Archive for the ‘Cambridge Chronicle’ Category


Our Historic Cambridge Newspaper Collection was featured on the front page of last Thursday’s Cambridge Chronicle.  Thank you Cambridge Chronicle!

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18 April 1914 edition of the  Cambridge Chronicle.

Do you read the Cambridge Chronicle?  Have you ever used the Historic Cambridge Newspaper Collection?  We’re conducting a brief survey to learn about the ways that users read and access Cambridge news, specifically the Cambridge Chronicle.   Take our short, 10 question survey here.

Thank you for your participation!

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Invitation to the Graduation Exercises for the Class of 1865, Cambridge High School.

On July 14th, 1865, 43 students graduated from Cambridge High School.  The next day the Cambridge Chronicle covered the ceremony in detail.  Read all about it here.  After the ceremony, a dance was held.  The Cambridge Room recently acquired the invitation pictured above as well as a dance card.  See if you recognize any of the dances that all the 18 year olds knew in 1865.


Cambridge High School, Class of 1865 Dance Card, 14 July 1865.


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18 April 1914 edition of the  Cambridge Chronicle.

Do you read the Cambridge Chronicle?  Have you ever used the Historic Cambridge Newspaper Collection?  We’re conducting a brief survey to learn about the ways that users read and access Cambridge news, specifically the Cambridge Chronicle.   Take our short, 10 question survey here.

Thank you for your participation!

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In late 19th Century America, “blizzard” was a new word.  In 1881, when the Cambridge Chronicle decided to investigate it, the newspaper claimed that “blizzard” didn’t yet appear in any dictionary.  The Chronicle defines it is a word of Western origin, meaning “colder than blazes.”  It seems as if the Chronicle was having a little fun with its readers.   Yet, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “blizzard” wasn’t used to describe snow until it became a favorite word of journalists to describe the severe winter of 1880-81.

Read the Chronicle‘s February 26, 1881 tongue-in-cheek take on the word “blizzard.”  We promise it will make you laugh, especially given our snowy day today:   http://cambridge.dlconsulting.com/cgi-bin/cambridge?a=d&d=Chronicle18810226-01.2.30&srpos=11&dliv=none&e=——-en-20–1–txt-txIN-%22blizzard%22—–

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Tired of Summer? Tired of the muggy heat? Good! Because today we are going to pretend its winter.

While going through the vertical file the other week this item caught the eye.


The annual sleigh-ride of the Cambridge City Council? Yup, sleigh-ride. Sleigh rides were popular entertainment in the Victorian winter time. The Cambridge newspapers hold numerous postings about YMCA sleigh-rides, church sleigh-rides, women’s clubs and the city government.  Who would have known? Well not the archivist of the city papers because as a January 15, 1881 Cambridge Chronicle points out, the revels were “not to be printed with the city documents”.

And why is that? Well it seems like the good gentlemen of the city government had a little more fun than the average stoic Victorian male should.  The sleigh-ride consisted of men from the previous term of City Councilors, now relieved of the “cares of office” and free to celebrate with a sleigh-ride to Lexington.


The newspaper description of the 1881 revealed that before hand they drank so much “milk” that the landlord complained that “the cows were dry and the sleighs ready”. Off they went whisking away, loudly singing such songs as “Mary Had A Little Lamb”. They stopped for a rest and proceeded to draw up a resolution (they must not have remembered that they were no longer actively serving) to give themselves the title “Honorable” but half of them were too drunk to sign it. Finally when they were all sober again and had eaten the listened to each other give speeches. After which were numerous dances and no doubt more to drink.

The journalist writes

…the small hours came round unnoticed, till finally few had strength left to even laugh aloud, but their faces had gotten so fixed in position that they were left at their various houses sometime toward morning still smiling over the frolic of the City Government of 1880.

The City Government of 1886 must have learned what sort of press bad behavior got their predecessors and the accounting of their sleigh-ride festivities is less than thrilling. They left on time, had a “smoking hot supper” and “reached Cambridge on their return at good Puritan hours” recounts the Cambridge Chronicle. Perhaps it just became too dull a tradition to maintain…

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Cambridge has many institutions.  Some have survived, others have fallen by the wayside. There’s a few I would not mind bringing back. One being, The Cambridge Club’s Ladies’ Night.

