Handwritten letter from Thomas Jefferson to Isaac Story, December 5, 1801, from the Isaac Story Papers, 1795-1801.

The Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the Isaac Story Papers, 1795-1801 are now available to research.

Isaac Story was born in 1749. He was minister of the Second Congregational Church of Marblehead in Marblehead, Massachusetts, from 1771-1802. Story was acquainted with and corresponded with several of the founding fathers, including George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. Story died in 1816.

Collection Overview
This collection comprises two letters to Isaac Story, one from George Washington and one from Thomas Jefferson. Washington’s letter, written in 1705, thanks Story for copies of his sermons. Jefferson’s letter, from 1801, discusses the transmigration of souls.

The Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the Cambridge Book and Author War Bond Rally Manuscripts, ca. 1940-1943 are now available to research.

During the Second World War, cities around America hosted Book and Author War Bond Rallies at which authors spoke and donated works to encourage the public to purchase war bonds. The city of Cambridge hosted one such rally on September 28, 1943. Several prominent authors spoke and donated manuscripts to the Cambridge Public Library. Local organizations raised money for war bonds to sponsor these donations. The event raised $1,125,163 in bonds for the war effort. The organizations that bought the greatest amount of war bonds were the Jewish Community of Cambridge ($122,461), the Cambridge Rotary Club ($53,852), and the American Legion Auxiliary ($35,065). The authors who spoke at the event were Roy Chapman Andrews, Van Wyck Brooks, Edna Ferber, and John Roy Carlson (also known as Arthur Derounian). This collection includes the manuscripts of Andrews, Brooks, and Ferber, as well as manuscripts of a poem by Robert Nathan.

Van Wyck Brooks (February 16, 1886-May 2, 1963) was a critic and historian who wrote extensively on the literary history of America. He won the Pulitzer Prize in History in 1937 for his book The Flowering of New England. Edna Ferber (August 15, 1885-April 16, 1968) was a writer of fiction and theater, as well as autobiographies. Often focusing on diverse American workers, several of Ferber’s works were adapted into musicals or films. She won a Pulitzer Prize in 1925 for her novel So Big. Roy Chapman Andrews (January 26, 1884-March 11, 1960) was an explorer and naturalist who became the director of the American Museum of Natural History. In addition to scientific articles, Andrews wrote popular accounts of his expeditions, including his work with dinosaur fossils in the Gobi Desert. Robert Nathan (January 2, 1894-May 25, 1985) was a writer of both fiction and poetry. Of the more than fifty books he published, the most well known if Portrait of Jennie.

Collection Overview
This collection contains four manuscripts donated to the Cambridge Public Library as part of a Book and Author War Bond Rally. The first three manuscripts are for the following books: Under a Lucky Star (1943) by Roy Chapman Andrews; Cambridge 1815-1915 (1943) by Van Wyck Brooks, made up of passages of his books The Flowering of New England (1936) and New England: Indian Summer (1940); and Saratoga Trunk (1941) by Edna Ferber. The fourth is of the poem Winter Tide (ca. 1940) by Robert Nathan.

The Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the Samuel Atkins Eliot Manuscript, circa 1912 is now available to research.

Samuel Atkins Eliot was born on August 24, 1862, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His parents were Ellen Derby Peabody and Charles William Eliot, a chemist who went on to become the president of Harvard University. Eliot received his education at Harvard College, graduating in 1884. He then studied at Harvard Divinity School, graduating in 1889. He married Frances Hopkinson the same year. The couple had seven children, including the author Samuel Atkins Eliot Jr.

Eliot worked as a missionary in Seattle before completing his divinity school studies. After graduating, he preached at Denver, Colorado’s Unity Church. He also established the National Conference of Churches’ Rocky Mountain Conference. From there he moved on to Church of the Saviour in Brooklyn, New York, also becoming active in the American Unitarian Association. Eliot served as the executive of the American Unitarian Association for nearly thirty years, first as secretary beginning in 1898, then as president from 1900-1927. Eliot’s leadership saw the National Conference of Churches merge with the American Unitarian Association. After stepping down from his position of leadership, Eliot became a minister at the Arlington Street Church in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1913, Eliot published A History of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1630-1913. This work built upon the histories of Cambridge written Abiel Holmes (1801) and Lucius Paige (1877) by recounting the city’s history through the early twentieth century. Eliot died on October 15, 1950.

Collection Overview
This collection contains one manuscript, that of A History of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1630-1913. The manuscript includes drafts of chapters 2-11, as well as chapter headings and other writings that were not included in the final publication.

The  Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the Eddy Toussaint Tontongi Papers, 1984-2014 are now available to research.


Eddy Toussaint (aka Tontongi) was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. After studying poetry in high school in Port-au-Prince in the 1960s, Toussaint moved to Paris in 1974 and later to Reims to study French literature and philosophy. He has lived in the United States, in the Cambridge area, since 1976. In the 1980s, Toussaint adopted the name his mother gave him as a baby – Tontongi (Uncle Guy or Uncle Gi) – as a pen name.

