The Cambridge Trotting Park: Part 1

This post is the first in a series of four written by guest author, Dan Sullivan, owner of The Book Oasis in Stoneham.


Part 1

Just a casual glance at an 1854 map of the city makes it clear that North Cambridge was a very different place than it is today. Now the map is crowded with streets, and the houses on them are built on small lots. Massachusetts Avenue is lined with businesses. By contrast, 1854 shows an area with very few streets. Most business in the area consist of a few farms and the brick industry. The one area that is beginning to show some ‘crowding’ is the village of Dublin, which is made up of Rindge Avenue, Sargent Street, and Dublin (now Sherman) Street. Few landmarks would be recognizable by a modern visitor. The most prominent feature on that map is something that has left little trace on today’s landscape; the Cambridge Trotting Park.

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Aerial view of Northwest Cambridge, 2019

From 1837 until 1855 North Cambridge had a sports arena that often drew thousands of spectators and had such a high level of talent that it regularly generated national news. Famous horses such as Black Hawk and Lady Suffolk raced on the track. The strange thing is, it got almost no coverage from the Cambridge Chronicle, and the stories that did appear in that paper seldom focused on the actual sporting events. Many did not even mention them.

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H.F. Walling & Co. map of Northwest Cambridge, 1854

The course was one mile around and followed a route that was just inside what are now Rindge Avenue, Harvey and Cedar streets, and about one hundred feet beyond Clifton Street. The name ‘Trotting Park’ is slightly misleading. Yes, that was the principal type of event held on the course but not the exclusive type. Besides being the site of multiple types of horse racing, the park also hosted many foot races, or what was known at the time as ‘Pedestrianism.’ I have found descriptions of a greased pig chase, two boxing matches, and multiple mixed event ‘handicapped’ races. In addition to these there was one event that came close to what we would call a track and field meet today. It consisted of a hammer throw, a mile run, and the one-hundred–yard dash with other less traditional events.

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Beadle’s dime hand-book of pedestrianism : giving the rules for training and practice in walking, running, leaping, vaulting, etc., etc. Together with a full account of the great Weston feat, 1867

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Detail of ‘Running’ section, Beadle’s hand-book, 1867

My principal sources for information for these events are out of state newspapers. Why, you might ask, would these papers cover the events at the Cambridge Trotting Park and yet the hometown paper almost completely ignore them? The answer was an ethical one. You see, the principal activity at the Park was not sports competition, but rather the gambling that took place on those events, and Cambridge in the 1800’s would rather have ignored that.

Check back next week for Part 2…

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Building and Structure Documentation Collection: Wolcott Gibbs Memorial Laboratory

Today, we are highlighting a building from our Building and Structure Documentation Collection. This collection documents buildings and structures in Cambridge that were either demolished or significantly altered. In this case, the materials were compiled as a condition of approval by the Cambridge Planning Board for a proposed replacement project.

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Close-up view of south facade of Gibbs Memorial Laboratory, Naito Chemistry Complex is under construction at the left of the photograph, 1999-2000.

For each building or structure, the corresponding box often includes an architectural description of the building or buildings, a narrative history, and archival photographs, negatives, photograph key(s), and/or electronic copies of the files and photographs. Today we are featuring the documentation of the Wolcott Gibbs Memorial Laboratory.

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Copy photograph of Wolcott Gibbs circa 1895. Original in Harvard University Archives.

The Wolcott Gibbs Memorial Laboratory, named to honor Harvard University Rumford professor Oliver Wolcott Gibbs, was originally constructed in 1913 to address issues of limited laboratory space at Harvard.

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View northwest, perspective view of Wolcott Gibbs Memorial Laboratory in 1913. Original in Harvard University Archives.

Located at the head of Frisbie Place, the building was designed by architect and 1876 Harvard graduate Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow Jr., nephew of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, for research in physical and inorganic chemistry.

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View into cold storage room and laboratory, second floor, Gibbs Memorial Laboratory, 1999-2000. This room was not part of the original building plan.

