Address Highlight: 9 Forest Street

Among the oversize materials in our flat files, the CHC holds architectural drawings and specifications of a house to be built for Lyman A. Belknap in Cambridge.


Front elevation of a home to be built at 9 Forest Street. The house was never constructed.

Mr. Belknap purchased a lot at 9 Forest Street in North Cambridge on March 31, 1871 but despite the elegant mansard design by architect G. F. Meacham, Belknap sold the property later that same year to William Frost, Jr. At this time, the land was still undeveloped. In 1872, Frost built a large, three-story mansard house on the lot for James M. Hilton, who rented the home to tenants.


Architectural survey form for 9 Forest Street.

Residents of 9 Forest Street

In early 1983, a descendant of Edwin Davis Mellen gifted the CHC with several family photographs taken in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many are interior and exterior shots of homes, with a number known to be located in Cambridge. Among the photographs are two taken at 9 Forest Street.

Mellen (1861-1918), an 1884 M.I.T. graduate, was a talented amateur photographer. By profession a chemist, he became a partner in the Cambridge soap manufacturer Curtis, Davis & Co. He and his wife, Adele Jeanne, nee Lods, initially lived on Essex Street, not far from the factory, but in 1892-98 they rented the house at 9 Forest Street. In 1897 the British firm of Lever Brothers purchased an interest in Mellen’s firm, and he built a new home at 1590 Massachusetts Avenue (now demolished). With him were his wife, and a daughter, Lucile Christina.


The Mellen family at 9 Forest Street: Lucile Mellen and an unknown boy sit on tricycles. Adele can be seen sitting on the front steps. The photograph was taken by Edwin, ca. 1893-1898.


An unknown boy, Lucile Mellen, and an unknown girl on the steps of 9 Forest Street, ca. 1893-1898.

This house was also once the home of Dr. Lucy A. “Sleeping Lucy” Cooke. Lucy’s foresight and restorative powers appeared when she was a young girl in Vermont. Lucy honed her talents and was known in her time as a psychic healer. Although she had no formal medical training, patients called her Dr. Cooke, and she was said to invent prescriptions and even heal broken bones, all while under a trance or hypnosis. Lucy also ran a mail-order prescription business. In addition to her medical talents, Lucy aided police with unsolved cases and helped discover missing items while in state of trance.


Portrait of Lucy Cooke (b. 1819 – d. 1895) by an unknown artist. Oil on canvas, c. 1850. Vermont Historical Society. In 1916 Lucy’s husband bequeathed $1,000 and the portrait to Mount Auburn Hospital on the condition that it be hung in a public area. The hospital declined the bequest, and it went to the Montpelier Public Library instead.

Lucy moved to Boston in 1876 with her secretary and soon-to-be second husband, Everett W. Raddin. In June of 1887, she purchased the three-story mansard home at 9 Forest Street. In 1891 Mr. Raddin converted the carriage house to a residence (at left in the photo above), and it is likely that the couple moved there so they could rent out the main house. Lucy ran her practice at this address, and continued to live there until she died in 1895 at age 76.


Article on “Sleeping Lucy” from 1966.

Lucy’s talents were said to be known worldwide, and many clients would line up outside her door for consultation and cures. One of Lucy’s most famous clients was Mary Baker Eddy, known as the founder of Christian Science. Lucy treated Mrs. Eddy and her children while living in Cavendish, Vermont. Both women are buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery.


Forest St 9 DSC_1027

9 Forest Street in 2009.

Today, the large house sits on the corner of Forest Street and Newport Road, and looks much as it did in the late nineteenth century. Many more photographs exist in the collection donated by the Mellens, with detailed home interiors and the family engaged in activities of the day. This collection is open for research on-site at the Cambridge Historical Commission.



9 Forest Street. Architectural survey files, Cambridge Historical Commission.

Curtis Mellen Photograph Collection, Cambridge Historical Commission.

“Funeral of Dr. Lucy Cooke.” The Cambridge Chronicle, June 1, 1895.——-en-20–1–txt-txIN——-.

