The Library Takes First Prize: 1975 4th of July Parade

Poster from the Cambridge Bicentennial Corporation Records.

The United States Bicentennial was a significant event in the city of Cambridge. Planning for the two-year celebration began in 1971 and was managed by the Cambridge Bicentennial Corporation. One of the corporation’s major events was the “Great Cambridge Parade,” held on July 4, 1975, to mark the 200th anniversary of General George Washington taking command of the Continental Army in Cambridge.

The festivities were extensive: Minutemen units, bands, floats, and ceremonial military units. Heading the parade was Richard B. Washington, a descendant of George Washington’s brother, John.

The Cambridge Public Library won first prize for their float called, “Ethnicity,” which “celebrates the city’s wide and diverse ethnic population and the rich customs they keep alive.”

The poster and photographs come from the Cambridge Bicentennial Corporation Records, which are housed at the Cambridge Public Library’s Archives and Special Collections.

Recording Available – Reading the Gravestones of Old Cambridge

We were fortunate to have John Hanson, expert on early New England epitaphs and bibliophile, give the lecture Reading the Gravestones of Old Cambridge. The talk, part of the Spring Lecture Series from the Cambridge Room, was recorded on June 8, 2022.

The following is a description of the workshop and a short bio of John Hanson:

The burial grounds of old New England hold a wonderful range of poetic messages in the epitaphs carved on their gravestones, each a profound expression of emotion, culture, religion, and literature.  Too often dismissed as mere sentimental doggerel, these passages can be fascinating and well worth paying attention to.  After all, every single epitaph was chosen, deliberately, on an occasion of the utmost gravity and importance, the death of a parent or child or spouse or neighbor.  Join John Hanson, expert on early New England epitaphs, as he shares some outstanding verses on old stones in Cambridge’s Old Burying Ground.  He will reveal their sources of inspiration, including Scripture, hymnody, poetry, and epitaphs made-to-order for a particular individual.  We will consider what these very personal choices tell us about early New Englanders’ attitudes towards life, death, and eternity.

John Hanson has been collecting early New England epitaphs for years, examining where the verses originated, how their source texts were accessed, and the spiritual and commercial context in which they were chosen and carved on gravestones.  He is the author of Reading the Gravestones of Old New England (McFarland, 2021), and has published and spoken extensively on his research.  Hanson is a Massachusetts native, and lives in Cambridge and the Berkshires.  His book, Reading the Gravestones of Old New England, can be ordered directly from the publisher or from Amazon.

The Black Population of Cambridge by Census Year, 1790 – 2020

George Washington Lewis Jr. family at 47 Parker
Street. Photo ca. 1900. The Lewis Family, a large extended family, were a well known African American family who first established roots in Cambridge in the early 19th Century.
Census Year Total PopulationNumber of Black ResidentsPercent of Population
17902,115602.8%
18002,453251.0%
18102,32339*1.7%
18203,295531.6%
18306,072791.3%
18408,409770.9%
185015,215140**0.9%
186026,0603541.3%
187039,6348222.1%
188052,6691,5042.9%
189070,0281,9882.8%
190091,8863,8884.2%
1910104,8394,7074.5%
1920109,6945,3344.9%
1930113,6435,4194.8%
1940110,8794,8584.4%
1950120,7405,2804.4%
1960107,7165,6715.3%
1970100,3616,7836.8%
198095,32210,41810.9%
199095,80212,93013.5%
2000101,35512,07911.9%
2010105,16212,25311.7%
2020118,40812,52010.6%

*includes West Cambridge (1 person)
*includes 41 listed as Mulatto and 99 listed as Black

Citations:
1790, 1800, 1820, 1840, 1860, 1880, 1900, 1920, 1940, 1960, 1980, 2000: from Slavery and Its Aftermath in Cambridge by Charles Sullivan, Executive Director, Cambridge Historical Commission, 13 January 2021. Available here: https://www.cambridgema.gov/-/media/Files/citymanagersoffice/monumentsadvisorycommittee/Slavery_and_its_Aftermath_in_Cambridge.pdf.

1810: Total from column, “all other free persons except Indians not taxed,” in 1810 census

1830: Total from column, “free colored persons,” in 1830 census

1850: Counted total from race column in the 1850 census

1870: Census totaled from race column in the 1870 census. Column totaled as “colored” and includes Black and Mulatto. Ward 1: 87; Ward 2: 626; Ward 3: 9; Ward 4: 82; Ward 5: 18. Total 822.

1890: Compendium of the Eleventh Census: 1890, Part I Population, Department of the Interior, Census Office, 1892. Cambridge is on page 552. Available here: https://www.google.com/books/edition/Compendium_of_the_Eleventh_Census_1890_P/L2tVWSA9xUAC?hl=en&gbpv=1

1900-1910: Negro population in the United States, 1790-1915, edited by William Loren Katz, 1968. Available here: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=pst.000053752499&view=1up&seq=104&skin=2021&size=125&q1=cambridge1950: https://www2.census.gov/library/publications/decennial/1950/population-volume-2/38840572v2p21ch4.pdf.