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View west from east side entrance into Gibbs Memorial Laboratory basement, 1999-2000. Note autoclave in center of photograph.

 

The laboratory cost $85,000 to build. During its construction in 1912, the Harvard Crimson noted that “The Wolcott Gibbs Laboratory will be unique in this country, and in fact will be the foremost institution of its kind in the world. The proposed group of buildings, which will cost a million dollars, would give the University an unrivaled place in the field of chemical science.”

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View of vestibule from front hall, first floor of Gibbs Memorial Laboratory, 1999-2000. Note the six light transom set above the doors. An arch at the top frames the individual lights and mullions delimit them. The frame around each light resembles a pier arch.

The building was constructed with a high degree of integrity of design including elements derived from classical, Roman, medieval, late Gothic and Corinthian architecture. In the 1960s, the laboratory was remodeled for inclusion of biochemistry laboratories, and in the early 2000s, the building was demolished.

Look for more building and structure documentation in future posts!

Focus On: CHC Volunteers

We are back with the latest installment of our blog series on the wonderful CHC volunteers. Today we would like you to meet volunteer (and former staff and Commission member) Allison Crump.

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How long have you been with the Cambridge Historical Commission?

I came to the Commission as an Audubon summer intern in 1975, while attending the Columbia Preservation program.  After graduation, I joined the staff for several years.  Later I was an appointed member of the Commission for 20 years.  Now I’m retired, I’m back to my roots!

What collection have you been working on? Tell us more about it.

The City Clerk’s archives include several boxes of applications to the Cambridge City Council for permission to move structures, which was once a common practice.  The applications I am working with date from 1870 – 1910; these are the ones we have found, but there may well be more. [Editor’s note: We are calling this the Building Removals Collection. Allison has been going through the applications in search of the original and subsequent – post-move – locations of these structures.]

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A building removal form for a property at Broadway and Main, 1888

What is the importance of the Building Removals Collection?

When I am successful at determining the original and subsequent locations, it’s a view into development patterns, as demands for more modern, larger structures in high-value locations created surplus structures available for re-use in various ways, often in areas newly subdivided for development.

What’s challenging is that descriptions of the sites are not always precise, and even when street numbers are used, these have often changed over time.  In some cases, approved removals appear to have never occurred, or were subject to multiple applications as proposed routes or locations shifted.  Another interesting aspect is the activity of specific moving firms at different periods.

It’s most satisfying when the survey files have speculated that a building was moved to its current location, and the removal files tie it to an original site.

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Example of a completed building removal research form (completed by a former CHC staff member)

What is your academic and career background?

In undergrad, I majored in history and art history, specializing in architectural history.  After Columbia and working at the Commission, I gradually migrated into affordable housing and nonprofit finance as my professional focus.  It’s fun to be back in the research game.

How long have you lived in Cambridge?

Over 40 years.  But I’m still a newcomer, and would never presume to describe this as my hometown.  My kid’s a native, though, so that gives me some standing.

What is your favorite thing about historic preservation? (or, your favorite building in Cambridge?)

I’m most interested in the flexibility of structures to adapt to changing needs over time.  That makes it possible to maintain continuity and context in the built environment, even when their original purpose has been superseded.  It’s also deeply satisfying to witness the extent to which preservation values have become accepted and see individual buildings, streets and neighborhoods which once seemed doomed, now in good repair and no longer threatened.  The block of Broadway between Prospect and Inman Streets is a great example of this phenomenon.

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Thank you, Allison!

A Whaleback Barge in the Charles River

Today’s post was written by CHC Executive Director Charles M. Sullivan.


In 1894 the Union Switch & Signal Company installed signals that prevented trains on the Boston & Maine and Fitchburg railroads from proceeding in or out of North Station when the Charles River drawbridges were in the raised position.

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Whaleback barge in the Charles River, ca. 1895. Photographer unknown.

The company publicized the project by distributing this photo of three empty coal barges passing through the drawbridges. The three-masted barge in the foreground was probably built as a schooner, but it retains only vestiges of its original rig. A similar vessel leads the procession.