“Lucy Ainsworth Cooke.” Vermont Historical Society. Accessed August 08, 2017.

Milmine, Georgine. The Life of Mary Baker Eddy and the History of Christian Science. New York: Doubleday, 1909.


Cambridge Open Archives 2017

This post is well overdue, but before the summer officially winds down (!), we wanted to share some photographs from this year’s Cambridge Open Archives event, which took place June 19-22.

This year, seven archives, special collections, and collecting institutions in Cambridge opened their doors to the public to showcase some of their most interesting materials.  The theme this year was “Living and Dying in Cambridge.”

Check out a brief slideshow below of some highlights from this year’s archives tours. Photos courtesy of attendees and archivists.

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A huge thanks to this year’s participants and their fabulous archivists, curators, librarians and staff:

Mount Auburn Cemetery, The Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology at Harvard University, the Harvard Semitic Museum, Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters, The Cambridge Historical Society, the Cambridge Room at the Cambridge Public Library, and the Harvard Art Museums Archives.

Next year marks the 10th anniversary of Cambridge Open Archives, so stay tuned for updates on what we’ll be planning!

CHC Research Library Catalog Progress

In addition to our archival collections, the CHC is home to a research library containing over 1000 volumes pertaining to Cambridge history, architecture, and residents. While plenty of these books are widely held in other libraries, many are rare volumes not found elsewhere. To increase the usability and accessibility of our collection, both for CHC staff and outside researchers, archives assistant Emily has spent the last several months creating a library catalog. This catalog will eventually be available online through an open source online catalog platform called TinyCat, so stay tuned for the announcement and read on to learn about Emily’s progress.


Part of the CHC Research Library collection.

This project started with a spreadsheet.

Several years ago, a previous CHC archivist started adding books to this spreadsheet. She included fields for the basic bibliographic data needed to identify a book: title, author, publisher, date of publication, etc. However, she left the CHC before this spreadsheet was complete. I took over the project in February, checking the list against the volumes on the shelves of the library, correcting or adding information as necessary, and adding volumes that had been added to the shelves in the period after the previous archivist left and before I started.

The spreadsheet has evolved since then. I added and removed fields, changed classification systems, added call numbers, removed call numbers, added subject headings, removed subject headings, changed collection headings, and color coded EVERYTHING. It’s a work in progress.

Currently, I am almost finished assigning call numbers to every volume on our shelves. (Many more will be added later, but one step at a time.) When this step is finished, it will be time for the Great Reorganization, an all-hands-on-deck event when we will be removing everything from the stacks and reordering the collection by call number. We will be making flags to place in each volume (all 1,000+!) so users can find what they’re looking for. And every volume will be added to our online catalog, available for anyone to use, from anywhere in the world. As an archivist committed to making all information as freely accessible as possible, I am really excited for this thing to go live.


Our front-facing online catalog. I’ve added a few volumes already to test it out. The book covers scroll by as a sort of slide show of the collection. It’s pretty neat.

*An Ode to Online Catalogs and the Library of Congress Classification System PDFs*

Many of the call numbers I’ve assigned to each volume were found in other online catalogs. The Library of Congress holds millions of volumes and must employ hordes of catalogers, so they are the definitive source for LC classification standards. WorldCat is a “global catalog of library collections” through which one can search the online catalogs of universities, public libraries, and archival collections all around the world. These sources were invaluable to me in this process. However, some of our materials are so rare they can’t be found in any other catalog. Many others were arranged in a way that didn’t make sense for our collection. For these items, I created call numbers from scratch using the Library of Congress classification schedules, basically guides to the LC Classification System, available as PDFs, that include almost any possible classification.


In the search results page, you can see the call numbers for the volumes I’ve already added. F74.C1 is the basic classification for anything about the history of Cambridge.

Are you as excited about all of this as I am? Do you want to know more about the Library of Congress Classification System and why it is vastly superior to the Dewey Decimal System? Let us know in the comments!

