometimes forgotten past.

Free and open to the public.

Spring 2014 Lecture Series Videos and clips

Video of
Jim Sheehan on Holyoke's Family Farms.
Jim has amassed a wealth of information on Holyoke's agricultural past.

Charlie Lotspeich on advances in water power in Holyoke.

A short peek at
Tom Kass's talk on "The Whistler," Tom Browne.

Scroll down for full descriptions of each of our past talks.

Genealogy Drop-in Sessions

Mondays in July, 3:00-5:00

July 7, 14, 21, and 28
3:00-5:00 p.m.
Genealogy Research Drop-in Sessions
3rd Floor Computer Classroom (across the gallery from the History Room)

Open to all experience levels.   If you are new to genealogy, get started using Ancestry and other resources with the help of a History Room volunteer.  If you are experienced, come to meet others interested genealogy and share your research tips.
Participants must have a valid Massachusetts library card.

Seating for up to 12 participants at a time.
Pre-register at 413-420-8107 or take a chance and just drop in.

Remembering Ed Kennedy

Here at the History Room we learned with sadness of the recent passing of Ed Kennedy. Although he had not visited us in some time, he was in years past a devoted History Room volunteer known for his energy, knowledge of Holyoke history, and ability to connect with patrons. Hardly a week goes by without someone asking after him. Here he is shown as a young man in a photograph he shared with the History Room.

Holyoke History Room Guest Speaker

May 7, 6:00 p.m."Tom Browne - King of the Whistlers” – Tom Kass

Guests are invited (but not required) to come in period costume or formal dress to this event.

Raised in Holyoke, Tom Browne was employed first as a messenger and then a bookkeeper at the Holyoke Furniture Company.  Born into a musical family, he had discovered his gift for whistling by his teens.  In the 1880s he began performing for clubs and civic organizations. Tom Browne's career led him to Broadway, Europe, and to perform for King Edward VII. Based on extensive research into Brown’s career by his great-grandnephews, the evening's talk will offer a glimpse into late-nineteenth century musical culture and popular entertainment.

The lecture takes place in the Community Room and is free and open to the public. No pre-registration required. 

Please note that our second May lecture, originally scheduled for May 21, has been postponed.     

“The Olmsted Brothers’ Landscape Legacy in Holyoke”

Holyoke History Room Guest Speaker Series

 Amanda Rookey "The Olmsted Brothers' Landscape Legacy in Holyoke"

Wednesday, April 2, at 6:00 p.m. 

The lecture takes place in the Library Community Room and is free and open to the public.  See below for details.


Amanda Rookey, master’s degree candidate in Landscape Architecture at the University of Massachusetts, will share her research into the work of the Olmsted Brothers in Holyoke.  In 1907, John Charles and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., son and stepson of the renowned landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted, came to Holyoke at the request of Mayor Nathan Avery.  Avery, who helped establish the state's first municipal playground commission in Holyoke, had a keen interest in improving outdoor life in a city whose population had soared to 50,000.  At his request, the Olmsted Brothers investigated the history and condition of four Holyoke parks (Springdale, Elmwood, Pulaski, and Jones Point) and provided detailed recommendations for how to protect and develop Holyoke’s substantial natural bounty for the benefit of all its residents. 

Ms. Rookey's research compares the historical parks to the existing park system and to heritage parks in other industrial cities in New England.   On April 2, she will lecture and lead a discussion on the interconnection of landscape, community, history and aesthetics in Holyoke. 

Elmwood Park, undated photograph.

No pre-registration required. 

Upcoming guest speakers:

May 7, 6 p.m.: Tom Kass - "Tom Browne - King of the Whistlers"

May 21, 6 p.m.: David Brule - "Looking for Judah - a journey into a secret family history"

The Library Community Room is on the entry level to the Library, on the right off the foyer.



Upcoming Guest Lecture

Charlie Lotspeich

"John B. McCormick and the Hercules Turbine Water Wheel"

March 5, 2014  6:00 p.m.

Charlie Lotspeich, historian and educator at Holyoke Heritage State Park, has made the evolution and application of water power in Holyoke a special focus of his work.  John McCormick’s two late nineteenth-century inventions, the Hercules Turbine and the Holyoke Turbine, were developed at the Holyoke Machine Company and at J. & W. Jolly.  Lotspeich’s talk will place McCormick’s work in the larger context of the development of water power in Holyoke and explain how his inventions ushered in a "new era in hydrodynamics.” 

The lecture and discussion take place in the Library Community Room.

Free and open to the public.

John B. McCormick in his workshop.  Undated photograph.

History Room Guest Speaker Series

The first event in our new Guest Speakers series

now scheduled for February 19, 2:30 p.m.

Lifelong Holyoke resident Jim Sheehan will draw on 5 years of research and a wealth of childhood memories for his talk on  "Holyoke’s Family Farms.”

(Originally scheduled for 2/5/2014).

 All lectures are free and open to the public. 

Talks take place in the Library Community Room.

  Save the dates:
  •  March 5: Charlie Lotspeich on the McCormick Turbine
  • April 2: Amanda Rookey on the Olmsted Brothers' vision for Holyoke's parks
  • May 7: Tom Kass on Holyoke's famous whistler, Tom Browne
March, April, and May lectures are at 6:00 p.m.

New Genealogy Research Databases

Holyoke Public Library patrons can now search family history in two new genealogical databases, Ancestry Library Edition and Heritage Quest Online.
Ancestry can be accessed only in the Library.
Access to these databases is made possible by a generous donation from the Friends of the Holyoke Public Library.

Ancestry Library Edition provides access to millions of unique, full-text primary sources and enhanced images, including:  U.S., U.K. and Canadian Census records;  Canadian genealogical records;  U.S. military records;  and immigration, passport, and naturalization records.

HeritageQuest Online is a broad database of genealogical information that includes tens of thousands of family and local history books, as well as federal census data.  It’s a great resource for tracing North American lines of descent.  HeritageQuest can be accessed remotely as well as in the Library.  When prompted, type in your Holyoke Public Library card number.

Scenes from the Grand Opening

Thank you to all our patrons for your patience during our move back to the Holyoke Public Library. We have enjoyed seeing so many familiar and new faces.  We had many visitors the day of the Library's Grand Opening (below).  In the second image, the library's portraits of Joseph Parsons (Parsons Paper) and Minnie and William Dwight (Holyoke Transcript-Telegram) are visible.