May is Preservation Month, and over the next few weeks we will be posting about a couple of preservation-related archival projects that we are working on over here at the Commission.
Here at the Cambridge Historical Commission, our holdings are centered on the built environment of the city, with strong collections on the social, business, and industrial history of Cambridge. Formats include photographs, manuscripts, architectural plans, and books, among other mediums. The most valuable intellectual asset of the Commission is our collection of architectural survey files, documenting the history of every building (over 13,000) in Cambridge.
As our largest collection, the architectural survey files contain architectural survey forms, photographs, news clippings, and like materials for buildings in Cambridge.
Each file holds documents on every current building in Cambridge as well as records of many demolished buildings. An address may contain one sheet or boast an entire file folder depending on its history in the community.
These files are used quite frequently by architects, building managers, or homeowners, and are open for research.
As these files currently exist only in physical format, a patron must perform any research with our survey files in-person. The Commission is currently embarking on a pilot digitization project to improve access. This project will facilitate the creation of a searchable and browsable database, which will allow us to upload and share our survey files online.
Please feel free to contact the Cambridge Historical Commission to explore the history of your property. Our research hours are Mondays 4:00-7:00pm, and Tuesday through Thursday 9:30-11:30am and 2:00-4:00pm. Check our blog often for updates on our other projects, and for news on when our digital files will be accessible!