Modern Monday: Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle Street

Exterior of Loeb Drama Center_Radcliffe College Archives

Completed in 1960, the Loeb Drama Center at 64 Brattle Street stands as one of Cambridge’s greatest examples of Modern Architecture. The structure is human-scaled, made of regional materials and is a sensitive addition to its residential and commercial neighbors along Brattle Street. The scale of the building was reduced to blend in with adjacent heights and the use of New England waterstruck brick is a nod to the Harvard and Radcliffe buildings nearby. Exposed concrete serves as a sort of frame to the delicate ornamental grille which provides a lace-like effect, enhanced further at night when the light from inside the building shines through.

Exterior View of Loeb Drama Center_night_Radcliffe College ArchivesExterior View: Harvard - Loeb Drama Center, 29 Brattle Street

Architect Hugh Stubbins wanted the theater to be architecturally exciting, while still serving as a backdrop to the purpose of the building, the arts. Stubbins was quoted as saying, “the auditorium should please the imagination in such a way as to release it, not captivate it” and later went on to reference examples of recent museums and art galleries erected by architects to overshadow the art within them.

Interior View of Loeb Drama Center_Radcliffe College ArchivesView of Loeb Drama Center setbuilding_Radcliffe College Archives

The building opens right off the sidewalk of Brattle Street by the way of deep setbacks off the first floor, forming a porch-like or arcade feeling. The sides of the building open to a garden court on one side and a spacious terrace on the other. The travertine flooring in the lobby extends gracefully to the brick-paved courtyard, contained by a red brick serpentine wall.

Exterior courtyard Loeb Drama Center_Radcliffe College ArchivesExterior View of Loeb Drama Center (2)_Radcliffe College Archives

The theater was unveiled as a mechanical marvel as the first fully-automatic and flexible theatre in the United States. The audience’s position in relation to the stage, along with the position and shape of the stage itself could be altered between three main configurations: theater-in-the-round, proscenium, and arena seating, all possibly during the same performance. Yale’s noted stage technician and theater design engineer, George C. Izenour worked with Stubbins to integrate lighting, rigging and staging into an automated and hydraulic lift system, which could be altered and staged by just two people in mere minutes.

The Loeb Drama Center is now home to The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at Harvard University, which collaborates with artists around the world to develop and create work in new ways. To learn more about A.R.T. and their upcoming shows and events, check out their website at: https://americanrepertorytheater.org/

1960 color photo_CHC_LOEB

Color slide courtesy of CHC Staff.

Historic photos courtesy of Radcliffe College Archives and CHC slides.

Advertisements

Modern Monday: Charter House Motor Hotel

Today’s Modern Monday posting is highlighting the Charter House Motor Hotel (now Royal Sonesta Boston). Completed in 1963, the first tower, with its zig-zag shape was developed by the Hotel Corporation of America, led by founder A.M. “Sonny” Sonnabend.

Charter House Survey photo

Sonnabend decided to locate the company’s first ever high-rise motor hotel in the United States in Cambridge due to its location near transportation routes, businesses, universities and proximity to the downtown Boston area. To stand out from competition, the motor hotel required high quality design, ample parking, and interior amenities including: televisions, radios, air-conditioning, and complete hotel services for all rooms. The word “Motel” was created as a blending of the words “motor” and “hotel” and has since served as a defining piece of roadside architectural history.

Viewed from boat

The Hotel Corporation of America was renamed Sonesta International Hotels Corporation in 1970. Due to the success and location of the Sonesta Hotel on Cambridge Parkway in East Cambridge, the Sonesta Corporation began planning for a renovation and addition to the hotel, doubling the amount of rooms and enhancing facilities for the modern traveler. Architect John T. Olson designed a Post-Modern tower to stand next to the 60’s Modernist hotel. Boston Globe’s architectural critic at the time, Robert Campbell called the original tower an “upended waffle” and noted that the later addition was the region’s first large-scale Post-Modern development.

East Elevation_Window detail zoomed

The Post-Modern tower addition features large expanses of brick and is distinguished by the gabled features at the roof. John Olson, the head architect explained the design and goal as wanting to make a hotel that would look house-like and more domestic than institutional. The triangular gable shape was seen as a symbol for the idea of a house and was repeated both inside and outside of the addition. The pediments over the slightly projecting wings, resemble the long expanses of rowhouses which are synonymous to Boston architecture. Besides red brick, the main cladding material on the building is a green tile, which was selected to resemble the patinaed green copper seen elsewhere in Cambridge and Beacon Hill, just over the Charles River.

