Archive for the ‘Genealogy’ Category

Cambridge City Clerk, Donna Lopez, holding the City’s copy of the Declaration of  Independence, July 1776.

For the last session of our Beginner’s Genealogy Workshop Series, we met at Cambridge City Hall to tour the City Clerk’s records.  Cambridge City Clerk Donna Lopez opened the vaults to show us 171 years of birth, marriage, and death records.  We saw rows upon rows of neatly bound volumes marked with the year and stacked to the ceiling on shelves accessible by a library ladder.  In the temperature and humidity controlled vault, we saw boxes lined on shelves noted by year and type of vital record (i.e., birth, marriage, or death).  Lopez even dared to show us the bowels of the basement, where more records are kept in less optimal conditions.  It was a wonderful tour, showing the complexities of organizing, preserving, and storing vital records.

A highlight of the visit was Lopez’s recent discovery:  a copy of the Declaration of Independence.  It’s not the official version or even one of the 200 broadsides published at the time and distributed to the 13 colonies that were at war with the British.  The city’s copy of the Declaration of Independence is a transcription of either a broadside or an article that was published in a local newspaper.  The transcription was officially entered into the Selectmen of Cambridge record book for July 1776 with the following instructions:  copies of the Declaration of Independence are to be distributed to all the churches in Cambridge and read aloud to the congregants.

The first page of a copy of the Declaration of Independence recorded in the Cambridge Selectmen minutes, July 1775.


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The New England Historic Genealogical Society is sponsoring a day-long workshop on Italian family heritage on Saturday May 20th at the Dante Alighieri Society of Massachusetts.   The keynote speaker is Mary Tedesco, co-host of Genealogy Roadshow.    NEHGS’ Jeanne Belmonte, who was a guest speaker at the CPL’s Beginner’s Genealogy Workshop last month, will be giving a talk on how to apply for dual American/Italian citizenship.  The description of the workshop, including the day’s schedule and cost is available at AmericanAncestors.org.

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Lease of Markethouse to J. Wellington, 1815, Lucius R. Paige Papers (021)

The Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the Lucius R. Paige Papers are now available for research.

Rev. Lucius R. Paige was a Universalist minister, biblical scholar, historian, and public official. The youngest of nine children, he was born on March 2, 1802 to Timothy Paige and Mary (Robinson) Paige in Hardwick, Massachusetts.

As a young man, he read Hosea Ballou’s A Treatise on Atonement, which caused him to reject his parents Calvinist faith. In 1823 he wrote to Ballou describing the impact his work had on him, as a result he entered Ballou’s home in 1825 as a student. In 1825 he was settled and ordained in Springfield, Massachusetts where he remained for four years. He ministered for two years in Rockport before moving to Cambridge in 1832, succeeding Thomas Whittemore at the First Universalist Society.

Paige was married four times: first to Clarinda Richardson in 1826 by whom he had three children: Lucius R. Paige, Mary Jane Paige, and Henry Ballou Paige. His second wife was Abby Whittemore, sister of his colleague Thomas Whittemore. They had two children: a daughter Clarinda and a son Thomas Whittemore. He would marry Lucy Richardson in 1845 and Ann (Peck) Brigham in 1866.

Paige was heavily involved in town affairs, resulting in his resigning from the church in 1839. He served as Town Clerk from 1839-1840 and 1843-1846 and when Cambridge was incorporated, as City Clerk from 1846-1855. His public service continued with a career in banking until 1871 and as a representative in the Massachusetts legislature from 1878-1879.

He remained active in church affairs and preached occasionally for thirty years until failing health forced him to decline invitations. He suffered from bouts of illness over the years until dying in 1896 at the age of ninety-five. He is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Collection Overview
This collection contains manuscripts, town records, and hand drawn maps relating to Cambridge’s early history as collected by Lucius R. Paige. Paige maintained handwritten manuscript drafts, correspondence and personal notebooks throughout his research period.

Series 1 contains the handwritten manuscript of Paige’s book “History of Cambridge, 1630-1877”. Each folder contains around 25 pages of his manuscript. The series also contains handwritten copies of county probate files, deeds, and early town records of Cambridge.

Series 2 contains letters written by correspondents of Paige on the subject of local church histories and genealogies of Cambridge families. Paige was very interested in the histories of the founding families of Cambridge, and compiled the information he received into his notes that are found in the genealogical section of his History of Cambridge. As he himself was a reverend, Paige also kept correspondence with churchgoers around Cambridge who knew the histories of their own churches. This series is a substantial part of the collection.

Series 3 contains documents related to the general history of Cambridge including hand written copies of Revolutionary War muster rolls, and Paige’s personal endeavor to build a dike in Cambridge by his property. The Original Draft of the City Charter contains a handwritten manuscript of the Cambridge city charter with notations and edit marks in the columns. The Market House Records contain administrative records on the business of running a market house, including deeds and property documents while it was operating. The Cambridge Common, Town House, and Cambridge Bridge, records were donated by Charles Folsom in 1857. The records document Cambridge’s growing need in the 19th Century for modern infrastructure to meet the demands of the populace.

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The Massachusetts Genealogical Council is sponsoring an educational seminar on April 16th and 17th on genealogy and family history research.  The conference is at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel Marlborough, Mass.  Read more here.

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CR Collections

Our collections are now searchable online!  We’ll be adding new collections every week.  Search collections here.

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Photograph courtesy of Vintage Black Glamour.

Did you know that Ancestry.com offers free genealogy courses.   RSVP for Using Ancestry.com Like a Pro airing Feb. 5 at 1 p.m. ET, and 5-Minute Friday: Find the Parents! airing Feb. 8 at 1 p.m. ET. Free, short classes are taught weekly by Ancestry.com experts and announced on Facebook.

Take advantage of these free webinars and stop by the Cambridge Public Library to use ancestry.com for free.


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Calling all genealogists, local history buffs, and historians!  Massachusetts Vital Records between 1620 and 1988 are now available on Ancestry.com.  Stop by the Cambridge Public Library to start searching.  Read more about this new collection from today’s Boston Globe.

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