Dr. Charles E. Vaughan and Radcliffe Yard

The CHC recently opened a small but significant group of materials: the Dr. Charles E. Vaughan Collection.

Charles Everett Vaughan was born into the prominent Vaughan family of Hallowell, Maine on August 24, 1835. By the time he was 15, Charles and his family had relocated to Cambridge. His father, also named Charles, worked as a brush dealer for J. J. Adams & Co. in Boston. Below are two of the company’s advertisements from 1922.

The Vaughans were descended from British merchant and Jamaican plantation owner Samuel Vaughan and his wife, Sarah Hallowell. Charles E.’s grandfather Charles was one of the first settlers of this historic Maine town. His great-uncle Benjamin Vaughan, a well-known political radical in England before settling in Hallowell, was a close friend of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.[1]


Image of a historic bridge at Vaughan Woods & Historic Homestead in Hallowell, Maine. The homestead is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is now a part of the Kennebec Land Trust. Photograph by Norm Rodrigue.

After graduating from Harvard Medical School in 1863, Dr. Charles E. Vaughan served as an assistant surgeon during the Civil War. He later married Elizabeth F. Wells of Cambridge in 1866.


Marriage announcement of Dr. Charles E. Vaughan and Elizabeth F. Wells in Quincy, Mass. Cambridge Chronicle, 28 April 1866.

That same year, the couple moved to a house on Garden Street between Mason Street and Appian Way across from Cambridge Common. Dr. Vaughan also used the home, now known as 8 Garden Street, as the base for his medical practice.


View of the Cambridge Common from the northeast, 1875. Appian and Mason have been highlighted, as well as property between them.

Elizabeth passed away in 1883. Dr. Vaughan lived at 8 Garden until 1886 he moved to 4 Brewster Place in 1886. After the death of his first wife, Vaughan married Alice C. Carter of Cambridge on October 11, 1894. Dr. Vaughan kept his practice on Garden Street until his retirement in 1895.


Plan of land at 8 and 10 Garden Street, pre-1853

In 1895, Dr. Vaughan retired to Santa Barbara, California, and the following year he sold his property on Garden Street to Radcliffe. Dr. Vaughan died on June 24, 1904 and is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery.

The Dr. Charles E. Vaughan Collection contains correspondence, deeds, maps, leases, and other documents related to the 8 Garden property and its sale by Dr. Vaughan to Radcliffe College in 1896. Documents relate to previous owners of the property including Charles C. Foster of Cambridge and Louisa Higginson of Brattleboro, Vermont.



Pages of Agreement to convey land – Louisa Higginson to C. C. Foster, 1852


Plans regarding the sale of the Garden Street property to Radcliffe College, 1896

To view these and other items from this collection, please stop by the CHC during our research hours: Monday: 2:00-7:00pm, Tuesday: 2:00-4:00pm, or Wednesday-Thursday: 10:00am-12:00pm and 2:00-4:00pm. To make a research appointment with our archivist Emily, please call 617.349.4683 or e-mail egonzalez@cambridgema.gov.

[1] Vaughan family papers, Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/collection-guides/view/fa0040.


Now Open: The Simplex Pennant Collection

This post was authored by our Simmons 438 Archives intern, Elise Riley

Until the mid-20th century, the Simplex Wire & Cable Company on Sidney Street was one of the largest manufacturers in Cambridge. Founded in Boston in 1840, Simplex moved to Cambridge in 1916 and manufactured electrical appliances and wire in a multi-building complex near Lafayette Square. MIT bought the property after the company moved to New Hampshire in 1970; University Park now occupies the site.

This collection holds 18 issues from 1945 of the Simplex Pennant, the company’s employee newsletter that gives us an authentic glimpse into daily life in Cambridge during the 1940s.

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Scores from company bowling league and trivia section.

Dedicated to manufacturing wires and cables for electrical use, Simplex Wire & Cable rose in the industry as an innovator, developing a submarine cable with a significantly longer lifespan. This invention came in handy as war broke out once again in 1939. Simplex became a main supplier of telecommunications cable to the US Army and Navy.

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A thank you note to Simplex Wire & Cable Company from US War Department.

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Simplex awarded its Fourth Gold Star from the US Maritime Commission.


Simplex Pennant masthead showing US War Department awards.

1945 was a pivotal year in World War II from Hitler’s defeat to VE Day. Woven into the Pennant’s committee reports are hints as to what was going on in the wider world.

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Entries honoring Franklin D. Roosevelt.

As the war raged on, The Pennant was there to capture the goings-on of domestic life and the war effort. The newsletter included birthday and wedding anniversary announcements as well as updates on enlisted employees or relatives.

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An employee’s letter from his son who had been released from a German P.O.W. camp.

It also featured cartoon reminders of attendance and safety precautions to keep morale and productivity up.

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A newsletter cartoon joking about attendance.

Come take a step back in time and explore the Simplex Pennant Collection! View the collection finding aid here. You can also take a look at selected pages from issues of the Simplex Pennant, digitized and available on our Flickr page.