Category Archives: Cambridge Chronicle

Help Us Preserve the Cambridge Chronicle

Do you have a copy of the August 1, 2019 edition of the Cambridge Chronicle?  If you’re willing to part with it, we’d love to be able to microfilm it.  We keep the Cambridge Chronicle in perpetuity and 2019 is incomplete.  Please help us preserve Cambridge’s newspaper of record!  E-mail


Congressman John Lewis in Cambridge, Mass.

Congressman John Lewis pictured after unveiling the plaque honoring Titus, Venus, Bilhah, and Juba, the four enslaved individuals who worked at Wadsworth house at Harvard University.  Courtesy of the Harvard Gazette.

With Civil Rights Activist and Congressman John Lewis on our minds lately, we decided to take a look through the Historic Cambridge Newspaper Collection to research the historic news coverage of Congressman Lewis in the Cambridge Chronicle.  Not only did Congressman Lewis visit Cambridge often, he was foremost in the thoughts of Cambridge’s citizens, as they publicly discussed major world events like the war in Kosovo or the Massachusetts Supreme Court recognition of same sex marriage. 

Here’s a timeline of the coverage.  (Please note:  To access newspaper articles, please register here.):

Congressman John Lewis visits the John F. Kennedy School of Government to participate in a panel, titled “Can the Black-Jewish Coalition Be Effective in the New Congress?”  Congressman Lewis joined Representative Barney Frank, Representative Alcee Hastings, Leonard Zakim, Executive Director of the Anti-Defamation League of New England, and Randall Kennedy Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. 

Congressman John Lewis keynotes the 5th Annual Team Harmony conference in which 12,000 teenagers from across New England (including CRLS students) get together to discuss and combat racism.  This article advertises the 1999 event but mentions Congressman Lewis’ past participation.

To promote his book, Walking with the Wind:  A Memoir of the Movement, Congressman Lewis visits the Kennedy School to give a lecture.  His message to the audience was, “Don’t become bitter.  Don’t become hostile.  Walk with the wind and let the spirit of history be your guide.”

Cambridge’s First Baptist Church partners with Oxfam America and City Year to host a “hunger banquet” to raise social consciousness about economic inequality.  The banquet followed a speech given by Congressman Lewis at City Year’s headquarters in Boston.

Reverend Jeffrey L. Brown, pastor of Cambridge’s Union Baptist Church, and Cambridge author Janice A. Pryor wrote an opinion piece after NATO bombed Kosovo and mistakenly killed civilians.  They asked readers to think about what is worth fighting for and what is worth dying for. They cite John Lewis as an example. 

Congressman Lewis is Lesley University’s Commencement speaker.

Quoted in a political advertisement in support of same sex marriage. Congressman Lewis explains, “Some say let’s choose another route and give gay folks some legal rights but call it something other than marriage. We have been down that road before in this country. Separate is not equal. The rights to liberty and happiness belong to each of us and on the same terms… Our rights as Americans do not depend on the approval of others. Our rights depend on US being Americans.” 

Congressman Lewis receives an honorary degree from Cambridge College.

Cambridge’s Reverend Irene Monroe cites Congressman Lewis in an article about Boston’s LGBTQ+ community’s viewing and discussion of Ava DuVernay’s film, Selma.

Congressman Lewis joins Harvard President Drew Faust to unveil a plaque of Wadsworth House in honor of Titus, Venus, Bilhah, and Juba, four enslaved persons who during the 1700s lived and labored in the households of two Harvard presidents.

Congressman Lewis is Harvard University’s Commencement Speaker.

Have you Taken our Cambridge Chronicle Survey?

18 April 1914 edition of the  Cambridge Chronicle.

Do you read the Cambridge Chronicle?  Have you ever used the Historic Cambridge Newspaper Collection?  We’re conducting a brief survey to learn about the ways that users read and access Cambridge news, specifically the Cambridge Chronicle.   Take our short, 10 question survey here.

Thank you for your participation!

Cambridge High School Graduation, circa 1865


Invitation to the Graduation Exercises for the Class of 1865, Cambridge High School.

On July 14th, 1865, 43 students graduated from Cambridge High School.  The next day the Cambridge Chronicle covered the ceremony in detail.  Read all about it here.  After the ceremony, a dance was held.  The Cambridge Room recently acquired the invitation pictured above as well as a dance card.  See if you recognize any of the dances that all the 18 year olds knew in 1865.


Cambridge High School, Class of 1865 Dance Card, 14 July 1865.


Do You Read the Cambridge Chronicle?

18 April 1914 edition of the  Cambridge Chronicle.

Do you read the Cambridge Chronicle?  Have you ever used the Historic Cambridge Newspaper Collection?  We’re conducting a brief survey to learn about the ways that users read and access Cambridge news, specifically the Cambridge Chronicle.   Take our short, 10 question survey here.

Thank you for your participation!

The Definition of Blizzard, circa 1881


In late 19th Century America, “blizzard” was a new word.  In 1881, when the Cambridge Chronicle decided to investigate it, the newspaper claimed that “blizzard” didn’t yet appear in any dictionary.  The Chronicle defines it is a word of Western origin, meaning “colder than blazes.”  It seems as if the Chronicle was having a little fun with its readers.   Yet, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “blizzard” wasn’t used to describe snow until it became a favorite word of journalists to describe the severe winter of 1880-81.

