My name is Joe Bieniecki.
As someone who enjoys tinkering with electronics and machinery I often visit flea markets and yard sales. In the mid-90’s I found a postcard of the house I was living in on Bank Street in Attleboro in a box of random postcards. Since that day I always kept an eye out for Attleboro items.
In the intervening 25 years I have grown the collection to well over 100,000 items. In that total is now a staggering amount of postcards, by best estimates some 30,000+ cards. Many of those are duplicates of various condition but there are at least 3,200 unique editions and views. Amazingly, I still find cards that I have not seen before once or twice a year. All of my collection is Attleboro based, I do not collect North Attleborough items, I had to draw the line someplace.
In 1999 I had become a computer enthusiast and was learning the technology quickly. Building a site to share the fast growing collection was an easy decision. On the 4th of July, 2000 I flipped the switch. Originally named AttleboroToday, I had thought about making it an online meeting place to host community calendars and current events as well as the historic content.
Almost immediately the site was very popular and I tried to expand and improve it almost daily. Things began to move quickly at this time :
- May of 2001 I received a Historic Preservation Award from the Attleboro Historical Commission
- I took a position on the Board of Directors of the Attleboro Historic Preservation Society.
- The Sun Chronicle did a couple of features on me and the site.
The word of mouth and the exposure from the newspaper article made the site very popular. In addition local history teachers began referring students to the site as well. Traffic shot up and in the next few years hosting the site became expensive due to the large volume of high resolution images. At this time in internet business hosting companies had a bandwidth cap and charged per megabyte for overages. I redesigned the site to lighten the bandwidth issue and things were OK for awhile.
In 2007 I became a member of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners to learn how to professionally curate a large collection I also began the certification process to be registered as a documented researcher with access to the Massachusetts State Archives. All of this to assist in preserving and curating the Attleboro Historic collection.
In 2009 server issues and a change in hosting left the site in a pretty poor state. At the same time circumstances were that I could not dedicate the time to the site as I had done previously. Several half renovations took place over the next few years but none had the amount of content or gave me the sense of satisfaction that the original had provided.
In 2011 a large portion of the collection was cataloged and moved to a professionally managed, climate controlled, fireproof storage facility specializing in major museum quality artwork, historic documents and fragile exhibits. This includes all of our rarest and most valuable items. 17th and 18th century maps and manuscripts, books, photographs and glass slides and the majority of the postcard collection.
Now retired, I once again can dedicate some time to this site. In addition I have my own servers so that no amount of traffic can put the site at risk. The need to make the site available on smaller screens and my need to get my head around what is posted and what is not means a complete rebuild. This time it will be larger than the original and hopefully more popular.
I hope to have all of the images posted over the winter of 21-22, all of the corroborating text and descriptions should be up later in the summer. Additional content including historic 8mm movies and such will be coming soon after.
Thank you to everyone who has visited, folks who have generously let us post their items (with attribution) and to those who have donated hundreds items outright to us.