1910-1930: Negroes in the United States, 1920-1932, by United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1935. Available here: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiug.30112047636300&view=1up&seq=83&size=125&q1=cambridge

1970: 1970 Census of Population, Characteristics of the Population, Massachusetts, 1973. Available here: https://www2.census.gov/prod2/decennial/documents/1970a_ma-01.pdf

1990: Comparison of Cambridge, MA. U. S. Census Short Form Results:
1980, 1990 & 2000
, Cambridge Community Development, 17 May 2004. Available here: https://www.cambridgema.gov/-/media/Files/CDD/FactsandMaps/PopulationData/Citywide/census_1980to2000_sf1_comp.pdf

2010: Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010
Demographic Profile Data
, U.S. Census Bureau, 27 June 2011. Available here: https://www.cambridgema.gov/-/media/Files/CDD/FactsandMaps/PopulationData/Citywide/census_2010_sf1_profile.pdf

2020: Cambridge: Population and People, U.S. Census Bureau. Available here: https://data.census.gov/cedsci/profile?g=1600000US2511000

Cambridge Population: From Cambridge, Massachusetts Wikipedia Page, Demographics. Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambridge,_Massachusetts#Demographics

Register Now for Reading the Gravestones of Old Cambridge

Date & Time:
June 8, 2022
12:00pm – 1:00pm
Virtual
REGISTER HERE

The burial grounds of old New England hold a wonderful range of poetic messages in the epitaphs carved on their gravestones, each a profound expression of emotion, culture, religion, and literature.  Too often dismissed as mere sentimental doggerel, these passages can be fascinating and well worth paying attention to.  After all, every single epitaph was chosen, deliberately, on an occasion of the utmost gravity and importance, the death of a parent or child or spouse or neighbor.  Join John Hanson, expert on early New England epitaphs, as he shares some outstanding verses on old stones in Cambridge’s Old Burying Ground.  He will reveal their sources of inspiration, including Scripture, hymnody, poetry, and epitaphs made-to-order for a particular individual.  We will consider what these very personal choices tell us about early New Englanders’ attitudes towards life, death, and eternity.

John Hanson has been collecting early New England epitaphs for years, examining where the verses originated, how their source texts were accessed, and the spiritual and commercial context in which they were chosen and carved on gravestones.  He is the author of Reading the Gravestones of Old New England (McFarland, 2021), and has published and spoken extensively on his research.  Hanson is a Massachusetts native, and lives in Cambridge and the Berkshires.  Hanson is the author of Reading the Gravestones of Old New England and can be ordered directly from the publisher or from Amazon.

The Beauty of Book Binding and Decoration: Linked Spine Bindings

Date & Time:
May 11, 2022
7:00pm – 8:30pm
In Person
REGISTER HERE

Join book conservator, Sam Ellenport, for a talk on the history of linked spine bindings.  His illustrated talk will explore a little known aspect of bookbinding decoration, used on sets of books.  The binder makes use of the entire rectangle comprised of all the spines as a canvas on which to produce an overall design, whether representational or abstract. 

Sam Ellenport has been a hand-bookbinder since he bought The Harcourt Bindery in Boston over 40 years ago.  Trained as an historian, Sam has written and lectured about the history of the craft throughout the country.  He is a passionate collector of books about binding.  Committed to education, Sam helped establish the bookbinding program at the North Bennet Street School in 1986, and remains an advisor.  He has served in various positions among book-related organizations.  As a witness to the great sea-change occurring today in the book arts, Sam remains a defender of the classic aesthetic developed around the physical book.

Central to It All: A Look at Central Square, the Nightclub ManRay, and Twenty Years of Change

Date & Time:
April 27, 2022
7:00pm – 8:30pm
In Person
REGISTER HERE

Central Square in the 1980s was at the jumping-off point for a new beginning. Shops, restaurants, and long-standing businesses lined the square. However, the one area that was expanding greatly was in the realm of nightlife. Venues such as the Middle East, The Cantab Lounge, and T.T the Bears were bringing in both local and national performing artists. Joining these venues was a nightclub, Campus, on 21 Brookline St. In 1985, that space became ManRay. A nightclub that promoted what they called the “Art of Nightlife.” ManRay promoted dance nights for many cultures, sub-cultures, and scenes such as Goth, Industrial, Fetish, New Wave, and those in the LBGTQIA communities. Like the other music venues in the square, ManRay had a dynamic roster of artists and bands that performed there that included Divine, Peter Murphy, KMFDM, Sleep Chamber, and, most notably, Nirvana. 

