Nelson Dionne, collector of Salem memorabilia won a top prize from Historic New England in 2013. He won the Prize for Collecting Works on Paper.
Dionne collects old postcards, photos, magazines, newspaper articles, pamphlets and books. His collection is all about Salem, mostly post-Civil War. It focuses heavily on businesses, shops, railroads and industry from the late 19th century to today.
Some of his unique items: matchbook cover from Follett's Men's Store on Essex Street; a menu from Swenbeck's restaurant, a bill from Battis & Brown, a cigar manufacturer on Front Street.
Dionne's collection, considered priceless, was turned over to Salem State University library in 2013. He gave other material to be used for the Salem Museum in Old Town Hall.
According to Susan Edwards of Salem State University, "The Nelson Dionne Collection is a rich source of material on the history of Salem. The collection focuses on the 19th-century to the present, with an emphasis on ethnic groups, business, travel and tourism, transportation, religious and social organizations, and the built environment. Included in the collection are books, photographs and postcards, stereographs, organization and business records, trade publications, and a wide variety of ephemera. The collection is open to the public and is currently being used for scholarly projects, student and faculty work, and digital exhibits. The Archives and Special Collections is planning to scan much of the material and make it available on the Internet for all to use."
In 2014, Nelson launched "Salem's Forgotten Stories," a series of books focusing on a particular subject in Salem history using information and images from his collection. His first title in the series is called Coast Guard Air Station Salem, 1935-1970
Treasures from the past Nelson Dionne wins top prize, Salem News, April 26, 2013
Salem Jerome M. Curley and Nelson Dionne
Salem's forgotten stories Nelson Dionne