Unravel the Gavel: August 23-September 12, 2002

"Come Collect With Me" by Scott E. Green

[Unfortunately, Unravel the Gavel printed a rough draft and not what was supposed to be the final copy, and there were numerous mistakes. This is the article as it should have been printed.]

She is a loyal daughter of her Alma Mater

Usually, when I meet college collectors they generally focus on one or two things. They are either sports collectors with a mad passion for Notre Dame football or UCLA basket ball or some other college with nationally ranked sports team. The other broad category are those who collect china from college services. However, Donna Albino does not fall into either of these two categories.

Her focus on college collecting is Mount Holyoke College and her passion is ephemera (photos, postcards, letters, college publications, scrapbooks, diaries). Of course she is a 1983 graduate of Mount Holyoke College.

"It was in 1985 when I was antique hunting in a local antique store. There I found a very charming postcard of a scene of Mount Holyoke which I bought. However, that was not the beginning of my serious collecting in this area. A few years later I was at a flea market and I found a set of 28 Mount Holyoke postcards. It was then and there that I became a serious collector of Mount Holyoke ephemera," Donna said.

Donna's focus has always been on ephemera. She has little use for china or sports trophies or any other large object because she really doesn't have the desire to spend time dusting them. Much of her collection consists of correspondence of important Mount Holyoke graduates including famed suffragette, Lucy Stone. This is a very important part of her collection because many Mount Holyoke graduates became college presidents and other leaders in the community. This means that she is in competition with other collectors of educational, missionary, and feminist ephemera. "I try to put the contents of all my letters and postcards on the Web so that researchers will be able to find them," she said.

An interesting side light for her collection among Mount Holyoke journals comes from several 1850s autograph albums. Several Mount Holyoke graduates who were going on missionary work signed their pages in English and also in the language of the country they were going to.

"For me one of the pleasures of collecting is doing the research to find out what exactly went on in the events that a correspondent wrote about. This is the basis of my book for Arcadia Publishing, MOUNT HOLYOKE COLLEGE. I take the contents of 215 postcards and research out the events described in those postcards as well as some personal information about the writer. For example, there is one student who sent a postcard to her parents worrying about her grades and it turned out she was a Phi Beta Kappa honor student!" Donna laughed.

For her, eBay has been an important source of material. In addition she does occasionally pick up ephemera from other women's colleges. However, this is primarily to acquire material so she can swap it for Mount Holyoke items with other collectors of college ephemera. She is also an avid collector of vintage fiction for girls, and she has filled a bookcase 8' x 8' with many girl's series books such as Nancy Drew titles. Her collection of girls college fiction includes a book by a Mount Holyoke alumna that was set at the College in 1905. Although it was fiction, it very accurately described college life at Mount Holyoke during that time.

Donna Albino can be reached at 455 Belmont St., East Bridgewater, MA 02333, dalbino@mtholyoke.edu. Many items from her collection are available for viewing on the Web at < http://www.mtholyoke.edu/~dalbino >. Signed copies of her Arcadia book are available from her directly for $25 postpaid.

[Mary Lyon]

Scott Green is a freelance reporter based out of Manchester, NH and writes for a number of publications throughout the US. He is an avid collector in a number of areas, including science fiction. If you are a collector - we don't care of what - our readers would love to learn about you and your area of expertise.

You can contact Scott Green directly at 603-623-9796 or write the Gavel at 14 Hurricane Road #1, Belmont, NH 03220.