Poet, critic, essayist, Toussaint writes in Haitian Creole, French, and English. His books of poetry include Cri de Rêve: La Manifeste Poétique de la Poésie Exilée, The Dream of Being: Liberation Poetry, the epic poem, The Vodou Gods’ Joy / Rejwisans Lwa Yo (about his experience growing up in a Voodoo temple), and In the Beast’s Alley: Poems of Conscience. His essays include a study of the first Aristide presidency, La Présidence d’Aristide: Entre Le Défi l’Espoir.

Toussaint has published several newspapers and magazines related to the Haitian Diaspora in the Boston area, including Nouvelle Stratégie (first published in 1984), Haiti-Progrès, Haiti en Marche, Boston Haitian Reporter, Left Curve, and Tanbou. He has contributed to several anthologies, including Vodou: Visions and Voices of Haiti, Open Gate: Anthology of Haitian Creole Poetry (the first translated poetry book of Haitian Creole), Revolution/Revolisyon/ Révolution: An Artistic Commemoration of the Haitian Revolution, and Liberation Poetry: An Anthology, Poetica Agwe: Essays, Poems, and Testimonials on Resistance, Peace and the Ideal of Being.

Toussaint is the editor of the trilingual literary-political journal, Tanbou (available online at tanbou.com), and the founder of Trilingual Press based in Cambridge, Mass. Tanbou, founded in 1992, seeks to “embody a written, artistic expression of a consciousness that is trapped, mystified and oppressed but which still maintains the struggle against the domination of the absurd.” Works are published in English, French, or Haitian Creole without translations so that equal importance is placed on each language. The first issue was published in January 1994.

Trilingual Press was founded in 2003, as a collective, collaborative and non-commercial press, which advocates the concept of koumbit (helping hand) to help publish work of interest in Haitian Creole, French, English, and other world languages and literatures. In 2004,Trilingual Press published its first book: Love and Other Poems by Haitian Youths by Paul Germain. The Press features local poets, including Dumas F. Lafontant, who lives in Cambridge.

Collection Overview

This collection contains journals, pamphlets, and books either written by or published by Eddy Toussaint Tontongi through Trilingual Press. The publications, which include poems, essays, and translations, are bilingual (English/Haitian Creole or French/Haitian Creole) or trilingual (English/French/Haitian Creole) and promote the Haitian Creole language or describe the Haitian Diaspora in the Boston area. The Trilingual Press publishes poetry, novels, essays, and translations.


Handwritten letter from James Russell Lowell to Miss Gilder, September 11, 1885 , from the James Russell Lowell Papers, 1885-1886 (104).

The  Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the James Russell Lowell Papers, 1885-1886 are now available to research.

James Russell Lowell–born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on February 22, 1819–was a poet, essayist, editor, professor, and diplomat. The child of Reverend Charles Russell Lowell, Sr. and Harriet Spence Lowell, James Russell Lowell was a member of the prominent Massachusetts Lowell family. He completed his studies at Harvard College in 1838 and  Harvard Law School in 1840, though he soon devoted himself to writing rather than law. Lowell would become one of the Fireside Poets, so named for their popularity and suitability for families to enjoy around the fire.

Among Lowell’s best-known works are three published in 1848. The Biglow Papers (of which a second volume was published in 1862) compiled works featuring the Yankee character Hosea Biglow, whom Lowell used to critique political events. The Vision of Sir Launfal was his take on Arthurian legend. In A Fable for Critics, he presented clever verse portraits of literary figures of the day. Lowell also played a large role in the early days of The Atlantic Monthly, writing for and editing the magazine he helped found. In 1885, Lowell was granted a professorship at Harvard, where he taught for approximately twenty years, during which time he continued to write. He was later appointed to diplomatic positions in Spain in 1877 and Great Britain in 1880.

Lowell married the poet Maria White in 1844. Three of the couple’s four children died in childhood, and Maria herself passed away soon after, in 1853. Lowell remarried in 1857, to Frances Dunlap. He died in Cambridge on August 12, 1891. Lowell is buried in Cambridge’s Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Collection Overview
This collection contains one letter and one manuscript, both written by James Russell Lowell. The letter includes a list of selected works by Lowell. The manuscript comprises a draft of Lowell’s essay The Progress of the World.


Handwritten postcard from Thomas Wentworth Higginson to Etta Russell, June 1, 1897, from the Thomas Wentworth Higginson Papers, 1850-1907.

The  Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the Thomas Wentworth Higginson Papers, 1850-1907 are now available to research.

Thomas Wentworth Higginson was a writer, minister, colonel, abolitionist, and activist. He was born on December 23, 1823 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Louisa Storrow Higginson and Stephen Higginson Jr. Thomas Wentworth Higginson graduated from Harvard College in 1841 and from Harvard Divinity School in 1847. He then served as a preacher, first in Newburyport, where he was deemed too radical, and later at the Free Church in Worcester, Massachusetts. During this time, Higginson became increasingly active in abolitionist activity. He wrote and preached against slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War and was active in the Boston Vigilance Committee and the Underground Railroad. After supporting abolitionist settlers in Kansas following the Kansas-Nebraska Act, he provided financial support to John Brown’s raid of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. During the Civil War, Higginson led the Higginson, Thomas Wentworth (Thomas Wentworth Higginson Papers, 1850-1907) Union’s first African-American regiment. He described his military service in the memoir Army Life in a Black Regiment.

