Academic journal article Historical Journal of Massachusetts

Springfield (Postcard History Series)

Academic journal article Historical Journal of Massachusetts

Springfield (Postcard History Series)

Article excerpt

Springfield (Postcard History Series). By G. Michael Dobbs. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2008. 127 pages. $19.99 (paperback).

Arcadia Publishing is known for its extensive line of local history photography publications. Springfield is part of the Postcard History Series, which focuses exclusively on old postcards. A brief introductory essay outlines some of the high points of Springfield's history, from the founding of the settlement by William Pynchon to the present day. Numerous famous residents are also briefly profiled, including Springfield's most famous son, Theodore Geisel, and one of her most infamous, Timothy Leary.

The bulk of the book consists of 180 postcards. Many of the postcards feature the landmarks of Springfield, such as Forest Park, Court Square and other important municipal buildings. Others focus on important businesses, such as the Smith and Wesson plant, the Springfield Armory and the Indian Motorcycle factory. Like the Images of America series, each postcard is accompanied by a short caption.

The captions, while informative, are too short to add up to anything of substance. There is no attempt at interpretation or placing the postcards into any sort of historical context. While current or former area residents (myself included) will enjoy seeing familiar buildings, some gone, others not, without any kind of contextual support, Springfield is little more than a collection of old postcards. This is particularly unfortunate because some of Springfield's best history is left out as a result.

An excellent example is the postcard featuring the Bosch Magneto Company. Bosch was a well-known and long-time employer in the city. Opened in 1910, it was in operation until 1986, when the plant's operations were moved to another state. The building itself, situated along the border of Springfield and Chicopee, was destroyed by arson in 2004. This information, all from the caption, is somewhat interesting, but the reader would be better served by being told the real story behind the Bosch plant. …

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