Category Archives: Collections

The Cambridge Public Library Needs Your Help!

Cambridge High and Latin Yearbook Staff, 1921.

We are in the process of digitizing and making freely available all the Cambridge High School yearbooks in our collection.  Unfortunately, we are missing many years.  We need yearbooks from Cambridge High and Latin School (before 1920, 1950s and 1960s), Rindge Technical School (any years), and Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (1987 to present).  If you are interested in donating a yearbook, please contact Alyssa Pacy, Archivist at the Cambridge Public Library, at or at 617-349-7757.  With your help, we can preserve and make accessible this important (and fun!) piece of Cambridge history.  Thank you!


The Alice M. Ronchetti Papers are Now Available


Alice Ronchetti outside the Cambridge Public Library Branch No.1 in 1935.



We are pleased to announce that the Alice M. Ronchetti Papers, 1935-1973, have been digitized and can now be viewed online, in addition to the original hard copies being available for research at the Cambridge Public Library.

Alice Ronchetti worked as a librarian for the Cambridge Public Library for 38 years, from 1935 until her retirement in 1973. During her professional life, Ronchetti dedicated herself to the needs of both young people and adults. Her “unselfish and outstanding service to the citizens of Cambridge” was noted by the Board of Library Trustees in their resolution to accept her retirement from her position of head librarian.

This collection contains Alice Ronchetti’s professional documents and photographs. The documents include her Certificate of Librarianship and two letters that document her retirement: one acceptance letter from library Director Joseph G. Sakey and one resolution passed by the Board of Library Trustees. The photographs in this collection were taken at East Cambridge (now the O’Connell Branch) and Mount Auburn (now the Collins Branch). They depict Alice Ronchetti’s work life in the Cambridge Public Library system, including her co-workers, children she worked with, and events held at the library. Some of the photographs were undated and the dates have been estimated.

Alice Mary Ronchetti was born on May 24, 1912 to Cesar Ronchetti (b. 1884) and Clotilde Nicoli (1883-1974) in Boston, Massachusetts. She was one of six siblings (Alfred, Joseph, Rose Mary, Mary, and James). Her family moved to Cambridge around 1921. Ronchetti died on October 1, 1986 at age 74 and is buried in the North Cambridge Catholic Cemetery.

The Cambridge City Documents are now available!

Maps and drawings of the Inner Belt Expressway that was planned for Cambridgeport in 1964 in the Cambridge City Documents Collection.

We are pleased to announce that the Cambridge City Documents, 1910-2012 are now available for research.

Collection Overview

This collection contains reports and other documents pertaining to various aspects of Cambridge government and life, mostly prepared by or for various City of Cambridge departments and agencies. Some documents pertain to Cambridge but were not prepared by or for by a city department or agency. Some documents pertain to Boston or Massachusetts more broadly.

Olive Pierce Photographs Now Available Online

Bodybuilders, 1984, from the No Easy Roses series, Olive Pierce Photographs (045), copyright Olive Pierce

Documentary photographer and political activist Olive Pierce spent the better half of the 1970s and 1980s photographing Cambridge.  Her first project in the early 1970s was to document the turbulent Cambridge City Council meetings that polarized the community around issues like rent control and police brutality, in particular 17 year-old Larry Largey who died in police custody.  Later in the decade, Pierce photographed the children of Jefferson Park, a housing project in North Cambridge, capturing their daily lives.

Pierce founded the photography program at Cambridge Rindge and Latin, and in 1986 published No Easy Roses: A Look at the Lives of City Teenagers, featuring photographs she took of students during her tenure.

Moving beyond Cambridge, Pierce photographed a rural Maine fishing village in the 1990s and Iraqi children during the interwar years.

The 78 photographs that Pierce donated to the Cambridge Room in 2014 are now available to view online.  The description of Pierce’s collection, along with her biography, is available here.

The Cambridge Community Television Collection is Now Available

The 2012 Annual Report from the CCTV Collection in the Cambridge Room

We are pleased to announce that the Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) Records, 1984-2016 Collection is now available for research.

Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) is a community media organization that formed through the origination of cable television in Cambridge. Since its launch in 1988, CCTV’s mission has been to provide resources to residents, businesses, and organizations in Cambridge through telecommunication tools and services. Maintaining a strong emphasis on community, engagement, and education, CCTV works as a media center that maintains and provides access to three local cable channels, workshops in media production and technology, public computer labs, and youth programming. The National Alliance for Community Media has named CCTV first in the country ten times since its establishment for best public access programming station. Members and staff have also been recognized locally and nationally for work produced through CCTV.[1]

Establishing cable for Cambridge was an extended deliberation that began with a municipal plan and ended with a television license agreement between American Cablesystems of Cambridge and the City of Cambridge. In 1978, a cable advisory committee formed to study the needs of Cambridge offered a municipal cable network option for residents. The city council passed the municipal plan twice before bringing it to a general vote in which residents rejected the plan. Despite the loss, in 1984 the city council suggested that citizens create a corporation to compete against other companies vying for franchise ownership as Cambridge’s cable provider. Cambridge Consumer-Owned Telecommunications (Cable Plus), was created as a result. It was designed as a cooperative in which paying residents would have a say in the development of services. Cable Plus planned for rates to be low and for the product to reflect local concerns of consumers.[2]

In 1984, three other firms competed against Cable Plus for the license to provide a cable system to Cambridge: American Cablesystems, Cablevision of New York, and Cambridge Cablevision Corporation.[3] Each corporation submitted a proposal to the City Manager and after review, American Cablesystems was chosen to be the cable provider. American Cablesystems was a much larger corporation that acquired its first system in 1978 and by 1984 operated in four regions: Massachusetts, New York, Florida, and Virginia (including West Virginia and Tennessee).[4] Although this ended local hopes of having a cooperative cable provider in Cambridge, American Cablesystems acknowledged the importance of community television and local programming.

On December 30, 1985 the final license for cable television was granted to American Cablesystems by Robert W. Healy, City Manager. In the license agreement, Cambridge Community Television was established as a corporation to operate the channels designated to public access programming.[5] In 1988, CCTV began its programs from a space in Kendall Square and in 1994 moved to its present location in Central Square. From its founding, CCTV provides local services and programming as a non-profit tax-exempt corporation.

Collection Overview
This collection contains materials related to Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) and the processes that led to its creation. It holds two proposals for Cambridge from American Cablesystems and Cable Plus that lay out plans for cable packages, construction, and distribution; the final cable contract between American Cablesystems and Cambridge; and proceeding contract renewals with MediaOne and Comcast. This collection also contains DVDs, ephemera, and paper documents including annual reports, fundraising and outreach materials, grant agreements, programming flyers and funding proposals produced by CCTV.

The cable proposals were originally arranged in three-ring binders. The American Cablesystems proposal includes duplicates that contain handwritten notes and are located in the folder “Annotated Pages”. The American Cablesystems proposal also includes pamphlets about the newest technologies in the 1980s market and cable advertising materials that can be found in Sections 8, 10, and 15.

There are sections missing from the American Cablesystems proposal: Section 7 (Local Organization Programming pp. 99-104), Section 9 (Municipal Services pp. 117-121), and part of Section 10 (Subscriber Services pp. 122-137). Pages 138-198 of Section 10 are available.

Works Cited:
[1] “About Cambridge Community Television.” Cambridge Community Television.

[2] “Cable Plus News.” September 1984, vol. 1 issue 1, Cambridge Vertical File, 051, Subject File Cable Television, Cambridge Room, Cambridge Public Library Archives and Special Collections.

[3] Hirshson, Paul. “Cambridge Has Data Ready on Cable Network,” Boston Globe, 24 May 1984. Cambridge Vertical File, 051, Subject File Cable Television, Cambridge Room, Cambridge Public Library Archives and Special Collections.

[4] “American Cablesystems Corporation”, Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) Records, 1984-2016, 147, Box 1, 1984 Cable Proposal Section 16 (cont.), American Cablesystems Booklet, Cambridge Room, Cambridge Public Library Archives and Special Collections.

[5] “Agreement Between the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts and Cambridge Community Television, Inc.” 2001. Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) Records, 1984-2016, 147, Box 4, Grant Agreements 2001, 2005, 2011, 2016, Cambridge Room, Cambridge Public Library Archives and Special Collections.