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Figure 9.5 from Building Old Cambridge: Architecture and Development. Wharves near Harvard Square, ca. 1862. Sargent’s Wharf (foreground) is piled with lumber; four two-masted schooners are tied up beyond the College Wharf.

The second vessel was a steel whaleback barge, a rarity on the East Coast.  This type of vessel was developed to carry bulk cargoes on the Great Lakes. The first, Barge 101, was launched at Duluth, Minnesota in 1888.

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“Whaleback Str. A.D. Thompson [sic],” ca. 1905 by Detroit Publishing Co. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

The design was a mixed success, but over the next eight years the American Steel Barge Co. built about 40 more whaleback barges and steamships. The company also had two vessels, Barge 201 and Barge 202, built in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1890 for saltwater service.

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“Loading the Great Whaleback Ship at the Famous Grain Elevators, Chicago, U.S.A.,” ca. 1895. Photographed by George Barker, published by Strohmeyer & Wyman. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

The Charles River photo shows the 190-foot-long Barge 202 returning to Boston Harbor after delivering coal to a wharf upstream on the Charles River. On June 18, 1892 the Cambridge Tribune noted that the whaleback then discharging 1,400 tons of coal at Richardson & Bacon’s wharf near Harvard Square was “the largest boat that ever came through the Craigie Bridge.”

Even in the late 19th century the Charles remained an important avenue of commerce; in 1893 sixty-four sailing vessels and sixty-one barges called at wharves in Old Cambridge (Harvard Square) and Watertown.

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Figure 9.11 from Building Old Cambridge: Architecture and Development. The industrial waterfront of Old Cambridge, seen from the chimney of the Boston Elevated Railway’s power plant in 1897. Richardson & Bacon’s coal shed is in the foreground. A schooner is unloading bulk cargo at Sargent’s Wharf. The Cambridge Park Commission has moved the Cambridge Casino from the foot of Hawthorn Street to the flats near DeWolfe Street, where it was burned by arsonists. Harvard moved its boathouses downstream below Winthrop’s Wharf in the 1870s to escape the city’s sewer outfall at the foot of Dunster Street.

This photo was taken in 1897, soon after Barges 201 and 202 brought cargoes of coal from Edgewater, N.J. A year later both vessels were sent to the Great Lakes via the St. Lawrence River and the Welland Canal. The last whaleback on the Great Lakes was taken out of service in 1969 and is preserved at Superior, Wisconsin.

Sources:

C. Roger. Pellett, Whaleback Ships and the American Steel Barge Company (Wayne State
University Press, 2018)

Susan E. Maycock and Charles M. Sullivan, Building Old Cambridge: Architecture and
Development
(MIT Press, 2016)

Boston Globe, Boston Post, Cambridge Chronicle, and Cambridge Tribune

 

Focus On: CHC Volunteers

October might be almost over, but it’s still American Archives Month — and in celebration of all things archive-y, we will be highlighting some of our fabulous archives volunteers. This week we would like you to meet Kathleen Fox.

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Kathleen organizing correspondence from the Ellis and Andrews Real Estate Collection

Kathleen began volunteering at the Historical Commission in October 2017, and says she is “driven by curiosity.”  We asked Kathleen a few questions to learn more about her volunteer work, and her life outside of the Historical Commission.

What collections have you worked on at the Commission? Tell us about them.

I began with processing a very large collection of maps and plans in the E.F. Bowker Collection, creating a spreadsheet listing each map or plan, the streets it pertained to, the owner, the surveyor, the date, etc.   Bowker was a mainstream and very successful civil engineer/surveyor in Cambridge. This was interesting work because of the light it shed on real estate development in the city, and because it was the first collection I had processed.

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Plan of St. Mary’s Parochial School, E.F. Bowker Collection

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Bow and Arrow Streets, E.F. Bowker Collection

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What is your academic and career background?

I received my B.F.A. in 1967, and went to work  as a secretary in the Mabel Brady Garvan Collection of American Art at the Yale University Art Gallery. After two years in New Haven I moved to Boston where I worked briefly for an architecture firm, and then as an administrative assistant in the Department of Humanities at MIT. Following that, after two years at a private research commission I spent the remainder of my working life at the Harvard School of Government (1980-2009), ending up as Assistant Dean for Teaching Support.

