Two of the three collections in the new Chicopee Public Library’s Chicopee Archives Online, 427 records in total, have been harvested into the Digital Commonwealth’s Omeka repository: Chicopee Weekly Journal and Soldiers Record.

Amber Clooney, Electronic Reference Services Librarian at Chicopee Public Library, provided the following information about the archive’s collections and future plans:

Chicopee Archives Online was developed to enhance access to some of the city’s unique historical items. The site was initially developed to host the Soldiers Record, which is a handwritten ledger that contains the personal stories of over 500 local men who served in the Civil War. The stories contained in the Soldiers Record seem to be primarily based on interviews with the soldiers themselves, or based on contemporary records and accounts from friends and relatives if a particular soldier died during the war.

According to an article in New England Magazine from 1898, most of the records were compiled by George Dexter Robinson, who lived in Chicopee after the Civil War, before he became Governor of Massachusetts (Robinson is also famous for being Lizzie Borden’s defense attorney). Transcription of each page is an ongoing volunteer project. There is a full description of the Soldiers Record here:

In addition to the Soldiers Record, the site includes scanned copies of a partial run of the Chicopee Weekly Journal from the mid 1860s; and a year long run of The Olive Leaf from 1849, a literary newspaper for local factory girls.

In near future, we will be adding scans of the local City Directories. The Directories are the most used items in the local history room, and are showing a lot of wear and tear as a result. When the Directories are added to the site, patrons will be directed to use the digital copies so the print copies can be preserved. We also plan to add a photo collection from the 1920s , and we hope to add some items from the collections of the Chicopee Historical Society.

For further questions, contact Amber Clooney at Chicopee Public Library.

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