AncestorNews: Be My Valentine
I recently acquired a Valentine that my grandmother's
younger sister sent to her around 1915. Although
the card is more than 80 years old, the color is still
vivid and the lace paper is in fairly good condition.
When I got the card, I checked the Internet to see if
I could find information about the card or its manufacturer.
I learned that the tradition of sending Valentine cards
was well established in 1700s England. And when settlers
arrived in the New World, they brought the custom with them.
For a long period of time, American merchants imported
Valentines from England.
The "American Valentine Revolution" took place in
1847, when Esther Howland of Worcester, Mass., began
using imported lace and fine paper to create her handmade
cards. Then, in 1866, George Whitney opened a Valentine
manufacturing company in Worcester, producing machine-made
Valentines and other seasonal cards. For several years,
thanks to Howland and Whitney, Worcester was known as the
Valentine Capital of America.
The reverse of my grandmother's card carries the
imprint "Whitney Made, Worcester, Mass." Clearly, the George
Whitney company manufactured her card. Although I couldn't
find an exact match, I did find a card that came close
to the one sent to my grandmother by visiting
If you have a vintage family Valentine, send me a
picture of it.
Want to learn more about the origins of Valentine's
cards? Surf over to these Web sites:
Postcard and Greeting Card Museum
History of the Valentine
The History and Legends of Valentine's Day
European and American Valentines
For moreabout holiday history, visit www.familytreemagazine.com/ancestornews/current.html.
Nancy Hendrickson is a contributing editor for Family Tree Magazine. She also is a family historian, freelance writer
and the author of the upcoming book, Finding Your Roots Online, on sale May 2003. Her Web site
is at www.ancestornews.com. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org