Current Photo

The two towers stand proudly at the entrance of Cambridge from Boston and showcase how far architectural taste can change in a matter of 20 years. Globe writer, Campbell stated that “The new wing of the former Sonesta Hotel on the Charles River stands next to its predecessor as if the two were a pair of slides chosen by a professor of art history to illustrate just how far architectural taste can travel in a single generation”. Which wing do you prefer?

Aerial Image.png

Full view

Newly-Digitized Images – Lois M. Bowen Collection

We are happy to announce the addition of 28 images to our CHC Flickr account. These images come from the Lois M. Bowen Collection. Bowen was a Cambridge-based photographer and entrepreneur who owned a camera shop, Cambridge Camera and Marine, in Harvard Square from the 1940s to 1995.

Kodak film cannister owned by Lois M. Bowen

Kodak film cannister owned by Lois M. Bowen, ca 1960s

Ms. Bowen was a freelance photographer for several organizations and publications around Cambridge and Boston, including The Architects’ Collaborative and Architectural Forum Magazine, as well as advertising agencies and admissions publications for colleges and universities.

Cover: "Architectural Forum: The Magazine of Building"

Cover: “Architectural Forum: The Magazine of Building”, June 1964

Pages from "Architectural Forum: The Magazine of Building" featu

Pages from “Architectural Forum: The Magazine of Building” featuring the work of Lois M. Bowen, June 1964

Bowen’s work was primarily focused on architecture, but her photographic subjects spanned the Northeast and included documentation of her own life and community.

View of Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston

View of Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, 4 September 1978

Contact sheet: images of Strawberry Banke

Contact sheet: images of Strawberry Banke, October 1966

In addition to the photographic materials there are business papers and documents as well as personal correspondence and ephemera.

Cambridge Camera and Marine

Interior view of Cambridge Camera and Marine, ca. 1960s

Interior View: 14 Old Dee Road

Interior View: 14 Old Dee Road in Cambridge, ca. 1960s

Visit our Flickr page to view these images and more from this collection.

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.

Conley_William_J_1920001

Conley_William_J_1920002

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.

YWCA001

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.

Alewife001

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

RR_grade_sep001

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.

IMAG3955

Militia roll: 1877 (“Ward Two Book”)

IMAG3956

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.

32378812693_190ca5154e_z

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.

33152217706_e777974768_z

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!

 

Photo Morgue Digitization

In a recent study published in The American Archivist, Laura McCann details the history of photo morgues, and their importance considering the newspaper industry’s shift from print to digital media. Ms. McCann is a conservation librarian in the Barbara Goldsmith Preservation and Conservation Department at New York University (NYU) Libraries. In light of our own newly-opened photo morgue collection (detailed below), her article has been summarized here.


When the use of photographic images began to appear alongside news print, only larger newspapers could afford full-time photography departments. Thus, many small establishments turned to news agency photography departments to compete and meet the growing demand for photographic images.

fire

“Billows of smoke pour from the John P. Squire Co. meat packing plant, as fireman battle to bring the blaze under control” (14 April 1963). Cambridge Photo Morgue Collection.

While the negatives and their copyright were usually maintained by the parent agency, the smaller papers developed “photo morgues” to organize and manage photographic print assets obtained from the news agencies and other parties. A caption or tag line, along with copyright information and a date, would usually be recorded on the verso of a print or on an affixed section of paper.

ellsburg

“Cambridge, Mass., June 17 – Ellsberg residence” (17 June 1971). Cambridge Photo Morgue Collection.

Over the past few years, the CHC has collected many prints from various newspapers in the greater-Boston area. This collection, Cambridge Photo Morgue Collection, contains black-and-white prints taken by newspaper photographers to illustrate stories regarding the city of Cambridge. Images in this collection represent a wide breadth of topics including protests, political figures, buildings, and city projects, thus documenting the social change and architectural evolution of Cambridge in the 20th century.

cages

“Courtroom cages outlawed” (1963). Cambridge Photo Morgue Collection.

