Documenting the Past: A Closer Look at Our Historical Collections

When you think of the historical collections at the Edward Bellamy House, what comes to mind?  In this blog post, we’ll introduce you to some of the collections that we regularly draw on for information, photos, and exhibit content.

Over the last fifty years, the Edward Bellamy Memorial Association has been collecting and caring for papers, book, photographs, and other items that tell the story of Edward Bellamy’s life and work.  However, while Bellamy is our primary focus, we also have quite a few collections that help document the history of Chicopee more broadly.  Read on for descriptions of just some of what our collections contain.


Postcard of Exchange Street from the Bellamy Local History Collection

Anthony J. Stonina Collection: Consisting primarily of correspondence, this is a collection of papers from Stonina’s three terms as Chicopee’s mayor (1932-1933 and 1936-1939).  Most notable are the materials concerning the construction of the Northeast Army Air Base (now known as Westover Air Reserve Base), but many other topics relating to the operation of the city’s government—and ranging from public works projects to politics and the impact of the Great Depression—are covered as well.

Bellamy Local History Collection: This collection contains images, papers, books, and objects relating to Chicopee’s history, including antique postcards and correspondence of the Taylor and Warner families (neighbors of the Bellamys).1  Also includes newspaper clippings that are organized by subject and date from the first half of the 20th century.

Edward Bellamy Memorial Archives: Papers, memorabilia, and books relating to utopian novelist Edward Bellamy (1850-1898) make up this collection.  It includes original letters written by Bellamy and other members of his immediate family, various editions of his books, and issues from volumes 1 and 2 of the New Nation.  There are also articles about Bellamy, his family, and his influence; books on political and economic theory; and Bellamy family photographs.  A large portion of the collection is correspondence to and from Bellamy’s wife and daughter—Emma Bellamy and Marion Bellamy Earnshaw—and Bellamy admirers from around the world.  These letters were written primarily during the 1930s and 1950s when there was a revival in interest in Looking Backward.

Hanifan Collection: The Hanifan family purchased the house at 91-93 Church Street from the Bellamys.  This collection contains photographs taken at the Hanifan photography studio, images and items that were owned by the Hanifan family, and items owned by the Warner family (neighbors of the Hanifans).

Marion Bellamy Earnshaw Collection: The papers of Marion Bellamy Earnshaw, daughter of Edward Bellamy, primarily consist of correspondence with Bellamy admirers from around the world that was written in the mid-twentieth century.  They also include Earnshaw’s fiction, poetry, and a manuscript containing her memories of her father.

Methodist Church Memorabilia Collection: More commonly known around Chicopee as the “White Church” because of its all-white façade, the church stood on the corner of Broadway and East Street in Chicopee Falls—just down the street from the Bellamy House—until 2007.  This collection primarily consists of photos that document the replacement of the church’s steeple and events such as the 1946 dedication of the clock and the 1971 dedication of the organ.

Richard H. Demers Collection: This collection contains the papers of another of Chicopee’s mayors.  Besides correspondence dating from his terms in office (1966-1969), there are also contemporaneous pages of Chicopee news from the Holyoke Transcript-Telegram, Springfield Daily News, and Springfield Union.  Also included in the collection are papers from Demers’s time as a state representative and materials relating to his interest in Edward Bellamy.

TMSC-03.011_Alvord School Play Cover (2)

Alvord School program from the Thaddeus M. Szetela Collection

Sylvia E. Bowman Collection: This collection comprises the papers and books of Sylvia E. Bowman, a biographer of Edward Bellamy.2  Papers include correspondence and notes used in the writing of The Year 2000, Edward Bellamy Abroad, and Bowman’s dissertation on Bellamy—drafts of which are included as well.  International editions of Looking Backward and Equality are among the books, as are editions of Bellamy’s other published works and numerous books on socialism and economic theory.

Thaddeus M. Szetela Collection: Former Chicopee Historical Commission member and city historian Thaddeus M. Szetela collected these materials relating to Chicopee’s history.  The collection spans Chicopee’s early history to the 1960s, and it include items such as photographs of workers at the Ames Manufacturing Company, antique postcards, newspaper clippings, and Municipal Registers from Chicopee.

Of course, this is just a sample of what we have in our collections.  If you are looking for particular information about Edward Bellamy or the town he lived in, please contact us with your questions!  You can also browse a selection of images in our digital archives from the comfort of your own home.


  1. We’ve featured some of this correspondence in earlier blog posts.  Read more about John Warner’s adventures in the Dakota Territory and Alaska here: and
  2. Read more about how Bowman’s work compares to that of other Bellamy biographers: