75th Anniversary Banquet Dinner of the Economy Club of Cambridge, 24 November 1947.

We are pleased to announce that the Economy Club of Cambridge Records, 1872-1988 are now available for research.

The Economy Club of Cambridge was a social, debating, and diner club founded in 1872. Its membership was long restricted to men who lived in Cambridge and its original purpose as a “non-sectarian and non-political” group was the study and discussion of economic, social, political, and historical questions.

On November 6, 1872, Clarence H. Blake, William Pearson, Clair Whittemore, and George Whittemore formed a secret society called the Four Socials for the purpose of “social intercourse and also to improve in Literature.” Four Socials was limited to the four originating members who met in each other’s homes. The following year, two additional members were invited to join and the name of the secret society was changed to the Mutual League of Friendship. The fortnight dinner meetings were dedicated to reciting literature, singing, and listening to music. In the fall of 1876, the club held its first “Ladies’ Night”, and in 1878, the club adopted the motto, “Commune Bonum,” meaning the common good.

The club remained a secret society until 1879, when the Mutual League of Friendship became a debating society and meetings took place in halls like the Prospect House or the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Hall rather than in member’s homes.

In 1885, the society adopted a new name, the Economy Club of Cambridge. The 75th Anniversary Program of the Economy Club of Cambridge (1947) defines the meaning of the club’s new name as: “the word ’economy’ being understood as it is used today in schools which teach Economics.”

Debating became the foundation for the meetings and topics ranged from the local (such as the abolition of Cambridge’s Common Council) to the international (such as the Panama Canal). The club held joint debates with similar, local societies such as the Cambridge Prohibition Club, the Young Men’s Republican Club of Somerville, and the Harvard Democratic Club. Guest speakers delivered lectures and scientists gave demonstrations. In 1911, the Economy Club of Cambridge openly supported the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) move from Boston to Cambridge.

Membership has included state and city officials, judges, academics, business people, and professionals. By 2009, the once large membership (over 100) membership had dwindled dramatically to 15 active members. The club continued to meet six times each year at the MIT Faculty Club for drinks, dinner, and the presentation of a guest speaker.

Collection Overview
The collection contains records of the Economy Club of Cambridge including the organization’s founding documents and subsequent amendments; business records and ledgers; bank checks, bank statements, and check registers; membership applications; meeting programs (that include dinner menus), including anniversary events; book of resolutions (labeled “roll book”); correspondence; minute books; two scrapbooks; and three photographs. It also includes two record books kept when the club went by the name “Mutual League of Friendship.”

Copyright, Jeffrey Dunn.

We’re excited to give you a preview of our newest acquisition, photographs by longtime Cambridge photographer Jeffrey Dunn.  Once the collection has been made available online, we will let you know.


Did you know that the Cambridge Room has made available over 350 digital items from our collections?  You can easily search and browse them on our new Flickr site.  Be sure to check back often because we add more digital items all the time.  As always, we will announce new digital collections here first.



Did you know that the Cambridge Room has 145 unique collections and is growing?   The descriptions of these collections are now easily searchable on our new database.  You can keyword search or browse by collection or subject.  Be sure to check back, we add more collections to the database all the time.  And, we always announce new collections here.

The Cambridge Room collections focus on the social and political history of Cambridge from the mid twentieth century to the present.


Harvard Square Development Taskforce, 1972, Cornelia B. Wheeler Papers (061)

The Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the Cornelia B. Wheeler Papers are now available for research.

Cornelia B. Wheeler, née Balch, was born in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, on September 3, 1909. She was one of six children of Franklin G. and Lucy (Bowditch) Balch. She was married to Leonard Wheeler from 1929 until his death in 1995. They lived in Cambridge throughout their marriage and had four children.

Wheeler was very active in Cambridge politics and civic life from the 1930s through the 1990s. She was elected to three terms on the Cambridge City Council (1964-65; 1966-67; 1968-69). After leaving the Council, she organized a citizens group that was involved in the development planning for Harvard Square. She donated a substantial amount of money for the Wheeler Water Garden in Danehy Park in Cambridge and it bears her name. Wheeler died on August 14, 2005.

Collection Overview
This collection documents the work of Cornelia B. Wheeler. The collection reflects Councillor Wheeler’s work on and off the Council. It includes extensive material regarding the Harvard Square Development Taskforce. Records also include meeting agendas, clippings, project material (e.g. Bennett Street Yard; Red Line Extension; parking; traffic; zoning); correspondence, and notes.


Stone arrowhead from Georgia and North or South Carolina, Charles F. Walcott Archaeological Collection (029).

The Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the Charles F. Walcott Archaeological Collection is open to research.  The objects have been digitized and made available here.

