Business Card, circa late Nineteenth Century, from the Cambridge Vertical File (051).

The inaugural issue of the Hard Times Bulletin, describing the anger felt by the death of teenager Larry Largey  while in police custody from the collection of the Cambridge Newsletters and Newspapers (052).

Radical Newsletters:  An Exhibition

Exhibition Location: 2nd Floor of the Main Library

Cambridge has a history of activism, especially during the turbulent 1960s and 1970s when political debates and protest around police brutality, racism, and rent control took center stage.

In later decades, activism turned towards issues of homelessness and scientific testing, although rent control continued to occupy Cambridge’s political scene.

This exhibition shows examples of newsletters that grew out of Cambridge activism. From the inaugural issue of Spare Change News, a newspaper created by the homeless, to the anti-rent control publication, Eagle’s Eye, these newsletters capture the zeitgeist of the city.

An anti-rent control newsletter from the early 1990s.


The inaugural issue of Spare Change.



From the Cambridge Vertical File (051), Businesses, Crest Manufacturing Company.

Between 1901 and 1904 the Crest Manufacturing Company built cars.  The company was located at 424 Massachusetts Avenue and later at 190 Broadway.

From Postcards (028).

The Howard Johnson’s in Cambridge used to be located at 529 Memorial Drive, which is on MIT’s campus.  Does anyone remember dining there?  Bonus points if you ate in the Bermuda Room!


Nelson W. Ambush, Cantabrigian and Civil Rights Activist, from the 1987 Worcester – Keeping the Dream Alive calendar, Nelson W. Ambush Papers (071).

The Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the Nelson W. Ambush Papers are now available for research.  

Nelson William Ambush was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on October 23, 1915 to Charles Gillette and Emma Elizabeth (Steems) Ambush.  He graduated from Rindge Technical High School in 1934 where he was a member of the Drum Corps and track team.  In 1941, Ambush moved to Worcester, Massachusetts to pursue his career as a dental technician.

Ambush was active in the civil rights movement for which he received numerous awards.  In 1944, he assisted in re-activating the Worcester Branch of the NAACP, and went on to hold every office in the organization.  In 1957, he represented New England at the Prayer Pilgrimage to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. He was a frequent speaker at colleges, high schools, churches, and community gatherings on the subject of civil rights and the legacy of Dr. King.  Later, he assisted dozens of Kenyans in relocating to New England and helping them graduate college.

Ambush was active in several civic and social organizations, including the Cambridge Community Center Forum, the William Monroe Trotter Club, the Dunbar Club, the Cub Scouts of the Mohegan Council, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Committee, and the Advisory Council on the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.  He also served in leadership positions in several churches.

Ambush was married to Shigao Gladys Sato for 43 years with whom he had five children:  Karen R. Thande, Reverend Stephen B. Ambush, Kathy G. Smith, June E. Ambush, Benjamin S. Ambush.  He was married to Mary Estelle (Hazzard) Harden for 23 years.  Ambush died on March 5, 2012.

Broadside by Robert Creeley, 1970.

Seasonal Greetings:  A Holiday Broadside Exhibition

Exhibition Location: L2 during Special Events and 2nd Floor of the Main Library

There is a tradition among publishers and writers to send holiday and year-end greetings with meditations from their work relevant to the season.

The exhibition features a small sampling of these types of greetings in broadside and chapbook format, from letter press workshops, poetry societies, poets, and artists. Two of these items were not intended as greetings, but nonetheless present content which is consistent with seasonal greetings of this tradition. They range in theme from the whimsical to nature, love, and more serious thoughts.

**Special thank you to Dan Wuenschel, who curated the exhibition from his personal collection.


From the 1897 Cambridge Election, Cambridge Election and Campaign File (055).

Vote, Vote, Vote:  Cambridge Campaign History

Exhibition Location: L2 during Special Events and 2nd Floor of the Main Library

Stop by to see historic Cambridge candidate campaign literature.  We’ve chosen some of our favorites, spanning the elections of 1897 to 1981, in honor of the November 3, 2015 municipal elections.


Bumper sticker from the 1981 Cambridge Election.  Cambridge Campaign and Election File (055).


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