Albert R. Holden Collection

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Collection Facts


Historical Context

Albert R. Holden (1914 - 2002) made a name for himself in Montauk as the publisher of three editions of the Pictorial History of Montauk and eight separate Montauk Almanacs.  The first Almanac appeared in 1977; the others followed in various years up to 1992.  Each booklet was filled with entertaining information about community organizations, landmarks, events, and people.  Now, years later, these almanacs function as an important research tool for information about Montauk through the 1970s and 1980s.  

Al's wife Vera Holden was quoted in the East Hampton Star as saying that right after her husband's retirement in the 1970s, he noticed there were no current books about Montauk.  As he worked to fill this gap over the ensuing years, people contributed photographs for his publications. Those photographs were donated to the Montauk Library by Vera Holden, and now make up one of the most important collections in the Montauk Library.

Al Holden was born in 1914 in Connecticut.  Five years later, his family moved to New York City, where he graduated from the High School of Commerce.  He immediately joined the typographical union, and apprenticed with a printer. After a while he became a Linotype operator and joined Basso Printing.  Even after becoming a partner of that firm in 1961, Al worked as a nighttime Linotype operator at The New York Times.  An accomplished athlete, Holden was on the Times bowling team and later on, threw strikes and spares for the team representing Gurney's Inn in Montauk.  

Al and his wife Vera took their family on vacation to Montauk in 1964, ultimately buying a Leisurama home in Culloden Shores.  After retiring from Basso Printing at age 65, Holden immersed himself full-time in the Montauk community, championing the virtues of the Village as a member of the Chamber of Commerce.  In addition to starting Holden Publications, he became the voice of a popular Montauk radio program on WLNG, interviewing local residents in the belief that his radio shows would bring more tourists to Montauk. (These on-air conversations were later converted into interviews for his Almanacs.)  Holden’s enthusiasm for Montauk can be seen in the photo accompanying this entry (Al Holden is the last person on the right).  

Throughout his life his energy was boundless, but finally, at the age of 88, "he just wore out," said his wife in his East Hampton Star obituary. Holden loved Montauk and worked hard as a publisher and radio announcer to put it on the map for the rest of the world to enjoy.  "He was a ball of energy," who lived a "full and caring life," said Vera. Part of that caring was the careful accumulation of hundreds of photographs relating to life in Montauk.  The Al Holden Collection is one of the strongest in the Montauk Library's Archives.

Scope of Collection

The collection holds about 500 photographs of Montauk, collected by Holden for his publications relating to Montauk and its history.  This collection is categorized according to subject matter, i.e., divided into commercial establishments, community buildings, military, lighthouse, fishing, landscapes, natural disasters, homes, aerials, and events.  The expanse is wide, and many people, now gone, appear in these photographs.