Category Archives: Genealogy

The Black Population of Cambridge by Census Year, 1790 – 2020

George Washington Lewis Jr. family at 47 Parker
Street. Photo ca. 1900. The Lewis Family, a large extended family, were a well known African American family who first established roots in Cambridge in the early 19th Century.
Census Year Total PopulationNumber of Black ResidentsPercent of Population
17902,115602.8%
18002,453251.0%
18102,32339*1.7%
18203,295531.6%
18306,072791.3%
18408,409770.9%
185015,215140**0.9%
186026,0603541.3%
187039,6348222.1%
188052,6691,5042.9%
189070,0281,9882.8%
190091,8863,8884.2%
1910104,8394,7074.5%
1920109,6945,3344.9%
1930113,6435,4194.8%
1940110,8794,8584.4%
1950120,7405,2804.4%
1960107,7165,6715.3%
1970100,3616,7836.8%
198095,32210,41810.9%
199095,80212,93013.5%
2000101,35512,07911.9%
2010105,16212,25311.7%
2020118,40812,52010.6%

*includes West Cambridge (1 person)
*includes 41 listed as Mulatto and 99 listed as Black

Citations:
1790, 1800, 1820, 1840, 1860, 1880, 1900, 1920, 1940, 1960, 1980, 2000: from Slavery and Its Aftermath in Cambridge by Charles Sullivan, Executive Director, Cambridge Historical Commission, 13 January 2021. Available here: https://www.cambridgema.gov/-/media/Files/citymanagersoffice/monumentsadvisorycommittee/Slavery_and_its_Aftermath_in_Cambridge.pdf.

1810: Total from column, “all other free persons except Indians not taxed,” in 1810 census

1830: Total from column, “free colored persons,” in 1830 census

1850: Counted total from race column in the 1850 census

1870: Census totaled from race column in the 1870 census. Column totaled as “colored” and includes Black and Mulatto. Ward 1: 87; Ward 2: 626; Ward 3: 9; Ward 4: 82; Ward 5: 18. Total 822.

1890: Compendium of the Eleventh Census: 1890, Part I Population, Department of the Interior, Census Office, 1892. Cambridge is on page 552. Available here: https://www.google.com/books/edition/Compendium_of_the_Eleventh_Census_1890_P/L2tVWSA9xUAC?hl=en&gbpv=1

1900-1910: Negro population in the United States, 1790-1915, edited by William Loren Katz, 1968. Available here: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=pst.000053752499&view=1up&seq=104&skin=2021&size=125&q1=cambridge1950: https://www2.census.gov/library/publications/decennial/1950/population-volume-2/38840572v2p21ch4.pdf.

1910-1930: Negroes in the United States, 1920-1932, by United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1935. Available here: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiug.30112047636300&view=1up&seq=83&size=125&q1=cambridge

1970: 1970 Census of Population, Characteristics of the Population, Massachusetts, 1973. Available here: https://www2.census.gov/prod2/decennial/documents/1970a_ma-01.pdf

1990: Comparison of Cambridge, MA. U. S. Census Short Form Results:
1980, 1990 & 2000
, Cambridge Community Development, 17 May 2004. Available here: https://www.cambridgema.gov/-/media/Files/CDD/FactsandMaps/PopulationData/Citywide/census_1980to2000_sf1_comp.pdf

2010: Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010
Demographic Profile Data
, U.S. Census Bureau, 27 June 2011. Available here: https://www.cambridgema.gov/-/media/Files/CDD/FactsandMaps/PopulationData/Citywide/census_2010_sf1_profile.pdf

2020: Cambridge: Population and People, U.S. Census Bureau. Available here: https://data.census.gov/cedsci/profile?g=1600000US2511000

Cambridge Population: From Cambridge, Massachusetts Wikipedia Page, Demographics. Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambridge,_Massachusetts#Demographics

A Teenager Was Bullied. His Ancestors Saved Him – The New York Times

Dennis Richmond Jr. dove into his family history at an early age and was fascinated by the ancestors he discovered. From the New York Times (26 February 2021)

In March 2008, Dennis Richmond Jr. watched “Roots” with his father, and it changed his life. It was a Sunday, the Richmonds’ day for leafing through family photographs in their apartment in Yonkers, N.Y., looking at relatives going back about a century. “Roots,” Alex Haley’s semifictional account of his family’s journey from West Africa, posed a challenge: How far back could young Dennis trace his own ancestors?

After watching the mini-series’ first DVD, he ran upstairs to ask his mother about the names of her relatives. Then that evening, Dennis, a studious 13-year-old, went on the family computer and found a 1930 United States Census entry for his maternal great-grandmother. The listing included the name of her father, Brutus Bowens, born in 1889 in South Carolina.

Brutus!

“That just did something for me,” Mr. Richmond said. “That’s where the story begins: St. Stephen, South Carolina.”

Mr. Richmond, now 26, a writer and substitute teacher, is the kind of person who begins sentences, “I was born in 1995,” or “My father was born in 1955.” When he thought about his grandmother having parents, who in turn had parents, he was floored. “It blew my mind,” he said. “The seed was planted. And I’ve been steadfast ever since.”

Read more of this fantastic New York Times Article.

Juneteenth Celebration, Wednesday June 19: Robert Johnson’s Cambridge Connection


Robert Johnson’s signature from the Johnson Family Bible, a new Cambridge Room acquisition.

Join us to commemorate Juneteenth, the holiday celebrating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the former Confederate States of America, by exploring the fascinating life of Robert Johnson, fugitive slave and abolitionist, and his connection to Cambridge.

We will offer two programs on the same evening:  a genealogy workshop and a reception and talk.

Workshop:  The Robert Johnson Family Tree:  Researching an African American Abolitionist Family
We will explore the paths our genealogical research took, plot out the Robert Johnson Family tree and his connection to Cambridge, and offer tips for researching African American genealogy.

Date & Time:
6:00pm – 6:45pm, Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Location:
Main Library, Cambridge Room
REGISTER HERE

Talk and Reception:  The Robert Johnson Family Bible
Come see an important new Cambridge Room acquisition and learn about Robert Johnson, fugitive slave and abolitionist, and his family’s connection to Cambridge.  This is the first in a series of programs featuring gems from the Library’s Archives and Special Collections.

Date & Time:
7:00pm – 8:00pm, Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Location:
Main Library, Cambridge Room
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: Anna Nechame Zelikovich Milkes Resnik produced by Jill Robin Roff

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: Gravestone Mysteries, produced by Gilda Bruckman

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: Climbing My Tree, produced by Suzen Perry

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: Lestra, produced by Lestra Litchfield

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: A Mixed Marriage, produced by Jeanne Eberhart

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.