Join Shawn Driscoll, author of We are But Your Children:  An Oral History of the Nightclub Manray (2021), us for a look into Central Square during the years of ManRay’s existence. Through presentation and a rich panel of speakers, we will explore the years of 1983 to 2006 and witness the growth and dynamic change within the square, through the lens of ManRay and its twenty years at 21 Brookline Street. Joining Driscoll will be:

Terri Niedzwiecki–Longtime Bartender, ManRay
MJ Pullins–Proprietor, Hubba Hubba
Emily Sweeney–Boston Globe Journalist, ManRay Attendee
Tony Lee (DJ Arcanus)–DJ (ManRay, Ceremony) ManRay Attendee
David “Daisy” Crowder–Bartender, ManRay

Recording Available – Democratizing Book Collecting: The First Bibliophiles of Cambridge

We were fortunate to have Drew Griffin, the Library’s Senior Librarian for Adult Services and bibliophile, join us for a lively and informative workshop titled, Democratizing Book Collecting: The First Bibliophiles of Cambridge. The workshop, part of the Spring Lecture Series from the Cambridge Room, was recorded on April 13, 2022.

The following is a description of the workshop and a short bio of Drew Griffin:

Democratizing Book Collecting: The First Bibliophiles of Cambridge
Join Drew Griffin, Senior Librarian at the Cambridge Public Library, as he delves into the history of book collection in Cambridge. By 1850 two of the finest book collections in the Boston area were located within half a mile of one another on Mass Ave between Central and Harvard Squares.  The two bibliophiles, Thomas Dowse and George Livermore, show a distinctly American approach to book collecting.  Unlike their British peers they came from humble backgrounds, didn’t attended college, and emphasized the democratic nature of their bookish pursuits by opening their libraries to the public (Dowse) and writing articles on book collecting for the nascent Cambridge Chronicle (Livermore).

Drew Griffin has worked at the Cambridge Public Library for the past 15 years in various capacities.  Since 2016, he has served as Senior Librarian in the Adult Services Department.  Drew’s area of expertise is genealogy and rare book librarianship.   Over the past 3 years, Drew has taught many of the Library’s popular genealogy workshops, including beginner’s genealogy and DNA testing and genealogical research.  Also, in his spare time, Drew is an avid rare book collector.  He is a member several bibliophile clubs, including the Grolier Club in New York City and the Ticknor Society in Boston. 


Democratizing Book Collecting: The First Bibliophiles of Cambridge

Date & Time:
April 13, 2022
12:00pm – 1:00pm
Virtual
REGISTER HERE

Join Drew Griffin, Senior Librarian at the Cambridge Public Library, as he delves into the history of book collection in Cambridge. By 1850 two of the finest book collections in the Boston area were located within half a mile of one another on Mass Ave between Central and Harvard Squares.  The two bibliophiles, Thomas Dowse and George Livermore, show a distinctly American approach to book collecting.  Unlike their British peers they came from humble backgrounds, didn’t attended college, and emphasized the democratic nature of their bookish pursuits by opening their libraries to the public (Dowse) and writing articles on book collecting for the nascent Cambridge Chronicle (Livermore).

Drew Griffin has worked at the Cambridge Public Library for the past 15 years in various capacities.  Since 2016, he has served as Senior Librarian in the Adult Services Department.  Drew’s area of expertise is genealogy and rare book librarianship.   Over the past 3 years, Drew has taught many of the Library’s popular genealogy workshops, including beginner’s genealogy and DNA testing and genealogical research.  Also, in his spare time, Drew is an avid rare book collector.  He is a member several bibliophile clubs, including the Grolier Club in New York City and the Ticknor Society in Boston. 

Register for Old House Dos and Don’ts

Date & Time:
April 6, 2022
12:00pm – 1:00pm
Virtual
REGISTER HERE

Old Houses Dos and Don’ts.
As times change so do the needs and desires of families when it comes to modern living. Historic homes are often altered to realize these dreams, but it can be hard to know how to make changes that are sensitive to the existing character of the house. This online lecture defines “preservation” and how to apply its tenets effectively to old homes.  Learn tips on how to read changes that have been made to old houses and identify those that were successful and those that weren’t.  Discover ideas for how to recapture the historic character of an old house as well as improve its energy efficiency.  Join us for this lecture presented by Elizabeth Paliga, Preservation Services Manager for Historic New England.

Register for Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and Your Family Photos: Identifying African American Family Photos

Date & Time:
March 9, 2022
12:00pm – 1:00pm
Virtual
REGISTER HERE

Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and Your Family Photos: Identifying African American Family Photos
Join us for a workshop presented by Maureen Taylor, an internationally recognized expert on historic photograph identification and family history research, as we delve into the history of African American family portraits.  Photo clues can be obvious or subtle from who’s in the picture to what’s being worn and who took the picture. We’ll explore the 5 basic questions to ask about your photos and how to figure out the story in the image.  This interactive lecture will help you discover identity and connections to your family that you never knew you had.

Maureen Taylor is an internationally recognized expert on historic photograph identification, photo preservation and family history research.  Sought out by clients all over the world, her pioneering work in historic research is unprecedented, evidenced by her success in solving photo mysteries.  The author of several books, scholarly articles and online columns, Taylor appeared on the View and the Today Show to discuss her photo identification methods.  She has been featured in numerous publications, including the Boston Globe, New York Times, and Better Homes and Gardens, and was dubbed “the nation’s foremost historical photo detective” by the Wall Street Journal.