In an effort to reach those interested in Cambridge history, we recently sent these images to undergo digitization by Digital Commonwealth. The entire collection can be viewed by clicking here. This process is ongoing, and we plan to add more digitized content in the coming months.

screenshot_DC

Screenshot from the Cambridge Photo Morgue Collection image “Cambridge ‘Sparks’ and his radio scooter”. Cambridge Photo Morgue Collection.

We hope the opening of this collection will bring interest to the images and inspire additional exploration. For further resources, check the Library of Congress list of Newspaper Photograph Morgues.

References:

McCann, Laura. “The Whole Story: News Agency Photographs in Newspaper Photo Morgue Collections.” The American Archivist 80, no. 1 (2017): 163-188.

MayDay in the Archives (a belated post)

May 1st has become known as MayDay in the archives world. Every year on May 1st, archivists and other cultural heritage professionals take time to assess the preservation needs of their collections and amend glaring problems.

In acknowledgement of MayDay, we would like to take this opportunity to communicate some quick tips for preserving your own archival materials at home. We will focus on relaying basic information for care and storage of the three most commonly saved items: scrapbooks, photographs, and documents.

Scrapbooks

Albums of photographs, newspaper clippings, and other ephemera weave a narrative of family history. However, the materials from which many scrapbooks are constructed can be harmful. Adhesives, dated plastic sheets, and newspaper accelerate deterioration of photographs and documents.

Harvard Sq trolley men

This image of Harvard Square trolley workers show how over time, adhesive can cause document and photographs to pull and create ripples.

We recommend scanning your scrapbook pages to create a digital surrogate, or removing items in danger of damage. If you want to keep your scrapbooks intact, make sure to store them in a dark area with a lower temperature (at least below 75° and at 65° if possible) and a lower relative humidity (below 65%). Often, linen closets work well for this purpose! Store your scrapbooks in a box made of acid free-materials.

Photographs

Printed images communicate stories and are seen as proof of events and past existence. Yet, the people and places within these images can quickly fade if not taken care of properly.

Interior View: 33 Washington Avenue

This photograph has begun to yellow, likely due to the acidic paper to which it is mounted.

Photographs should be placed inside acid-free folders or archival plastic sleeves and kept inside in a dark room or closet with a lower temperature and relative humidity.

If your photographs have been rolled for a long period of time and are now stuck, consult a professional who can humidify and flatten your print safely. If you scan your photographs, you will be able to view it whenever you like, and lessen the effects of UV and humidity on your physical prints.

Documents

Documents such as letters, postcards, and paper records provide us with descriptions and evidence. Often, these items are unique and become more fragile over time. If you have paper in your family collection, separate pages from harmful materials such as newspaper or staples.

membership_card001

The acidic paper of this Signet Hosiery Company membership book has begun to yellow, and the staples are in danger of rusting if not kept in a cool, dry place.

Like scrapbooks and photographs, make sure to store your documents in a cool and dry location (not an attic or basement). Store documents in acid-free containers, ideally inside folders and a box.

If you would like to learn more about how to preserve documents, photographs, scrapbooks, or other materials you may have, contact our archivist, Emily at egonzalez@cambridgema.gov or 617.349.4683.

Time Travel Tuesday: Stereographs

Welcome to the inaugural episode of Time Travel Tuesday! This series will focus on aspects of history illustrated by objects in our collections. In today’s post, we’ll be talking about stereographs.

Have you ever watched a movie in 3D or spent hours staring at a Magic Eye image hoping to see whatever was hidden in all the abstract colors? 3D imaging is somewhat of a novelty, even today, but the impulse to create two dimensional images that look 3D has been around a lot longer than you might think. In the early decades of the 19th century, inventors began devising ways to create the illusion of a three dimensional view, even before advances in photographic technology made it possible to quickly and inexpensively create direct representations of the world.

Early 3D photographs (and drawings) were called stereographs or stereograms. Stereoscopy, the technique used to create stereographs, works because our eyes see at slightly different angles from each other. When your eyes work together, in stereo, you perceive a three dimensional view of your surroundings. Close one eye and the world flattens. By placing a slightly different image to be viewed by each eye independent of the other, your mind is tricked into seeing a three dimensional scene.

