Yvonne and Richard Tracy show Tim Coco, president of the Trustees of the John Greenleaf Whittier Homestead, a collection of more than 325 postcards featuring the birthplace.
Visitors to Whittier Birthplace this spring will have yet another way to examine the history of the 329-year-old home once occupied by famed poet John Greenleaf Whittier.
An unusual and unique collection of more than 325 vintage postcards featuring the farmhouse and property was donated this week to trustees by longtime Haverhill residents Richard K. and Yvonne H. Tracy. Although representing an important part of his collection, Richard Tracy said he doesn’t see his family as owning the history.
“Well, I always thought you were just a caretaker for stuff so I thought I would donate some of these to the specific entities like Whittier trustees I knew would like this,” he explained.
Tracy, a former Haverhill license commissioner now residing in Kingston, N.H., said he wished to part with the postcards while he is living. He worried someone else might discard them some day. Over the years, the Tracys have amassed tens of thousands of cards.
“I collected postcards for like 40 years and I have cards from all over the world. But, specifically since I grew up in Haverhill, I put 10 albums of cards together in different formats.”
Yvonne Tracy said while she was supportive of her husband’s hobby, she also became an enthusiast in her own right. Some parts of the collection, however, are more important to her than others.
“Whittier is kind of a little bit closer to my heart,” she said.
Whittier Birthplace was built in 1688 by Whittier’s ancestor, Thomas Whittier. The poet and later slavery opponent was born there Dec. 17, 1807 and he stayed until 1836 when he moved to Amesbury. The Birthplace formally opened to the public in 1893 after former Mayor James H. Carleton purchased the property and presented it to the Haverhill Whittier Club.
The Trustees of the John Greenleaf Whittier Homestead is honoring the donation with a plaque at the Birthplace and will make the cards available for public viewing when the museum opens for the season Friday, April 28.
The Tracys were also presented with a lifetime membership to the Haverhill Whittier Club.