Charles Folsom Walcott was born in Cambridge on May 14, 1904 to Charles F. Walcott (1875-unknown) and Martha S. Enstos Walcott (ca. 1878-unknown). Walcott, Jr. is a graduate of Harvard College (1926) and Harvard Medical School (1931). Walcott was a general practitioner in Cambridge from 1933 until his retirement in 1986. Walcott was an assistant in medicine at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital until 1944 and an associate physician at Mount Auburn Hospital from 1936 to 1968. He also taught at the Haynes Memorial Contagious Hospital in Roxbury and was a clinical assistant at the medical schools at Boston and Harvard Universities. Walcott’s hobbies were birding and collecting Native American arrowheads, many of which he found in Concord, Massachusetts. He was a member of the Nuttall Ornithological Society and Massachusetts Archaeology Society. His pioneering study of 50 years of bird life in Cambridge, “Changes in Bird Life in Cambridge, Massachusetts From 1860 to 1864,” was published in the Auk, the American Ornithologist Union’s quarterly (volume 91, number 1, 1974).

He married Susan Cabot Walcott (1907-1998) and they had two sons Charles and Benjamin. The Walcott family lived on Sparks Street in Cambridge, where he conducted his famous bird study, until moving to Hancock, New Hampshire. The Walcott’s also had a summer home in North Haven, Maine.

Walcott died on July 1, 1989. Both he and his wife, Susan, are buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Collection Overview
Items came stored in a small gift box. The box contained a small curated collection of Native American archeological artifacts composed of 11 separate envelopes and 2 boxes. Each envelope was numbered, each object within had a numerical label, and the short descriptive label cards inside the envelopes both had the same numeric value assigned to the outer envelope. In total, the items were divided into 13 groups designed to be a small exhibition that was put on display at the Observatory Hill Branch Library (now the Boudreau Branch). No documentation exists to provide evidence as to how most of the objects came into Dr. Walcott’s possession, though he found a few of the items himself at Cambridge’s Fresh Pond in the 1960s and 70s and labeled them as such.

The Charles F. Walcott Archaeological Collection was a gift from Dr. Charles F. Walcott to the Cambridge Public Library sometime in the late 1970s, early 1980s. Items include a variety of Native American tools and implements, mainly arrowheads but also scraping tools for wood, gun flint, quartz, a stone drill, bone, and felcite. Not much is known about the individual items other than what little accompanying information was included – usually at most a single sentence. Some of the items are identified as having come from the American South West, South America, Georgia, and the Carolinas.

The only outlier to the Native American objects in the collection is a box containing two bullets and a minie ball from the Battle of Antietam.

Also accompanying the box is a wooden plaque from a painting of Dr. Walcott’s father, Charles F. Walcott, Sr. A portrait was commissioned, however the location of said portrait is unknown.

The Abstract Painting, 1985, Arnold, Dorothy Art Journals (035)

The Abstract Painting, 1985, Arnold, Dorothy Art Journals (035)

The Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the Dorothy Arnold Art Journals, 1938-2010  are now available for research. A curated selection of journal pages have been digitized and made available here.

Dorothy (Quincy Warren) Arnold was born to Dorothy Thorndike and Bentley Warren in 1924. She grew up in Massachusetts, first in Brookline and later in Manchester-By-the-Sea.  Arnold attended high school at the Beaver Country Day School in Chestnut Hill, Mass., graduating in 1939.  In 1943, Dorothy married David B. Arnold, Jr. (b. 1921) and had three children, David B. Arnold, III (b.?), Dorothy T. Arnold (b. 1945), and Virginia W. Arnold (b. 1947).  The Arnold Family lived in Concord, Mass. until Dorothy and David moved to Boston in 1994.

In 1956, Dorothy, known as “Doffie,” and her husband, David, began traveling extensively. David was the marketing director for Shipley Company in Newton, Mass. and he was responsible for visiting clients around the United States and the world.  Doffie often accompanied her husband and began documenting their trips by writing, drawing, and painting in journals.  After raising her family, she attended the Museum School of Fine Arts, Boston, graduating in 1980, and became an artist fulltime.