The first stereoscope was invented by a man called Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1838. Wheatstone’s original apparatus employed a system of mirrors to reflect two slightly different images to the eyes. Six years later, David Brewster improved on Wheatstone’s design, doing away with the mirrors and instead using prisms in a closed case. Stereoscopy became all the rage in Victorian England. Even Queen Victoria was bitten by the stereo bug. The Great Exhibition of 1851 brought the stereoscope to an international audience and around 1860 Cambridge native Oliver Wendell Holmes invented his own version of the stereoscope.

The Holmes Stereopticon, also known as the American stereoscope, was incredibly popular. In the years following its invention, which Holmes declined to patent, thousands upon thousands of stereoscopic images, also known as stereographs, were produced for viewing through a stereoscope. They were cheap and readily available, making them a truly democratic amusement.

The CHC has a number of stereographs as part of the Postcards and Stereographs Collection, depicting historical monuments, notable residences, churches, Harvard University, and landscape views.

stereograph001

Washington’s Headquarters (Prof. Longfellow’s Residence), Cambridge. Not dated. Produced by American Stereoscopic Views.

stereograph006

The Washington Elm. “Under this tree Washington first took command of the American Army. July 3rd 1775.” Not dated. Produced by A.E. Alden, Boston.

 

stereograph007

Vicinity of Boston. Park and Garden Series. Not Dated. Produced by C. Seaver, Jr. Photographer. Labeled on reverse “Residence near Mt. Auburn.” This is the only color stereograph in our collection. See below for more information.

Updated: It was recently pointed out to us by an eagle-eyed commenter that the above image is, in fact, a house formerly in Roxbury. This house appears in a painting of Roxbury in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, below: 

Stereographs were mass produced as souvenirs. People visiting Cambridge could purchase these cards and bring them home with them to relive their trip. This is evidenced by the frequent inclusion of historical information on the back of the cards.

stereograph002

Elmwood, Birthplace of James Russell Lowell, Cambridge Mass. Not dated. Produced by Underwood & Underwood Publishers.

stereograph003

[Reverse] Elmwood, Birthplace of James Russell Lowell, Cambridge Mass. Not dated. Produced by Underwood & Underwood Publishers.

Especially interesting in this example is the inclusion of multiple languages at the bottom of the card. Visitors who spoke French, German, Spanish, Swedish, or Russian could read for themselves what was depicted in the stereograph.

stereograph009

Reverse of a stereograph card of Hollis Hall dormitories. Several cards with this historical description pasted to the back are present in our collection, and indication of just how common these types of cards were.

Other cards included a list of other available stereograph images. This card depicting a scene in Mount Auburn Cemetery is an example.

stereograph004

While difficult to make out, the design to either side included the description “Rural Cemeteries, United States.”  Based on information on the reverse, we know this is Mount Auburn Cemetery. Not dated. Publisher not specified.

stereograph005

Reverse of above. Someone, perhaps the original owner of this card, underlined “12. Lawn and Chapel” under Mount Auburn, Cambridge, indicating the subject of the photograph.

Unfortunately, many cards do not include any information at all to identify them. However, occasionally the original purchaser chose to identify the subject themselves, perhaps to help them remember their visit.

stereograph010

Memorial Hall, Harvard University. No identifying information is present on the front of this card.

stereograph011

Reverse of above. “Memorial Hall” “Harvard” Cambridge Mass. June 1874. A. F. F.

Interest in stereoscopy has continued to the present day. Tutorials on creating your own stereoscopic images are available online. So if you live in Cambridge and want to experience a little bit of time travel for yourself, give it a try and show us what you come up with!

Sources:

Victoria and Albert Museum

American Antiquarian Society

 

 

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.

flyer001

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.

flyer002

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_howes001

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.

program001

program002

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.

program003

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.

IMAG2709

IMAG2710

Before the tear is repaired

IMAG2713

Wheat starch paste

IMAG2712

Weighting the pasted tissue until dry

IMAG2714

After the tissue has dried

IMAG2717

Trimming the excess

IMAG2721

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.

IMG_90151_2

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.

portrait001

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

autograph_book1

autograph_book2

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_card001

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.

hoseiry_box.jpg

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.

squirrel-brand-box-img_20151222_112158.jpg

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_vase

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

badge

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.

building001

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.

auto_cylinder001

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 egonzalez@cambridgema.gov.