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.

Wolcott Gibbs circa 1895 (copy)

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.”

Wolcott Gibbs Memorial Laboratory - Vestibule

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!

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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!

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.

New Guest Post from our Mayor’s Youth

My Time Working as a Mayor’s Youth for the Commission

Hello, I’m Raimi. I am interning at the Cambridge Historical Commission for half of the summer of 2018, through the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program. I started to be interested in history during 6th grade, because that was the first year we had a real dedicated history class. That year we learned mostly about geography, pre-civilization humans, and the bronze age. Eventually my gaze fell upon history in the last 200 years or so, especially the Cold War, and very ancient history.

(This could be either of the two things I just mentioned)

(This could be either of the two things I just mentioned)

History is what I want to do with my life, and I’m glad I got this chance to work in an actual historical workplace. I deal with mostly filing and photocopying. One of the coolest projects was when I made a spreadsheet of almost 400 photo negatives, which took a little over 3 days to complete.

What I like best about interning here is that there is usually something new to do every day. To be specific, one day I might be photocopying entire books, and the next I could be filing away slides. My favorite artifact here at the CHC is this long petition for a new water source with over 2000 signatures, including one Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

A few facts about myself is that I have a cat named Moonlight, and a dog named Lola, but my favorite animal is the Venezuela Poodle Moth.

I enjoy reading, and my favorite book is Lirael by Garth Nix, but I would say the most well written book I’ve ever read is Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

Last thing I want to say is that if you’re in high school you can get job experience right now. It doesn’t even have to be a MYSEP job, it could just be volunteering at your school library. So don’t wait and start early.

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.

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“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.

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“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.

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“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.

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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.

Cambridge Open Archives

This year marked the 10th anniversary of Open Archives, and for over 2 weeks in June, 15 libraries and archives in Cambridge opened their doors to the public to show off selected items from their collections – all for free.

Folks who were unable to attend Open Archives might wonder: what is Open Archives, and what does it mean?

Cambridge Open Archives, sometimes called the Cambridge archives crawl, is a free event in which members of the public are invited behind the scenes at various Cambridge archives, libraries, and collecting institutions. It is a fun way to promote the unique collections of our city’s wonderful archives, while also raising awareness of historic materials, larger historic themes, and preservation.

Open Archives is also based on the belief that archives and collections should be free and open to everyone. The idea that information be free and accessible, that you can find out about a community’s history, or simply explore the holdings of a unique archive, is often still seen as a radical idea. We always hope that after Open Archives is over, attendees go back and make research appointments with some of the sites they visited.

Several cities around the country also participate in similar programs, including much larger events like the Archives Bazaar in Austin, Texas and Los Angeles.

(Above: Previous Open Archives events)

Cambridge Open Archives was started in Cambridge in 2010 by the former Cambridge Historical Society Executive Director, Gavin Kleespies (now Director of Programs at the Massachusetts Historical Society). Here’s what Kleespies has to say about the early days of Open Archives:

When it started, I had just moved back to Cambridge from Chicago and [was] in the process of getting re-acclimated. CHS was an institution that had a low public profile so I was going around the city and introducing myself and the Historical Society to organizations and community leaders. As a part of this, I met with Jim Shea and Anita Israel at the Longfellow House and Bree Harvey and Meg Winslow at Mount Auburn Cemetery. In both cases they invited me into their archives and pulled amazing examples from their collections. I thought, the Cambridge Historical Society has a great collection, but very few people use it and many people aren’t even sure it is available to them. Longfellow House and Mount Auburn have huge visitation numbers and are known across the country, but many people are unaware of the great archival collections they hold. It just struck me that there are these three great collections, that people would be really excited about if they saw them, but they just don’t come in contact with them. Then I thought, well, we’re basically all on the same street [Brattle], let’s just have a tour.

The first year was a lot of fun, so I started reaching out. I think CHC was added in the second year, but that was a little odd, since it was just on its own and was not walking distance to CHS, Longfellow or Mount Auburn. So I worked with Kit [Rawlins] and Charlie [Sullivan] and we came up with a group of city departments that had collections and were close to CHC. After that we put together a group to help plan the tour each year. Working with Alyssa [Pacy], Kit, Charlie and a group of other folks, we reached out to Harvard, MIT, churches and masons etc. I think at its largest, we had 13 institutions participating one year.

After the first year or so, Cambridge Open Archives began to be planned around a specific theme. Some of those themes have included “Adventures in Gastronomy,” which highlighted cooking and food themed collections, such as the Julia Child collection at the Schlesinger Library; “Cambridge in the 1860s”;  “Spaces: Profane and Sacred”; “Living and Dying in Cambridge”; and “New Acquisitions & Old Treasures.”

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Asked about one of his favorite past Open Archives themes, Kleespies talked about the MIT Lewis Music Library’s take on “Adventures in Gastronomy.” Kleespies was very interested in seeing how the Music Library would incorporate gastronomy into their collection presentations — food and music? But according to Kleespies, the Music Library’s archivist took the creative route and set up a whole “dinner table” complete with candles, tablecloth, and a full menu featuring different musical compositions, including the German Vegetable Orchestra.

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Since 2015, the staff here at the Cambridge Historical Commission have served as the coordinators of Cambridge Open Archives. This year, the Open Archives theme was “Archivists’/Curators’ Choice.” Staff from participating archives were encouraged to choose collections items that they loved or that possessed special meaning; that fit a certain theme within that specific archive or museum; or some of the more unique, bizarre, or interesting materials in their collections.

If you attended any of the Cambridge Open Archives repositories this year, feel free to comment on this blog with your thoughts, or send us any pictures you may have taken.

We hope you enjoyed this quick history of Open Archives, and hope to see you at next year’s event!