Archive for the ‘A Cambridge Room Exhibition’ Category


Broadside, Dear Gaybashers by Jill McDonough, illustrated by Michael Shapiro, from the Michael Shapiro Papers.

Pride, Cambridge-Style

Exhibition Location: 2nd Floor of the Main Library

A selection of broadsides, poems, and posters celebrating LGBTQ+ life are currently on display. Curated by Daniel Wuenschel, this exhibitions draws from the Cambridge Room’s collections and feature poets and artists connected to Cambridge.

Two poems
Landscape without Touch and Still Life by Olga Broumas
from Soie Sauvage: Poems, published by Copper Canyon Press, 1979
Available in the Louisa Solano Papers.

Dear Gaybashers by Jill McDonough, illustrated by Michael Shapiro
“Printed in honor of Jill McDonough’s reading at Cambridge Public Library on October 28, 2015”
Available in the Michael Shapiro Papers.

Lines for Chelsea Manning by John Mulrooney, designed by Mark Lamoureux, printed on the occasion of the author’s reading at the 2016 Boston Poetry Marathon in Inman Square, Cambridge
Available in the Daniel Wuenschel Papers.

Reading and Book Signing celebrating the publication of the book The Letters of James Schuyler to Frank O’Hara, edited by William Corbett
Pierre Menard Gallery, Cambridge
Saturday, October 21 2006
Available in the William Corbet Papers.

In Memory of Joe Brainerd by Frank Bidart
From Desire, published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1997
Available in the Louisa Solano Papers.

Nuestra Senora de los Dolores: The San Francisco Experience by Charley Shively, published by Good Gay Poets, 1975
Available in the Louisa Solano Papers.

Celebrating 10 Years of Marriage Equality, designed by Luke Kirkland, 2014, Cambridge Public Library.
Available in the Cambridge Public Library Records.

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From the Mary Leno Ephemera Collection (124)

Cambridge History Through Buttons

Exhibition Location: 2nd Floor of the Main Library

The political button with an image of the candidate first appeared during the 1860 election; Abraham Lincoln and his opponents used tintypes as a way to advertise their campaigns. William McKinley and the election of 1896 saw the first mass produced “celluloid” buttons constructed of a metal disk covered with paper with a printed message and protected by a layer of clear plastic.

Throughout the 20th Century campaign buttons were ubiquitous, with millions made for every election cycle, protest movement, or slogan (political or otherwise). In the past decade, the trend has waned in favor of “web buttons” and disposable stickers.

This exhibition shows campaign buttons from the Mary Leno Ephemera Collection. Leno began collecting buttons in the late 1960s and amassed an impressive array of Cambridge-related themes: from City Council races to the protest against the Inner Belt Highway. Leno’s collection documents the later half of the Twentieth Century, including the LGTBQ rights movement, women’s rights, and rent control.

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Camp Cameron/Camp Day Diorama:  An Exhibition
Exhibition Location: 2nd Floor of the Main Library

In 1861 North Cambridge and West Somerville was a very thinly settled area. Camp Cameron (Later named Camp Day) was a Civil War camp of Rendezvous and Instruction located on the North Cambridge / West Somerville town line. The Massachusetts First Regiment occupied the camp on June 1, 1861 and the last troops left in January 1863. The camp sat between what is now Mass. Ave. and Broadway. Cameron Ave. runs through the center of it.

For twenty months thousands of troops were both recruited and trained at Camp Cameron. The camp consisted of thirty permanent buildings and several smaller temporary buildings and tents.

Here are two firsthand descriptions of the camp:

“This was a Farm extending from the Old Lexington Pike, (now Broadway) which crosses Winter Hill and thence over the ridge in Somerville to Arlington, south to North Avenue (now Massachusetts Ave) in Cambridge, or to the old Pike that leads from Harvard Square in Old Cambridge to Arlington, and there unites with the road from Somerville, the southern half of the farm in Cambridge was a plateau of perhaps ten acres, extending back from the Cambridge road, and falling off quite abruptly to a meadow through which ran a little brook, a branch of the Alewife. (Tannery Brook) On the Northern border of this plateau, extending with intervals between them, clean across the plain, were barracks. About midway in the range of buildings, and between the two middle barracks in the range a road passed from the Cambridge road, north dividing the plain in two, and crossing the little brook and the sloping field beyond,  which was in Somerville, the barracks at the east of this bridle-road were occupied by the boys of the First Light Battery, and those on the west were early during our stay in this camp, used by men of the Twenty-Sixth, of which the old Sixth, that went through Baltimore on the 19th of April, was the nucleus. Between the barracks and the Cambridge road was the drill ground, and a fine one it was.”

“Near the south bank of the little brook, and to the east of the bridle-road, was the Commissary and Quarter Masters Department building, and to its left and rear, if you were looking south, were our stables. North of the brook and well up the slope to the west of the bridle-road, were the headquarters of the battery.”  [Story of the First Massachusetts Light Battery, Attached to the 6th Army Corp., Andrew J. Bennett, 1886, Press of De Land & Barta, Boston, Ma, pg. 18-19.]

It was described as: “truly it was a heterogeneous compound representing nearly every race of people in Europe, and plentifully sprinkled among them was a leaven of the whole smart, shrewd, intelligent, quick-eyed and quick-witted Americans and such a confusing babble as prevailed I have never heard before. Wrangling and swearing, drinking and eating, talking and laughing, —-all combined to give me no very agreeable foretaste of what I had to expect in my new vocation. I noticed others, new, like myself, to such scenes, who seemed mentally dumb founded, or unconsciously comparing the quiet routine of the life they led at home to the new one they had assumed, and, no doubt, to the great advantage of the former and the dislike of the latter.  [Soldiering in North Carolina…, Thomas Kirwan, 1864, Thomas Kirwan, Boston, pg. 6.]

The camp was often at odds with its neighbors because of noise and crime. For the first year of its existence Camp Cameron trained new regiments for the seat of war. In its second year its primary purpose was to recruit replacement men for the “old regiments, already at the front.” After January 1863 its function was moved to Fort Independence on Boston Harbor. Its biggest drawback was it had no fence and like most camps in the union at this time it was subject to bounty jumping. As recruiting became harder, lucrative signing bounties were added to entice recruits to sign up. Some people made a career out of this. They enlisted, collected the bounty, deserted, moved on to another town, and did it again. Ft. Independence was considered more secure.

If you look at today’s map you will see streets named not only Camp & Cameron but also Seven Pines, Yorktown, Glendale and Fair Oaks, all named for Civil War battles.

Diorama and Text by Dan Sullivan
Facebook:  Camp Cameron, Cambridge, MA

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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.



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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.


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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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