The Atlas Collection Is Now Available

A map of Boston from 1871 in the Atlas Collection in the Cambridge Room.

We are pleased to announce that the Atlases, 1873-1930 Collection is now available for research.

Collection Overview
This collection contains atlases on the subjects of Cambridge, Middlesex County, and Massachusetts by various surveyors, including G. M. Hopkins, G. W. Bromley, and George H. Waker.

The Haley and Aldrich Reports Are Now Available

The boxes of the Haley and Aldrich Reports available in the Cambridge Room.

We are pleased to announce that the Haley and Aldrich Reports, 1980-present are now open to research.

The reports authored by Haley & Aldrich cover three Cambridge locations: W.R. Grace in North Cambridge, Harvard University’s Oxford Street parking facility, and Harvard University Law School at Everett Street and Massachusetts Avenue.

The W.R. Grace site, located 62 Whittmore Avenue in Cambridge near Rindge Avenue along Alewife Brook Parkway and next to Russell Field, was polluted with 650,000 to 1.2 million pounds of asbestos due to a history of manufacturing processes that contaminated soils and underground water. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic substances, and heavy metals have also been found on the site and adjacent Russell Field. Before the 20th Century, the site was a marshy field, mined for clay by several companies. From 1919 to 1940, Dewey and Almy manufactured rubber and rubber based products and later developed dispersants, such as DAXAD, before being bought by W.R. Grace in 1954. After three decades of transportation planning, including the extension of Route 2, the proposed Inner Belt plan, and the construction of the MBTA’s Red Line, Cambridge’s Community Development issued a master plan for Alewife redevelopment. In 1987, W.R. Grace submitted proposals for an office complex along the 27 acres. After years of testing revealing contaminated soil and groundwater at both the site and the neighboring Russell Field, plans for development were halted. W.R. Grace hired Haley & Aldrich, Inc., an underground engineering and environmental consulting firm, to manage the site, which includes planning for development, participating in community planning, and testing.

In 2002, Harvard University was required to submit a Release Abatement Measure (RAM) plan for its Oxford Street parking facility.

In 2007, Harvard University was cited for a release or possible release of oil and/or hazardous material at Story and Wyeth Halls and Baker House at 23 Everett Street. Story and Wyeth Halls were dormitories for Harvard Law School students. Wyeth Hall was demolished in 2007 for the construction of Harvard’s newest law school building at 1585 Massachusetts Avenue.

Collection Overview
This collection contains environmental reports authored by Massachusetts-based consulting firm Haley & Aldrich that were deposited with the Cambridge Public Library, usually in accordance with a Public Involvement Plan developed for a particular project. While most of the collection consists of printed reports, there are also audiocassettes and transcripts of public meetings held in June 1999. Some of the reports are on CD or DVD rather than in paper format

Henry M. Nevin Correspondence Is Now Available

These 1942 Postcards can be found in the Henry M. Nevin Correspondence.

We are pleased to announce to the Henry M. Nevin Correspondence, 1942-1949 is open for research.

Henry Miller Nevin was born November 5, 1914 in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, to Franklin T., a lawyer, and Elizabeth B. Nevin. He had a sister, Margaret, who was eight years older than him, and an older brother, Franklin, Jr., died in 1920. His family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts in the mid-1930s and lived at various addresses, including 43 Thorndike Street and 34 Ash Street.

Nevin received an A.B. from Williams College in 1936 and an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1938. After his father’s death, Nevin lived at 1 Waterhouse Street in Cambridge with his widowed mother. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on December 16, 1942. For most of his term of service, he was stationed in Darjeeling, India.

Nevin worked in finance when he returned to the United States after his military service. He was an analyst and wrote a weekly investment advice column for United Business Service until his retirement in 1984. He was also on the board of the Pax World Fund, a mutual fund with a mission to make socially responsible investments, in its early years.

Nevin was a deacon of the Cambridge Congregational Church and was involved with a number of charitable and human services organizations, including the Massachusetts Fair Housing Commission, the City Mission Society, the Margaret Fuller House, and Interfaith Housing, Inc. He also served on the City of Cambridge Civic Unity Committee. Nevin died on July 12, 1992.