Still Making History

In the archives field, we are often charged with describing, cataloging, and preserving memories in their physical form. A key first step is actually acquiring historic items and collections that can speak volumes about the past.


Our flyer requesting historic photographs


In 1980 the CHC initiated a project to document photograph collections in private hands. The Polaroid Foundation donated a copy stand, a camera, and cases of 4×5 instant film that also made high-quality negatives. The flyer, pictured above, was sent out with utility bills and generated hundreds or responses.

The staff had copied about 2,000 images when the CHC published A Photographic History of Cambridge in 1984. Donations, which included including the corporate collections of the Cambridge Electric and Gas companies and the Cambridgeport Savings Bank and many, many scrapbooks, slowly tapered off, but the recent donation of this photo shows that the simple flyer of 1980 continues to bear fruit.


Our appeal – “Don’t let our history fade away.”

A family residing in Buzzards Bay discovered our flyer while going through the papers of their mother, Julie Ferguson.


Sally Howes as a nursing student weighing “Baby Hope” in 1926.

Along with the flyer, the family included this photograph featuring nursing student, Sally Howes.



Program for graduation exercises at the Cambridge Training School for Nurses, 1927. Sally Howes is the second graduate listed.

Ms. Howes is listed as a graduate of the Cambridge Training School for Nurses class of 1927. It is possible that she was a family friend or acquaintance of the donor’s mother.


Verso of the program featuring the Florence Nightingale Pledge.

These materials will soon be available for research. We are open for research Mon: 4:00-7:00PM and Tue-Thur: 9:30-11:30AM & 2:00-4:00PM. Contact us today for an appointment!

Preservation at CHC

Recently, the staff here at the Commission performed some summer cleaning in our archives and library storage. After relocating a few boxes, our archives assistants assessed the physical states of some of the materials. Among the collections were a collection of Civil War memorabilia, photographs, an oversize atlas, documents, and an oversize volume of architectural plans.

Many of the items had already been stabilized and were properly housed. Others were in need of repairs or other types of preservation. Two items were in need of immediate preservation work: a volume of architectural plans and a photograph.

The architectural plans are bound in a volume measuring around 24 x 20 inches. This volume represents personal collection of plans of an engineer at the Cambridge Water Board, and the plans date ca. 1860s-1870s.

Our digitization assistant, Meta, dry-cleaned the area, and repaired the tear using Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste.



Before the tear is repaired


Wheat starch paste


Weighting the pasted tissue until dry


After the tissue has dried


Trimming the excess


The final product

The photograph, titled “Survivors of the First Company Raised in the United States for Suppression of the Rebellion” comes from the George H. Hastings Civil War Memorabilia Collection and was taken ca. 1880.

The photograph had been held to a mat frame with adhesive. Glues manufactured during this era were often made from animal products and rubber. These products are now known to congeal and harden over time.


Emily removing hardened adhesive from the back of a photograph

Our archives assistant, Emily, carefully removed the hardened glue from the verso of the photograph with a micro-spatula, thus protecting this photograph from any chemical or physical damage.

In the archives field, professionals and students are always working hard to provide access to our materials, both physically and digitally. Our work here at the Cambridge Historical Commission is no different.

New Finding Aids Available!

The Commission has recently finished conducting inventories on a few of our smaller collections, and the corresponding finding aids for each are now available. Scroll down to read descriptions and view a selection of images from the following collections: Hovey Family Records, Signet Hosiery Company Collection, Squirrel Brand Company Collection, Cambridge Historical Commission Objects Collection, and The Riverside Press Collection.

Hovey Family Records

The Hovey Family Records are a collection of documents, booklets, and photographs which once belonged to the Hovey Family of Cambridge. In 1997, the bulk of the collection was found in a house in Worcester, MA by Shirley Piermarini and these items were donated to the CHC that same year. In 2001, Ms. Piermarini donated five Hovey family photographs. View the finding aid here.