The Cambridge Club was formed in October of 1879 and sought “to promote literary and social culture among its members”.  The groups meetings spanned such topics as “The Car Problem in Harvard Square” (1887) to “The Worth of Women’s Education” (1901) to “My Winter in North Greenland” a 1925 presentation by Donald B. MacMillan, an American explorer. In fact, (at least according to the Cambridge Club’s view of history) it was a discussion at the Cambridge Club on the needs of the Cambridge Public Library that convinced Frederick H. Rindge to build the structure that still stands today.


Young’s Hotel, 1910 via wikimedia.org

Unfortunately, like so many of the institutions of that time period however, somehow those goals did not regularly include women. However, the last spring meeting of each year was Ladies’ Night. This included a huge dinner at Young’s Hotel in Boston as well as a lecture or perhaps music. In 1917 the Ladies’ Night included a talk and lantern-slide show on poor housing conditions in Boston and Cambridge while in 1898 it was a female soloist and a male “humorist”, known nowadays as a comedian.

The Cambridge Chronicle of 1893 stated that the hotel’s “large dining hall was none too large” since the guests that year included 75 male members almost all with a lady.

Young's Hotel Dining Room, 1910 via wikimedia.org

Young’s Hotel Dining Room, 1910 via wikimedia.org

In 1886, those tables were arrayed with foods from mock turtle soup, Roast Philadelphia Capon, Croquettes of lobster a la Cardinal and Banana Fritters, oh and Charlotte Russe, which lo and behold is a dessert in addition to a junior-sized clothing store. Below is the  menu for the 1886 Ladies’ Night from the Cambridge History Room’s Collection.

Sweets and Desserts?!?! Count me in.

Sweets and Desserts?!?! Count me in.

An menu from the Ladies’ Night in 1889 held by the NYPL shows roughly the same food but it seems that when the men dined alone they were a little more (by their standards) reserved. This undated menu someone has placed on Flickr shows a slightly less robust menu both food wise and decoration.

But the men of Victorian Cambridge had other means of entertainment. Read about an annual Cambridge City Council tradition from the time.

For more information check out The Cambridge Club, 1879 – 1939 at the Cambridge History Room or search the Cambridge Newspapers from the era online at Cambridge Public Library’s Historic Cambridge Newspaper Collection.

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Cambridge Chronicle, 8 October 1921.

For those of you who haven’t had a chance to peruse the 60 page anniversary edition of the Cambridge Chronicle, published on October 8, 1921, you’re in for a treat.

In addition to the front page congratulatory letter from President Warren Harding, there is:

There are also these little historical gems:

Explore away!

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Alma Boudreau was a Trustee of the Cambridge Public Library for over 50 years. She began her tenure in 1938. The Boudreau Branch is named in her honor.

Those of us of a certain age remember all too well the card catalog.  Thanks to digitization and online catalogs, the card catalog has become obsolete.

The Cambridge Room just finished digitizing its newspaper subject and obituary cards.  They have been added to the historic Cambridge newspaper database, found here: http://cambridge.dlconsulting.com/.  There are over 50,000 cards, covering the years 1950 to 2008.

Because we can’t digitize and make available newspapers that were published after 1922, we have made available the subject cards.  You will still have to come to the library to look up any article you find in the subject cards.  However, this addition to the newspaper database will save you enormous amounts of time.

Search Tips

1. When you’re searching for an obituary (and you know it falls in the 1950-2008 time period), you can narrow the results on the left hand side of the search results page, under “category” by clicking on “card.” Try searching by last name, like here.

2.  You can also search by full name without quotation marks, like here.

3.  Search by name and year (if you know it), like here.

4.  Search by subjects, like “Area IV” or “Area Four.”  Use quotation marks.

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A ceremony on Friday marking the end of a 5,125-year cycle in the Mayan calendar at Tikal, the ancient Mayan city in northern Guatemala, courtesy of the New York Times.

The world didn’t end on December 21, 2012 as predicted by many in response to the end of a long cycle in the Mayan calendar.  History is littered with similar apocalyptic predictions.  So much so that even the Cambridge Chronicle would respond with humor.  From the September 28, 1861 edition:

THE END OF THE WORLD, postponed from 1843, is to take place on Saturday, the 12th of October, a fortnight from to-day, at least so say the Millerites. Unless the end comes before breakfast in the morning, we shall publish the Chronicle as usual on that day.

**Thanks to Dan Sullivan for finding the column.**

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