After the Civil War, Higginson focused on writing, editing, and activism, living in Newport, Rhode Island, for about two decades before returning to Cambridge. As a writer, he published fiction, memoirs, and essays, working with publications such as the Atlantic Monthly and the Woman’s Journal. He wrote on issues such as women’s suffrage, temperance, and Reconstruction. Higginson was also an editor; he corresponded with Emily Dickinson and co-edited her poetry for publication after her death. Higginson served as a trustee of the Cambridge Public Library and was instrumental in establishing the collections of the Cambridge Room, the library’s archives and special collections. Higginson married Mary Channing in 1847. After her death in 1877, he married Mary Thacher in 1879. They had two daughters, Louisa, who died in infancy in 1880, and Margaret, born in 1881. Higginson died on May 9, 1911 in Cambridge and was buried in Cambridge Cemetery.

Collection Overview
This collection comprises letters written to and by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a manuscript of a portion of his book Cheerful Yesterdays, and pamphlets written by Higginson. The letters include discussion of Higginson’s time in England and work with the Cambridge Public Library. The manuscript contains the second chapter of Higginson’s memoir, Cheerful Yesterdays, “A Child of the College.” The pamphlets include speeches, sermons, reminiscences, and essays; topics covered include slavery and women’s suffrage.

Broadside by Michael Shaprio with poem by Mary Buchinger from the Michael Shapiro Papers, 1981-2016 (042).

The Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the Michael Shapiro Papers, 1981-2016 are now available to research.

Michael Shapiro was born in 1948 in New York City and grew up in Woodside, Queens. He earned a B.S. from the University of Massachusetts at Boston in 1983, a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1988, and a M.E. in Computer Science from Cornell University in 2000.  Shapiro grew up in a leftist Jewish household and came of age during the 1960s, participating in the counter culture revolution.  He has lived for many years in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  His is married to Mary Kerins.

Collection Overview
This collection contains the broadsides, cartoons, publications, and poetry of Michael Shapiro. His particular interest is American Yiddish poets from the early twentieth century.  These poets include Anna Margolin (b. Rosa Lebensboym), Rachel Korn, Celia Dropkin, and Moishe-Leib Halpern.  English translations of the poets are included with the artwork.  “Don’t Think I’ve Changed,” by Margolin is from Drunk From the Bitter Truth, translated by Shirley Kumove.  “On the Other Side of the Poem,” by Rachel Korn is from An Anthology of Modern Yiddish Poetry, bilingual edition, selected and translated by Ruth Whitman, originally published by Workmen’s Circle and later by Wayne State University Press. Shapiro translated “Who Is?,” “Evening,” and “A Shikse by the Sea” by Halpern, “To Lucifer” and “My Hands” by Dropkin, and “Darkened Room” and “Slowly and Luminously” by Anna Margolin.  On the Halpern broadside, the drawing of the man is based on a self-portrait by Halpern.

Shapiro has collaborated with local, national, and international poets to create signed, limited edition broadsides.  These broadsides were created for poetry festivals as well as readings, many of which took place at the Cambridge Public Library.  The poem “Romance of the Romances,” is by Cambridge Public Library employee Daniel Wuenschel, inspired by his shelving of romance novels. Shapiro collaborated with Wuenschel on the chapbook, Leviathan, in the collection under publications.

Included in the collection is Shapiro’s illustration of the Ern Malley poems. Ernest Lalor “Ern” Malley was a fictitious poet and the central figure in Australia’s most celebrated literary hoax. Malley and his entire body of work were created in one day in 1943 by writers James McAuley and Harold Stewart to prank Max Harris and Angry Penguins, the modernist magazine Harris had founded and edited.

The collection includes three of Shapiro’s plays. The 1981 “A Set of Skits and Songs for Street Theatre” comes with instructions for production.   Shapiro wrote the skit, Milton Friedman as Witch Doctor, for “Perverse, Immoral, and Profane” (1981) performed by the Newbury Street Theater.  Shapiro was also in the play.  “I Tell you These Things are Real,” was performed off Broadway at the Producers Club in New York City on March 22 and 23, 2002.

The underground publication, A House United Against Itself, is a zine founded by the Reverend Crowbar (also known as David Nestle and David Crowbar; his real name was David Molinar and has since become a woman and goes by Susan Poe), who also published Popular Reality one of the largest anarchist zines in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A House United Against Itself was published between 1988 and 1994 and was affiliated with other zines published at the time, which were referred to as the United Front Ministries and was connected to the Church of the SubGenius.  During this time, there was a subculture of people who took pseudonyms, gave themselves titles, purchased P.O. Boxes, and published zines, which they traded among themselves.  The catalyst for this trading was Factsheet Five, which was published as a zine directory.  Shapiro, whose pseudonym was the Rev. Etc. with the title Minister of Propaganda, later took over A House United Against.  Numbers and issues do not correlate to any real chronology of publication.  The number on the back of each publication corresponds to the order in which they were published.

Shapiro creates all his artwork digitally.


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