At the same time as I was working in academe I was a practicing artist, and taught watercolor painting at Brookline Adult Education. In about 1970 I was co-founder of an art studio in Boston next to Symphony Hall – – the Kaji Aso Studio. The studio gave classes in watercolor and oil painting, calligraphy and ceramics. It also had a poetry program and a music program. The Studio continues to this day. I drifted away in the mid-80’s , but continued my work as an artist while I worked in academe to support myself.

Somewhere along the line in the late 1990s I drifted once again – this time away from making art as I got more and more interested in history.

Do you volunteer anywhere else?

I volunteer in the Historical Collections at the Mount Auburn Cemetery and also at the Massachusetts Historical Society. I do whatever needs doing – – mostly background research and elementary preservation work.

What do you like to do in your free time?

After researching the history of my own 1893 house I got interested in researching the history of equally old houses on my block in Arlington.  This haphazardly expanded – – and now people commission me to research the history of their homes.  I am now working on my 29th history . Most have been in Arlington, but I have done two in Cambridge and a couple in surrounding suburbs. In the spring and summer I am also in the garden as much as possible.

What is the best (or your favorite) thing you’ve found in an archive?

At the CHC right now I am processing the papers from the real estate firm of Ellis and Andrews [old finding aid here; new one in progress]. The collection spans the period from c. 1893 to c. 1935.  These real estate transactions provide a very interesting and enlightening view of the cultural and financial values of the time, not to mention the growth of the city of Cambridge in the late 19th and early 20th century . This and the Bowker collection together have completely changed the way I view the cityscape as I walk around Cambridge.

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Correspondence to Mr. Melledge, Ellis and Andrews Collection

At the Massachusetts Historical Society there have been many memorable moments – – finding a flyer for a slave auction, listing the slaves by name;  holding a book printed in 1504 (the oldest thing I have ever held); and a letter from a local Massachusetts businessman to President James Garfield offering to send him the water bed he had developed for good health – – in 1881!! At Mount Auburn there have been more interesting finds than I could possibly list.

Thank you, Kathleen!

Stayed tuned for another installment of our Focus On: CHC Volunteers series.

Archives 101: This Wednesday 10/10

Celebrate American Archives Month with us at the Historical Commission!

This month we are offering a special tour of our archives, featuring an in-depth look at some of our many historical resources.

Join us this Wednesday, October 10 at 1 pm, OR Monday, October 22 at 6pm. Email egonzalez at cambridgema dot gov to reserve a spot. Tours will run around an hour.


Attendees of the tour will:

  • Get a behind-the-scenes look at the Commission’s archives and library space
  • Get an up-close look at a variety of historical resources, including: atlases, survey files, city directories, historic photographs, postcards, objects, and architectural drawings.
  • Learn how to research their house, building, or organization using the Commission’s files.
  • Receive helpful tips on preserving and caring for their own family papers and photographs.

 

WWII Ration Books

We have recently added a set of WWII ration books to our collection. These books belonged to a Jewish family who lived at 20 Worcester Street, Cambridge, in 1942.

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Hyman Yale Brown was born in Boston on November 2, 1905. Hyman was working as a clerk in Boston when he married Rose Shapiro of Cambridge on August 17, 1930. Rose was born on June 28, 1907. Both were graduates in the Class of 1928 from Northeastern University and received bachelor degrees in law that year.

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War Ration Book One issued to Hyman Brown on 4 May 1942.

During his lifetime, Hyman was a member of the Beth Israel Brotherhood, a District Warden in the civilian defense City Public Safety Program, and aided in the campaign of Republican candidate for Congress, Vincent Mottola. The Browns were devoted members of the former Beth Israel Synagogue at 238 Columbia Street.

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War Ration Book One issued to Edward Mordecai Brown on 4 May 1942.