Photograph portrait of a young girl in the Hovey family, taken in 1871.



Caption: Susan A. Hovey’s autograph book, 1876

Signet Hosiery Company collection

In 1926, the Signet Hosiery Company began moving into the newly-expanded Kendall Square Building located at 238 Main Street in Cambridge. Signet and its president William H. Doty encouraged customers to form their own Signet Clubs with their friends and relatives. Weekly membership dues of $1 entitled you to a subscription for hosiery and lingerie at discount prices.


Membership book for the Signet Hosiery Company, 1926

This collection contains materials from the 1920s-1930s, and includes documents relating to Signet Hosiery Company club membership along with a Signet Hosiery Company hosiery box. View the finding aid here.


Signet Hosiery Company hosiery box measuring 3 x 6.75 x 9.5”, c. 1920s-1930s

Squirrel Brand Company collection

The Squirrel Brand candy company started in 1890 in Roxbury, but had a presence in Cambridge beginning in 1915. Their focus was on manufacturing nut-based candies, such as roasted nuts and nougats. Their most popular product was made of caramel, vanilla, and nut taffy called the “Squirrel Nut Zipper.” Squirrel Brand moved to Texas after being purchased by Southern Style Nuts in 1999. The New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) purchased the license for Squirrel Brand from Southern Style in 2004, officially bringing the long-loved company back to Massachusetts.

Squirrel Brand adv card IMG_20151222_113527

Cardboard advertisement to “Eat Squirrel Brand Butter Chews,” c. 1940s.

This collection includes advertising materials manufactured for the Squirrel Brand Company, c. 1910-1940, and one copy of a document relating the history of the company from “The History of Candy Making in Cambridge” by the Cambridge Historical Society. View the finding aid here.


Tin container for Squirrel Brand Salted Mixed Nuts, c. 1930s.

Cambridge Historical Commission Objects collection

This collection is composed of objects relating to various aspects of Cambridge history, c. 1890s-1980s. Within the collection are vases, pins, buttons, and badges. View the finding aid here.


Longfellow Home Vase, glazed ceramic, made in Germany, 5.25” in height, no date


Cambridge 50th Anniversary Souvenir Pin, 1896

The Riverside Press collection

The Riverside Press started in Boston as a book-printing factory that began in 1852. Later, Henry Houghton began The Riverside Press along the Charles River in Cambridge.


Photograph of the Riverside Press building, c. 1910

The Riverside Press collection contains photographic materials related to The Riverside Press. Subjects include architectural views of The Riverside Press buildings, interior views, machinery, and construction views, c. 1890s-1950s. View the finding aid here.


Photograph of the first automatic fed cylinder press at Riverside, c. 1910

Currently, these findings aids are only available in paper format at the Commission. To view the finding aids for these collections, or to schedule an appointment for in-person research, please contact the Cambridge Historical Commission today at 617.349.4683 or e-mail our Archivist, Emily at

Frederick Hastings Rindge Collection

In the late 1990s, Ronald R. Rindge donated a collection of materials that had belonged to his grandfather, the philanthropist Frederick Hastings Rindge (1857-1905). Earlier this month, Frederick Hastings Rindge’s great-great-granddaughter, Melissa Rindge, came to visit the commission. CHC Executive Director Charles Sullivan showed Melissa a selection of Rindge items. This collection is comprised of materials relating to the Rindge family’s business interests in New England and Frederick Hastings Rindge’s donations to the city of Cambridge, including the Cambridge Public Library (1887), Cambridge Manual Training School (1888), and City Hall (1889).


Charlie showing Melissa the Cambridge Manual Training School Yearbook from the class of 1897.

Born to a wealthy textile merchant family in Cambridge, Massachusetts on December 21, 1857, Frederick Hastings Ridge grew up to become a successful businessman. Rindge was privately tutored before continuing his education at Harvard. The passing of his parents in the late 1880s left him with an inherited estate of approximately 2 million dollars.


Portrait of Frederick Hastings Rindge from his book Happy Days in Southern California.

