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.

Collection Overview
This collection contains the art journals of Dorothy Arnold.  Arnold began writing and painting in journals in the early 1940s, while documenting her life and travels. Her journals span 62 years from 1938 to 2010 and 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 go on to 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 own world of art. While the inner world of emotions is shown in her abstract paintings, her use of colors are well presented in the landscapes and portraits.


Lease of Markethouse to J. Wellington, 1815, Lucius R. Paige Papers (021)

The Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the Lucius R. Paige Papers are now available for research.

Rev. Lucius R. Paige was a Universalist minister, biblical scholar, historian, and public official. The youngest of nine children, he was born on March 2, 1802 to Timothy Paige and Mary (Robinson) Paige in Hardwick, Massachusetts.

As a young man, he read Hosea Ballou’s A Treatise on Atonement, which caused him to reject his parents Calvinist faith. In 1823 he wrote to Ballou describing the impact his work had on him, as a result he entered Ballou’s home in 1825 as a student. In 1825 he was settled and ordained in Springfield, Massachusetts where he remained for four years. He ministered for two years in Rockport before moving to Cambridge in 1832, succeeding Thomas Whittemore at the First Universalist Society.

Paige was married four times: first to Clarinda Richardson in 1826 by whom he had three children: Lucius R. Paige, Mary Jane Paige, and Henry Ballou Paige. His second wife was Abby Whittemore, sister of his colleague Thomas Whittemore. They had two children: a daughter Clarinda and a son Thomas Whittemore. He would marry Lucy Richardson in 1845 and Ann (Peck) Brigham in 1866.

Paige was heavily involved in town affairs, resulting in his resigning from the church in 1839. He served as Town Clerk from 1839-1840 and 1843-1846 and when Cambridge was incorporated, as City Clerk from 1846-1855. His public service continued with a career in banking until 1871 and as a representative in the Massachusetts legislature from 1878-1879.

He remained active in church affairs and preached occasionally for thirty years until failing health forced him to decline invitations. He suffered from bouts of illness over the years until dying in 1896 at the age of ninety-five. He is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Collection Overview
This collection contains manuscripts, town records, and hand drawn maps relating to Cambridge’s early history as collected by Lucius R. Paige. Paige maintained handwritten manuscript drafts, correspondence and personal notebooks throughout his research period.

Series 1 contains the handwritten manuscript of Paige’s book “History of Cambridge, 1630-1877”. Each folder contains around 25 pages of his manuscript. The series also contains handwritten copies of county probate files, deeds, and early town records of Cambridge.

Series 2 contains letters written by correspondents of Paige on the subject of local church histories and genealogies of Cambridge families. Paige was very interested in the histories of the founding families of Cambridge, and compiled the information he received into his notes that are found in the genealogical section of his History of Cambridge. As he himself was a reverend, Paige also kept correspondence with churchgoers around Cambridge who knew the histories of their own churches. This series is a substantial part of the collection.

Series 3 contains documents related to the general history of Cambridge including hand written copies of Revolutionary War muster rolls, and Paige’s personal endeavor to build a dike in Cambridge by his property. The Original Draft of the City Charter contains a handwritten manuscript of the Cambridge city charter with notations and edit marks in the columns. The Market House Records contain administrative records on the business of running a market house, including deeds and property documents while it was operating. The Cambridge Common, Town House, and Cambridge Bridge, records were donated by Charles Folsom in 1857. The records document Cambridge’s growing need in the 19th Century for modern infrastructure to meet the demands of the populace.


Page 1 of handwritten copy of the original Constitution of the Cambridge Anti-Slavery Society, May 1836, Cambridge Anti-Slavery Society Records, (129)

The Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the Cambridge Anti-Slavery Society Records are now available for research.  The records have been digitized and are available here.

Cambridge and Boston in the 19th century was a hotbed of anti-slavery activity from the preaching of William Lloyd Garrison to the talks given by Frederick Douglass. The American Anti-Slavery Society was formed by Garrison and Arthur Tappan in 1833. The following year, the Cambridge Anti-Slavery Society was formed and a constitution was written on June 3, 1834 with the purpose of raising awareness and petitioning the United States Congress for the total abolition of slavery. The group was led by Aretmas B. Muzzey who recruited like minded men in Cambridge who believed in the complete eradication of slavery. The Cambridge division became part of the larger, national group in 1834 and regularly sent members to anti-slavery conferences. The Cambridge Anti-Slavery Society continued operating until the 1840s, but there is no documentation as to when the society disbanded.