At the time of their marriage, Rose was a lawyer in Cambridge, and following the ceremony and a camping trip honeymoon, the newlyweds moved in with Rose’s parents at 20 Worcester Street in Cambridgeport. They later had two sons: David in 1932, and Edward in 1937. The couple was living at the Worcester Street address when they and their two sons were issued ration books in 1942.

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War Ration Book Four issued to Rose S. Brown ca. 1942

During World War II, each American was issued a set of ration books. All family members, even children, possessed ration books and a customer would not be able to purchase specific rationed goods without also surrendering a ration stamp.

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Pages and stamps from War Ration Book Four issued to Rose S. Brown ca. 1942

Each ration book held stamps that could be exchanged at a local grocer for rationed items such as coffee, sugar, grains, meat, and canned goods. These small booklets were designed to cut down on profiteering as a result of import restrictions and goods shortages. The program’s goal was to distribute goods evenly among those on the Home Front while maintaining supply for military overseas.

If you are interested in studying these ration books or have other research inquiries, please contact our Archivist, Emily Gonzalez, at egonzalez@cambridgema.gov.

New Collections Available!

We are happy to announce that we have recently processed and updated finding aids from several collections in our holdings. Scroll down for descriptions and sample images from the following collections: Patsy Baudoin Collection of Cambridge Prints and Photographs, Edwin Freeman Bowker Collection, Honors and Awards Collection, Alan McClennen Senior Collection, Cambridge Militia Records, City of Cambridge Veterans’ Graves Registration Cards Inventory, and William Lawrence Galvin Collection.


Patsy Baudoin Collection of Cambridge Prints and Photographs

This collection, sometimes known as an artificial collection, consists of photographs, drawings, and prints of historical houses and locations in Cambridge.  Also included are several page clippings from various books including the Historic Guide to Cambridge, Ever New England, and other area guides to historic houses.

Johnston Gate, Harvard Yard

One (1) pencil sketch: Johnston Gate, Harvard Yard by W. Harry Smith (Artist)

Most of the houses depicted in the prints were built pre-Revolutionary War, from 1660-1763, and have a long history of famous residents, including Margaret Fuller, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and John White Webster.  Additionally, many of the houses are listed as National Historic Landmarks including the seven houses that make up “Tory Row” on Brattle Street.

Longfellow in his Study

Longfellow in his study ca. 1870-1880. Photographer unknown.

Click here to view the finding aid for this collection.

Edwin Freeman Bowker Collection

This collection is composed of five boxes and two flat files containing Edwin F. Bowker’s professional correspondence as a civil engineer and surveyor. Included are surveyor’s notes and records, draft sketches, manual calculations, notes on markers, drawings, plans, transcripts regarding property boundaries from deeds, and correspondence from mid-1886 through 1919.

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Documents related to property at Hasting and Monson Streets, 1920

Click here to view the finding aid for this collection.

Honors and Awards Collection

This collection contains certificates honoring the Cambridge Historical Commission and various Cambridge businesses and organizations for their service to the built environment of this community.

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Plaque and pencil sketch for the City of Cambridge Ruth L. Barron Award for Outstanding Community Service, 2014.

Click here to view the finding aid for this collection.

Alan McClennen Senior Collection

Included in this collection are maps, development studies, town reports, and traffic studies for the City of Cambridge with the bulk of the materials dating from the 1950s to the 1970s. Alan McClennen served as the Planning Director for the City of Cambridge from 1958 until 1968. Researchers interested in viewing the Alan McClennen Senior Collection will be engaged by topics on community development in the City of Cambridge during the mid-twentieth century. We would like to give a special thanks to volunteer Steve Kaiser, for to his contribution to the spreadsheet and box list for this collection.

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Booklet for Alewife Brook Park created by AD Little/Cambridge Corporation, 1968

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Memo on Railroad Grade Separations by the Cambridge Planning Board, 5 December 1950

Click here to view the finding aid for this collection.

Cambridge Militia Records

This collection contains nine record books detailing militia records for the City of Cambridge for the years 1846-1886. Each book contains lists of names recording those enrolled in the Cambridge Militia. At times these lists are accompanied by marginal notes.