The Cambridge Historical Commission is proud to house the Frederick Hastings Rindge Collection, which contains materials from 1852-2001. Included are correspondence, photographs, financial records, family papers, and architectural drawings, among other items.


Ledger page detailing real estate and property inventory, 1 July 1893.

Rindge’s business interests in New England comprised a number of textile mills and manufacturing companies and he owned a large number of real estate properties, mostly inherited from his father. Many of our records represent the family business as well as Rindge’s philanthropic efforts.


Photograph of Monadnock Mills, located in Claremont, New Hampshire c. 1890s.


Monadnock Mills comparison financial statement, 31 May and 30 November 1897. Francis J. Parker was one of Frederick Hastings Rindge’s business managers.


Happy Days in Southern California was published in 1898. The book begins with a history of this region and follows with descriptions of animals, flora, and scenery.

In 1888 Rindge relocated to California, where he purchased large tracts in Los Angeles and a 17,000-acre Spanish land grant north of Santa Monica that is now occupied by the town of Malibu. Between 1888 and 1890, Rindge’s old schoolmate, William E. Russell, then Mayor of Cambridge, urged him to fund the construction of a number of projects in Cambridge, including the Cambridge Manual Training School (later renamed the Rindge Manual Training School and now the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School). Rindge hired the architects, superintended the construction, hired the faculty, reviewed applications from students, and supported the school for five years before turning it over to the city. Because Rindge was living in California, all these matters were the subject of extensive correspondence with his agents in Boston.


Rindge Manual Training School Register, March 1903.


Photograph of the Rindge Manual Training School baseball team, 1925.

Many records held in the collection relate to the Cambridge Manual Training School and Camp Rindge, a summer camp program for the CMTS students at Lake Winnipesaukee, NH.


A tent erected at Camp Rindge, c. 1893.

This collection is open for viewing and research at the Cambridge Historical Commission. Stop by during our research hours: Monday: 4:00-7:00PM, and Tuesday/Thursday: 9:30-11:30AM and 2:00-4:00PM, or feel free to call and make an appointment with our archivist!

New! Boston Globe Donation

Last week, we received a special visit from Richard Pennington, a former librarian for the Boston Globe. Mr. Pennington and Lisa Tuite, the Globe’s Head of Library, donated seven boxes of newspaper clippings from the Globe’s newspaper clipping morgue. The clippings date from 1900 to around 1977 (with some from the 1980s) and include interesting news stories and information pertaining to Cambridge. The stories come not only from the Boston Globe, but from other newspapers and publications, including the Boston Herald and the Transcript.


The newspaper clippings are arranged by subject, and they run the gamut of topics related to Cambridge history: from specific Cambridge buildings (of particular interest to the Commission), to local politics, to schools, historic riots, and Cambridge businesses.


According to Pennington, “The Globe was clipped from around 1900 until it went electronic in 1977 – it was  the first newspaper to store its content in a computer for retrieval.” The content of the clipped, indexed and filed newspaper clippings often depended on the preference of the librarian at the time.  Pennington also added that, “The city desk also had a decades-long policy of sending ephemera to the library to be added to the clipping files, and this included small photographs. Occasionally odd book chapters and magazine articles were added to the files.”


Pennington helped with the recent and ongoing transition of the Boston Globe Library’s collections to new institutions, as the Globe relocates from their Morrissey Boulevard location back to downtown Boston. Pennington was assistant librarian at the Globe when he left in 2007. The large majority of the Boston Globe clippings collection was transferred to Northeastern University — however, the Cambridge Historical Commission was fortunate enough to receive a great portion of this collection for our research files.

The newspaper clippings will be processed, cross-indexed with our architectural inventory files, and a finding aid will be created for researchers. The collection is currently not open for research.




The Archivists’ Corner: Getting to know your CHC archives staff, Part 2

This month, we are highlighting our fabulous archives staff here at the CHC.  Our part-time archives assistants, interns and volunteers do it all — from processing collections and writing finding aids, to cataloging the research library, taking care of fragile objects and collections materials, and promoting it all on social media.