Collection Overview
The Cambridge Anti-Slavery Society Records contains one item, the Constitution of the Cambridge Anti-Slavery Society, a handwritten copy of the original constitution dated 1836.

130_00_01_001p1-2Title Page, Committee of Correspondence Account Book, 1776, Cambridge Committee of Correspondence Records (0130).

The Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the Cambridge Committee of Correspondence Records are now available for research.  The records have been digitized and is available here.

The Committees of Correspondence were organizations formed by colonial civic leaders prior to the American Revolution. They coordinated responses to England and shared their plans with each other. The committees rallied opposition to British authority and established plans for collective actions. In November 1772, Dr. Joseph Warren and Samuel Adams formed a committee in response to the Gaspée Affair and the British decision to pay the salaries of the royal governor from the Crown rather than by the colonial assembly, which removed the colony of it’s means to control public officials. The ideas of the committee in Boston would spread to other New England towns that set up their own committees, including Cambridge. Cambridge elected a committee on December 14, 1772, with its members: Capt. Samuel Whittemore, Capt. Ebenezer Stedman, Capt. Ephraim Frost, Capt. Eliphalet Robbins, Capt. Thomas Gardner, Joseph Wellington, Abraham Watson Jr., Nathaniel Sparhawk, and Samuel Thatcher Jr. The Committee was active in communicating with surrounding towns and coordinating efforts with townspeople to oppose British restrictions on their rights. In Nov. 1773, Cambridge met with other towns in Boston to jointly oppose the importation of tea, which resulted in the Boston Tea Party the following month. As the revolutionary crisis continued, Committees of Safety superseded Committees of Correspondence as they took control away control from royal officials.

Collection Overview
This collection contains one 11”x 5” account book inscribed inside with “Committee of Correspondence, 1776”. The author is unknown. Within the book is handwritten entries regarding whose land was seized or forfeited by Loyalist Cambridge residents. On March 17, 1776, British soldiers set sail for Halifax leaving Boston and its environs with residents loyal to the Crown on board. Names included in the account book include the last Royal Lt. Gov. Thomas Oliver, Major William Brattle, Widow Vassall, and others. Each estate is given a monetary value, which was assigned to the Committee for their use. The proceeds from their forfeiture helped fund the American Revolution.

Poster for poetry reading celebrating John Wieners, representing many from the Cambridge poetry community, William Corbett Papers (068).

The Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the William Corbett Papers, 1993-2004 are now available to research.

William Corbett–a poet, professor, and central figure in Boston’s literary scene–was born on October 11, 1942. He grew up in Pennsylvania and Connecticut and developed an interest in literature in his youth. He studied literature and history at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1964. Corbett and his wife, Beverly Mitchell, lived in Boston, Massachusetts, from the 1960s-2012. During their time in Boston, their home at 9 Columbus Square in the South End served as a valuable salon for Boston’s literary scene. The couple welcomed both established and emerging writers into their home, frequently hosting dinners where writers could read poetry and connect with other artists.

Corbett has published collections of poetry and prose, as well as editing books and journals. His poetry bears the influence of modernist poetry and the Black Mountain College community; it is also influenced by the landscapes of New England and the people in Corbett’s life. In 1999 Corbett, along with Daniel Bouchard and Joseph Torra, founded Pressed Wafer. Originally based at 9 Columbus Square, Pressed Wafer publishes poetry, art, and fiction and nonfiction writing. He taught writing at institutions such as Harvard University, Emerson College, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was a professor for over twenty years. In 2012, the Corbetts relocated to Brooklyn, New York, to be nearer their children and grandchildren.

Collection Overview
This collection contains broadsides printed by Pressed Wafer, many of which commemorate poetry readings at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other institutions in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Some of these broadsides have been signed by the poet. The collection also includes several posters advertising poetry readings in Boston and Cambridge.