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Militia roll: 1877 (“Ward Two Book”)

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Cambridge Militia Ledger: 1846-1859

Click here to view the finding aid for this collection.

City of Cambridge Veterans’ Graves Registration Cards Inventory

This collection contains veterans’ graves registration cards, filed in alphabetical order, for graves in various cemeteries in Cambridge. A majority of the graves are registered at Mount Auburn Cemetery and Cambridge Cemetery, but also include others, such as the North Cambridge Catholic Cemetery and Belmont Town Cemetery.

Click here to view the finding aid for this collection.

William Lawrence Galvin Collection

The collection contains print and photographic materials of William L. Galvin’s professional records and architectural drawings. This collection consists of correspondence, writing, articles, government records, photographs and drawings that depict Galvin’s professional career. The core of the collection consists of drawings for over 1,000 architectural projects, of which about 530 projects in Cambridge have been cataloged.

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Proposed Dormitory – Social and Recreational Center, Lesley College, undated

For the first time, indexes to photographs in the Galvin collection as well as rolled items not related to Cambridge are available. Follow the links above to view PDFs of these lists.

Over a 50-year career, 1927-1979, Galvin made a significant impact on the landscape of Cambridge through his numerous projects and constant support for progressive land use to fit a modernizing Cambridge community. This collection provides valuable insight into Galvin’s personality and professional work that has left a lasting mark on the landscape of the City of Cambridge.

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Drawing of Shea Cleaning Plant and Showroom, undated

Click here to view the finding aid for this collection.

To view the above collections, please make an appointment with our archivist, Emily, at egonzalez@cambridgema.gov. Our research hours are: Monday: 4:00-7:00 pm | Tuesday: 2:00-4:00 pm | Wednesday – Thursday: 10-12 and 2-4 pm.

Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to process collections and make them available for research!

 

Did You Know?

Welcome to the first installment of a little blog series, “Did You Know?,” where we  highlight some of the documentary resources available at the CHC.

During the summer, we receive a lot of phone calls and emails inquiring after the Old Burying Ground in Harvard Square (sometimes referred to as the “Old Burial Ground”). Many people visit from out of town and would like to know where their ancestor, or person of historical interest, was buried — do we have a map of the burying ground? What about lists of burials? Records of specific epitaphs?

The answers: Yes, we have documentation on all of those things! It is important to note that, although this was the only burying ground in Cambridge until the early 1800s, many burial plots today remain unmarked.

Those interested in finding out more about the Old Burying Ground can make an appointment to check out the resources at our office, or find some of the digitized resources online.

Check out our list of some of these print and online resources:

  • We have a copy of the book, Epitaphs from the Old Burying Ground in Cambridge, (1845) by William T. Harris. This publication is also available online at Google Books.

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  • We also have several other useful books in our office.

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Paige’s essential early Cambridge history book, complete with helpful Supplement and Index, lists out the residents of Cambridge and their relations from 1630-1877. We often use this to figure out if a person died in Cambridge.

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Consulting Cambridge’s vital records to 1850 can also help locate a burial record. Cambridge Church Records, Records of the Town and Selectmen of Cambridge, and Proprietors Records of the Town of Cambridge, may also provide interesting genealogical clues and contextual information on the goings-on in early Cambridge.

  • For more information on the history of the Old Burying Ground, check out the book “Building Old Cambridge: Architecture and Development” (2016) by Susan Maycock and Charles Sullivan. The City of Cambridge’s Department of Public Works has an excerpt from the book on their website: https://www.cambridgema.gov/theworks/ourservices/cambridgecemetery/oldburialground/historyandnotableburials
  • Other cemeteries in Cambridge:
    • Cambridge Cemetery, opened 1853, 617-349-4890
    • Roman Catholic, Archdiocese of Boston’s Genealogy and Cemetery Locations, 781-322-6300
      • North Cambridge Cemetery on Rindge Avenue, Cambridge, opened 1846
      • Sand Banks Cemetery (aka Mt. Auburn Catholic or Cottage Street cemetery), on Cottage St., Watertown, Searchable Database
    • Mount Auburn Cemetery, opened 1831, 617-547-7105
    • (No longer a cemetery) Cambridgeport Burial Ground, opened 1812, closed 1865. When this cemetery on Broadway in Cambridgeport was closed in 1865, existing burials were relocated to the new Cambridge Cemetery or another cemetery selected by the family of the deceased. The former burial ground was then re-purposed as a public park and called Broadway Common/Broadway Park and later renamed Edward J. Sennott Park.