Our second staff post features Meta Partenheimer, Digitization Assistant.

Hi, my name is Meta, and I work at the Cambridge Historical Commission as a Digitization Assistant. Before beginning my work, I started at the CHC through an internship while taking a course at Simmons, and came back to volunteer over the winter break.


Meta with the survey files!


A quick snapshot of the stacks I took last fall during a tour at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

I grew up in a small town in east-central Illinois, and attended college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While attaining my undergraduate degree in art history, I recognized that I loved spending time browsing the stacks and researching, and wanted to facilitate that experience for others.

After school, I moved to Oklahoma City where I worked for The American Pigeon Museum & Library, and the Oklahoma Historical Society. Working at these institutions helped me realize I wanted to become an archivist, and I decided to apply to the Master of Library and Information Science program at Simmons. Currently, I am halfway through my work towards an MLIS with an archives concentration. In addition to working at the CHC, I also intern at the John F. Kennedy Library.


A collection of racing homer photographs from The American Pigeon Museum.

My dream job would be professional beer tester—but I think more realistically I would love to work as an archivist with the Archives of American Art in Washington, DC. When I’m not archiving or catching up on homework, you can probably find me listening to a true-crime podcast, going to the gym, or catching up on my favorite British drama shows.

Fun facts about me:

  • My first paying job was detasseling corn the summer before I turned thirteen.
  • I have a cat named Winslow

Winslow at Christmastime on the farm in Illinois.

  • I am an avid fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder

My first OKC Thunder game vs. the Milwaukee Bucks.

One of the strangest things I’ve discovered during my archival career was with the Manuscripts department at OHS. One summer, we were charged with collecting and preserving items from the State Capitol Publishing Museum, which had been closed for a number of years. While recovering a drawer of documents, I came across a small mummified mouse which my colleagues and I dubbed “Frontier Mouse.”


Each drawer on this wall held a blank book of forms for orders, permits, and other paperwork. I found “Frontier Mouse” in the top row.

So far, my favorite archival find at the CHC is a collection of cyanotypes that were taken during the construction of the subway system in Boston, Cambridge, and surrounding areas.


Cyanotype titled “Kendall Sq. Station” from the Boston Elevated Railway (BERy) Collection, dated 28 March 1910.

Currently, I am working on digitizing our architectural survey files, processing collections, and creating posts on CHC social media.


The Archivists’ Corner: Get to know your CHC archives staff

This month, we are highlighting our fabulous archives staff here at the CHC.  Our part-time archives assistants, interns and volunteers do it all — from processing collections and writing finding aids, to cataloging the research library, taking care of fragile objects and collections materials, and promoting it all on social media.

Our first staff post features Emily Magagnosc, Archives Assistant.

Emily grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs. Her mom is a librarian and her grandma volunteered in her local public library, so clearly Emily was destined to go into libraries. She went to undergrad at Smith College in Northampton, MA, and while there she worked in the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Museum and Library, which was the best job she’d ever had and led her to apply to the Graduate School of Library Science at Simmons College. She just finished her first year there and is very excited about all of her classes.


Emily in her library cataloging corner.

Emily lives with three roommates and three cats in Brighton. The most interesting thing she has found on the job is a collection of recorded (written) confessions from the early days of the church in Northampton. When she is not archiving, she is watching Parks and Recreation on repeat, listening to loud punk music, knitting, doing inappropriate embroidery, reading,  and petting her cat, Russell.


Sushi Russell.


Russell Pt. 2.

Emily is working on cataloging the research library at the CHC. She also recently designed posters for the 2017 Cambridge Open Archives, writes blog and Instagram posts, and gets overly excited about the cool stuff in the archive. Her dream job is working in a women’s history collection like the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith or the Schlesinger Library at Harvard.


A print from the William Galvin Collection, one of many architectural drawings and designs that Emily cataloged and photographed over the past several months.