Collection Overview
The Henry M. Nevin correspondence consists of letters, postcards, and V-mail written by or to Nevin while he was serving in the military during World War II. The largest portion of the collection consists of letters and V-mail written by Nevin to his mother, Elizabeth (Mrs. Frederick Nevin). Many of the letters are very detailed and provide interesting information about Nevin’s daily routines, activities, and surroundings. There are about 40 letters and V-mails written by Nevin’s mother to him which provide glimpses of life back in Cambridge. The other major correspondent is James Barraclough, a friend who also served in the military; there are about 10 pieces of correspondence from Barraclough, some from the years after the war’s conclusion. The collection also includes a small number of pieces of correspondence to or from other people, as well as Nevin’s Office of Dependency Benefits application approval card and some address lists and notes.

The Alfred Cavileer Jr. Correspondence Is Now Available

A 1943 Naval Christmas letter from the Alfred Cavileer Jr. Correspondence in the Cambridge Room.

We are pleased to announce that the Alfred Cavileer Jr. Correspondence, 1942-1948 is now available for research.

Alfred Cavileer Jr. was a naval combatant in World War II. He was stationed at the San Francisco Naval Base.

Collection Overview
The Alfred Cavileer Jr. correspondence consists mainly of letters written by or to Cavileer while he was serving in the military during World War II. The largest portion of the collection consists of letters written by Cavileer to his mother, Mrs. Alfred Cavileer. Many of the letters are very detailed and provide interesting information about Cavileer’s daily routines, activities, and surroundings. Another frequent correspondent is Cavileer’s brother, Robert. Some letters are addressed to both his mother and brother. One folder includes letters written to Alfred Jr. by people other than his mother and brother. The collection also includes a small number of pieces of correspondence to or from other people, as well as a few religious service programs and receipts.

The Alice K. Wolf Papers Are Now Available

A delegate badge from the 1988 Democratic National Convention in the Alice K. Wolf Papers.

We are pleased to announce that the Alice Wolf Papers, 1963-2011 are now available for research.

Alice Koerner Wolf was born December 24, 1933, in Austria. Her Jewish family left Austria in 1938 because of Nazi persecution and immigrated to Brighton, Massachusetts. She attended high school at Boston Girls’ Latin School. Wolf received her B.A. in Experimental Psychology from Simmons College in 1955. Her first professional job was with MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, where she conducted research using the Memory Test Computer. She later worked for several technology companies before shifting her focus to politics. Wolf earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1978.

Wolf has been an active figure in Cambridge, state, and national Democratic politics for more than five decades. Wolf’s interest in public service and politics began with her involvement in the Parent Teacher Association at Peabody School. She then was elected to the Cambridge School Committee, serving from 1974 to 1982. She lost her first election to Cambridge City Council in 1981, but won in 1983 and four more times after that, serving from 1984 to 1994. She was elected the Vice Mayor of Cambridge from 1988 to 1989 and the Mayor of Cambridge from January 1990 to January 1992. Wolf decided not to seek reelection in 1993 and instead set her sights on a higher office. She won her first election to the Massachusetts State House of Representatives in 1996, and served in that body until her retirement at the conclusion of her term in January 2013.

Wolf’s major areas of interest include services to the poor and homeless, education, affordable housing and rent control, elder services, child and family services, and gay and lesbian issues. She has received many awards and honors for her public service activities, including an honorary doctorate from Wheelock College in 2001.

Wolf married Robert Wolf and they are longtime residents of Cambridge and have two sons.

Collection Overview
The collection contains correspondence, reports, meeting minutes, news clippings, and printed materials related to Alice Wolf and the various public offices she held throughout her political career as well as materials related to local, state, and national Democratic politics more generally. The collection also contains photographs, audiovisual materials, and realia related to Wolf’s career. All phases of Wolf’s political career are represented, with the City Council tenure documented most thoroughly. Most of the material from her tenure as Massachusetts State Representative relates to elections. There is relatively little material related to Wolf’s activities outside of politics and public life, though some biographical materials are included