Arnold worked in landscape, abstraction, and figurative genres, and she specialized in ink and paper drawings, watercolor paintings, and oil paintings that were often large-scale. Arnold used the impasto technique and incorporated found objects such as glass, beads, and paper into her paintings.[1] Whitney Museum Curator Elizabeth Sussman describes Arnold’s work as a dialogue “between image and process, between drawing and painting, between abstraction and figuration.”[2]  According to Arnold, “The rhythms of nature have always influenced not only what I paint but how I paint. Be it sky, clouds, trees, or water, my hand and my body must become a part of the rhythm.”[3]

Arnold wanted to create cooperative and sustainable housing for serious artists and developed the Bent Street Artists Association, seven units from a run-down machinery storage facility at 243 Bent Street (the corner of Bent Street and Fifth Street) in East Cambridge, Mass. Arnold had an open door policy at her studio and it became her “clubhouse,” according to her son, David B. Arnold, III. She was active in the Cambridge community and invited students from across the city to her studio.  Arnold was the inspiration behind the Cambridge Creativity Commons, a Cambridge-based organization founded in 2011 bridging the gap between arts and science to offer STEAM programs to Cambridge students, and her studio was the organization’s home base for several years.  The 2014 Putnum Avenue Upper School Creative Journaling Project featured student-made art journals based on Arnold’s journal archive.  In addition to working with aspiring young artists in her studio, Arnold supported the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Lyric Opera, and gun control efforts.

Arnold’s work has been exhibited in solo and group shows in galleries across the United States, Europe, Asia, and Africa, and is featured in many corporate and museum collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the DeCordova Museum, the First National Bank of Boston, the Copley Society, WGBH, and the Massachusetts General Hospital.  Arnold has received numerous awards, including a Massachusetts Artist Fellowship in 1990.  In 2002, a retrospective of Arnold’s work began in Germany, traveled to Russia and Italy, ended in the United States.  In 2007, Arnold’s landscape, “Lime Rocks,” was featured in a temporary exhibit at the U.S. embassy in Yaoundé, Cameroon as part of the Art in Embassies Program.[4]

By 2010, two major changes happened in Arnold’s life.  She stopped painting because of advancing dementia.  And, the once industrial wasteland of the East Cambridge neighborhood where the Bent Street Artists Association is located began to be developed for commercial, government, and private use. The owners of the Association began to stray from the serious artist criteria. The provision was dropped as a requirement around 2011 and artists no longer began to occupy the space. As Arnold’s life changed and she could no longer maintain her studio, her family began the Doffie Project in 2013 as a way to honor her legacy, distribute her artwork at affordable prices, and raise money for charities.  Eighty percent of the profit from each sale went to the buyer’s choice of organization; 20% financed administrative costs.  Over two years, the Doffie Project raised $225,000 for a variety of charities, including the YMCA, the Charles River Conservancy, and the Home for Little Wanderers.  Arnold’s family sold the Bent Street studio in 2014.[5]  According to her son, David Arnold III, the studio was her greatest loss with the onset of dementia.

Works Cited:
[1] Dorothy Arnold | deCordova. (n.d.). Retrieved October 21, 2016, from http://www.decordova.org/dorothy-arnold
[2] Department of State – Art in Embassies. (n.d.). Retrieved October 21, 2016, from http://art.state.gov/artistdetail.aspx?id=101368
[3] Dorothy Arnold | deCordova. (n.d.). Retrieved October 21, 2016, from http://www.decordova.org/dorothy-arnold
[4] Department of State – Art in Embassies. (n.d.). Retrieved October 21, 2016, from http://art.state.gov/artistdetail.aspx?id=101368
[5] Archetto, DeAnna, “Bidding Adieu to Doffie’s studio in Cambridge,” Cambridge Chronicle, 27 November 2013.

Collection Overview
This collection contains the art journals of Dorothy Arnold, documenting her life and travels.   In 1938, Arnold began writing in journal, in 1958 began painting in journals. Spanning 62 years from 1938 to 2010, the journals document her trips to numerous countries across six continents.

The journals represent Arnold’s artistic evolution and they include her personal thoughts on art, her daily observations of life, and diary-like entries.  Many of Arnold’s sketches, drawings, and paintings were early versions of much larger works she would create on canvas.  Included in the journals are color classifications that Arnold assembled, showing her attention to studying and selecting colors.

Arnold’s art work is not limited to specific subjects and genres. From landscape to still life and from figurative images to abstractions, Arnold’s wide-ranging subject matter presents how explorative and experimental she was in pursuing her work.  While the inner world of emotions is shown in her abstract paintings, her use of colors are well presented in the landscapes and portraits.

Series 1:  Art Diaries, 1938-2010 contains Dorothy Arnold’s art journals.  The journals from 1938-1957 are in diary format with no artwork.  Arnold’s 1958 journal is the first journal with artwork.  Later journals, from 2000-2010, contain photographs of Arnold’s artwork, exhibitions, family, and friends.  There are also photographs that document her travels.

Series 2:  Art Supplies and Video Tape contains 6 examples (4 brushes, 1 spatula, and 1 baster) of the kinds of brushes and art supplies that Arnold used.