To see these resources in person, or for answers to other questions, feel free to call the Historical Commission at 617-349-4683, or email us at histcomm at cambridgema.gov. Additionally, check out our other documentary resources on our page here.

Getting to Know Your CHC Staff: Part 4

Welcome back to our ongoing series featuring the staff members who do wonderful work here at the CHC! This post introduces our Archivist, Emily Gonzalez.


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Emily showing one of her favorite items from our collections – Motor Boot Spats once made by the Cambridge Rubber Company

Where did you grow up?

My family moved quite a bit, but I mainly grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. The East Coast feels like my home now, but I’ll always be a Midwestern gal.

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You haven’t lived until you’ve gone to the MN State Fair

Where did you go to school? What was your degree?

For undergrad I attended Lawrence University, a small school in Appleton, Wisconsin, and earned my BA in English Lit and Spanish. I did my graduate studies in Library Science and History at Simmons College here in Boston.

What are your interests or hobbies?

I love movies and documentaries, both old and new. I love visiting museums and historic sites, traveling, and trying out new restaurants. I just signed up to volunteer with Broken Tail Rescue, a local animal rescue organization, and I am super excited. About once a season I’ll force myself to run a road race (usually a 5k).

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I love old photographs. This one is of my grandpa Les and his siblings on a farm in South Dakota.

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I also like cross-stitch, particularly the subversive kind. Image credit: http://www.subversivecrossstitch.com/

Name some fun facts about you.

  • I’m first-generation Cuban American, but I didn’t become fluent in Spanish until I was in college.
  • The summer after college I worked at a fast food kiosk inside of a zoo in St. Paul. It was called “Zooper Food.”
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Thanks for the free corndogs, Zooper. Image courtesy of Google.

  • My fiancé and I have a tuxedo cat named June. She rules the household.
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HRH

When did you start working at the CHC?

November 2015.

What do you like best about working at the CHC?

No one day is like the other. There are always new research requests, collections to process, reorganize or digitize, and cool archival discoveries. I also love learning about the ins and outs of historic preservation through my colleagues.

Do you have other professional pursuits?

I’m an active member of the Society of American Archivists and New England Archivists, and I’m on the Collections Committee at the Cambridge Historical Society.

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Archivist fashion

Give us a glimpse into your daily work or a current project.

A “typical” day could involve answering a research request, checking in with volunteers on their latest projects, discussing ongoing projects with my colleagues Meta and Emily, writing up text for promotional materials, emailing with other city departments or organizations about outreach activities, chatting about next year’s Cambridge Open Archives event, or meeting about the next steps in our big digitization project (“C-DASH”).

Because I manage our archives operation here, I don’t really do a lot of collections processing, so it’s nice when I do get to scan some historic photographs or reorganize a collection. I’m lucky in that I have such amazing archives assistants and colleagues, and that the CHC had library science interns and archives volunteers working on our collections for so long before I came here.

What is your favorite photograph, artifact, or collection at CHC?

I love the old restaurant menus in the Cambridge Ephemera Collection. The Wursthaus menu from August 6, 1962, is probably my favorite. Look at the “Businessmen’s Luncheon” – what a deal!   [Note: The Wursthaus was a restaurant located at 4 Boylston Street, now JFK, in Harvard Square]

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(Cambridge Ephemera Collection, CHC002).

I also love images that capture great facial expressions, like this one from our Cambridge Recreation Department Collection (CHC011).

emg-recdeptWhat do you like best about living or working in Cambridge?

The quirky, intelligent community and how much love they have for the City’s history.

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