Read the Chronicle‘s February 26, 1881 tongue-in-cheek take on the word “blizzard.”  We promise it will make you laugh, especially given our snowy day today:——-en-20–1–txt-txIN-%22blizzard%22—–

Riotous Ride

Tired of Summer? Tired of the muggy heat? Good! Because today we are going to pretend its winter.

While going through the vertical file the other week this item caught the eye.


The annual sleigh-ride of the Cambridge City Council? Yup, sleigh-ride. Sleigh rides were popular entertainment in the Victorian winter time. The Cambridge newspapers hold numerous postings about YMCA sleigh-rides, church sleigh-rides, women’s clubs and the city government.  Who would have known? Well not the archivist of the city papers because as a January 15, 1881 Cambridge Chronicle points out, the revels were “not to be printed with the city documents”.

And why is that? Well it seems like the good gentlemen of the city government had a little more fun than the average stoic Victorian male should.  The sleigh-ride consisted of men from the previous term of City Councilors, now relieved of the “cares of office” and free to celebrate with a sleigh-ride to Lexington.

The newspaper description of the 1881 revealed that before hand they drank so much “milk” that the landlord complained that “the cows were dry and the sleighs ready”. Off they went whisking away, loudly singing such songs as “Mary Had A Little Lamb”. They stopped for a rest and proceeded to draw up a resolution (they must not have remembered that they were no longer actively serving) to give themselves the title “Honorable” but half of them were too drunk to sign it. Finally when they were all sober again and had eaten the listened to each other give speeches. After which were numerous dances and no doubt more to drink.

The journalist writes

…the small hours came round unnoticed, till finally few had strength left to even laugh aloud, but their faces had gotten so fixed in position that they were left at their various houses sometime toward morning still smiling over the frolic of the City Government of 1880.

The City Government of 1886 must have learned what sort of press bad behavior got their predecessors and the accounting of their sleigh-ride festivities is less than thrilling. They left on time, had a “smoking hot supper” and “reached Cambridge on their return at good Puritan hours” recounts the Cambridge Chronicle. Perhaps it just became too dull a tradition to maintain…

Ladies’ Night, 1886


Cambridge has many institutions.  Some have survived, others have fallen by the wayside. There’s a few I would not mind bringing back. One being, The Cambridge Club’s Ladies’ Night.

The Cambridge Club was formed in October of 1879 and sought “to promote literary and social culture among its members”.  The groups meetings spanned such topics as “The Car Problem in Harvard Square” (1887) to “The Worth of Women’s Education” (1901) to “My Winter in North Greenland” a 1925 presentation by Donald B. MacMillan, an American explorer. In fact, (at least according to the Cambridge Club’s view of history) it was a discussion at the Cambridge Club on the needs of the Cambridge Public Library that convinced Frederick H. Rindge to build the structure that still stands today.


Young’s Hotel, 1910 via

Unfortunately, like so many of the institutions of that time period however, somehow those goals did not regularly include women. However, the last spring meeting of each year was Ladies’ Night. This included a huge dinner at Young’s Hotel in Boston as well as a lecture or perhaps music. In 1917 the Ladies’ Night included a talk and lantern-slide show on poor housing conditions in Boston and Cambridge while in 1898 it was a female soloist and a male “humorist”, known nowadays as a comedian.

The Cambridge Chronicle of 1893 stated that the hotel’s “large dining hall was none too large” since the guests that year included 75 male members almost all with a lady.

Young's Hotel Dining Room, 1910 via

Young’s Hotel Dining Room, 1910 via

In 1886, those tables were arrayed with foods from mock turtle soup, Roast Philadelphia Capon, Croquettes of lobster a la Cardinal and Banana Fritters, oh and Charlotte Russe, which lo and behold is a dessert in addition to a junior-sized clothing store. Below is the  menu for the 1886 Ladies’ Night from the Cambridge History Room’s Collection.

Sweets and Desserts?!?! Count me in.

Sweets and Desserts?!?! Count me in.

An menu from the Ladies’ Night in 1889 held by the NYPL shows roughly the same food but it seems that when the men dined alone they were a little more (by their standards) reserved. This undated menu someone has placed on Flickr shows a slightly less robust menu both food wise and decoration.

But the men of Victorian Cambridge had other means of entertainment. Read about an annual Cambridge City Council tradition from the time.

For more information check out The Cambridge Club, 1879 – 1939 at the Cambridge History Room or search the Cambridge Newspapers from the era online at Cambridge Public Library’s Historic Cambridge Newspaper Collection.

The Best Cambridge Chronicle Issue of all Time

Cambridge Chronicle, 8 October 1921.

For those of you who haven’t had a chance to peruse the 60 page anniversary edition of the Cambridge Chronicle, published on October 8, 1921, you’re in for a treat.

In addition to the front page congratulatory letter from President Warren Harding, there is:

There are also these little historical gems:

Explore away!