Category Archives: Cambridge Public Library

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.

Register for Author and DNA Expert Libby Copeland: The Cultural Phenomenon of Home DNA Testing

Date & Time:
March 1, 2021
6:30pm – 7:30pm
REGISTER HERE

The Cultural Phenomenon of Home DNA Testing
The presentation will explore the extraordinary cultural phenomenon of home DNA testing, which is redefining family history. It will draw on Libby Copeland’s years of research for her new book The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are (Abrams, 2020), which The Wall Street Journal calls “a fascinating account of lives dramatically affected by genetic sleuthing.” With more than 35 million people having been tested, a tipping point has been reached. Virtually all Americans are affected whether they have been tested or not, and millions have been impacted by significant revelations in their immediate families.

Libby Copeland is an award-winning journalist and author, who writes from New York about culture, science, and human behavior. As a freelance journalist, she writes for such media outlets as The Atlantic, Slate, New York, Smithsonian, The New York Times, The New Republic, Esquire.com, and The Wall Street Journal.  Copies of The Lost Family, signed and personalized by Libby Copeland, can be purchased through The Village Bookstore in Pleasantville, NY (Attention: Jennifer Kohn, 914-769-8322).

Our Streets Come Alive Through Poetry

Our streets come alive through poetry. If you’re looking for inspiration in Cambridge, you might want to look down. There are 20 poems by Cambridge residents imprinted in our sidewalks! Since 2015, Cambridge’s annual Sidewalk Poetry Contest has invited residents to submit poetry for the chance to get their words stamped in concrete as part of the city’s sidewalk repair program. The collaborative project from Cambridge’s Department of Public Works, Cambridge Arts, and the Cambridge Public Library uses the city’s regular infrastructure maintenance efforts to put poetry out into the world, in every neighborhood of our community. An average of 150 poems are submitted from people ages 3 to 95 each year and five winners are selected and stamped throughout city. (The 2020 review committee is presently examining this year’s poems.) Winning poems have spoken about hibernating mice and voles, a spring thaw, scullers on the river, the songs of birds, memories stirred by passing an old lover’s address.  This is just a little example of the cultural richness we love in Cambridge. Find all our city’s sidewalk poetry on this interactive map.

Systemic Racial Bias in Archives: An Interview

CPL’s Archivist Alyssa Pacy was recently invited by artist and activist Lori Lander to discuss race in Cambridge during Lander’s breakfast gatherings- weekly conversations on pressing local and national issues. Alyssa discusses racial bias in archives in general and the work she is doing at the CPL to remedy it by highlighting recently donated collections from Cambridge’s African American Community. See footage of her discussion with public historian Diana Lempel here!

A Conversation with Alyssa Pacy, CPL Archivist

The Cambridge Public Library Foundation recently interviewed Alyssa Pacy, Cambridge Public Library Archivist, as part of their series on Cambridge Public Library staff.

It’s no secret: we love the Cambridge Public Library staff! From circulation to admin, facilities to youth services – the enthusiasm, warmth, and dedication of Library workers makes Cambridge an amazing place to live and be.

While we look forward to life returning to normal, we’d like to share a series of conversations with Library staff members virtually conducted by the Foundation. We hope that reading about their work brightens your day, and reminds you that no matter what goes on the world, the Cambridge Public Library continues to support our community.
Alyssa Pacy, Archivist, Cambridge Public Library.

What do you do at the Library?
I am the archivist at the Cambridge Public Library, and, to make it very simple, I collect, preserve, describe and make available records of enduring value that document the history of Cambridge.

Read the full interview here.

Researching the History of Your Cambridge House at the New Valente Branch

Researching the History of Your Cambridge House at the New Valente Branch
Are you interested in learning more about where you live or the property you own? This hour-long workshop will guide you through a variety of online resources that will help you research your home from the comfort of your home. Discover when your building was built and by whom. Find out who lived in your house and how your neighborhood has changed.  Registration is mandatory.

Date, Time & Location:
6:30pm – 7:30pm, Monday, November 18, Valente Branch, REGISTER HERE

Digital Storytelling: Roseland: A Family History produced by Rayshauna Gray

Discovering Our History, Telling Our Stories

Digital stories created by students in a collaboration with CCTV and Cambridge Public Library genealogy workshops

In late 2017, the Cambridge Public library began a collaboration with CCTV to work with students in the library’s genealogy workshops. The purpose of the program, funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Cambridge Arts Council, was to teach those who had been studying their families’ histories the technical skills to produce digital stories about their families.

Here’s one of those stories.

Digital Storytelling: Following In My Grandfather’s Footsteps produced by Nicole Smith

Discovering Our History, Telling Our Stories

Digital stories created by students in a collaboration with CCTV and Cambridge Public Library genealogy workshops

In late 2017, the Cambridge Public library began a collaboration with CCTV to work with students in the library’s genealogy workshops. The purpose of the program, funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Cambridge Arts Council, was to teach those who had been studying their families’ histories the technical skills to produce digital stories about their families.

Here’s one of those stories.

Digital Storytelling Class: Cambridge Chronicle Front Page News


An image from Gilda Bruckman’s short film, “Gravestone Mysteries,” created as part of the Cambridge Public Library and CCTV’s collaborative program, Discovering Our Histories, Telling Our Stories.

By Denny Hackett / Cambridge@wickedlocal.com
Posted November 26, 2018
Printed Edition:  November 29, 2016

Missing gravestones, immigration, the origins of unique family names: these are just some of the stories the people of Cambridge have to tell. On Nov. 15, after a six-week course, 10 residents showcased the intricacies of their family histories during a film screening at the Cambridge Public Library.  Read the rest of the article here.