Category Archives: Photographs

Happy Birthday James Baldwin!

Celebrated American author James Baldwin would have turned 96 yesterday. In honor of his birthday, we’re posting these amazing photographs of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin (CRLS) Black Student Union meeting Baldwin at Northeaster University’s African American Center in 1986. Baldwin, pictured in the center, died the following year.

These photographs are from the Caroline Hunter Papers. Hunter, a life long activist and retired CRLS math teacher and assistant principal, donated her papers to the Cambridge Public Library in 2019. We are working diligently to make them available to the public.


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 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

2015 Massachusetts Avenue Circa 1900


This photograph shows the 2000 block of Massachusetts Avenue, which is just north of Porter Square, featuring the business of Alexander Souter, house and decorative painter.  The building also houses a carpenter and a carriage painter and repairer.  The photograph, taken sometime between 1904 and 1909, is from the Cambridge Room’s Glass Plate Negative Collection (002).

Below is painter Alexander Souter’s advertisement from the October 19, 1912 edition of Cambridge Chronicle:

And here’s what 2015 Massachusetts Avenue looks like today:


Cambridge City Hospital School of Nursing: Elizabeth Conway’48 Memorabilia

Graduation photograph of Elizabeth A’Hearn Dorety Conway, class of 1948, from the Elizabeth A’Hearn Dorety Conway Papers (067).

Cambridge City Hospital School of Nursing:
Elizabeth Conway’48 Memorabilia

Exhibition Location: 2nd Floor of the Main Library

Six months after the Cambridge City Hospital opened to the public on June 1, 1917, it began a three-year program to train and graduate nurses.  The school was open to women “desirous of learning nursing” who had “a good education” and a doctor’s certificate of health.  Seven students enrolled in the first year and three graduated in the first class in June, 1920.

The school curriculum included practical work in the medical, surgical, obstetrical and children’s wards, operating room, X-ray and Out Patient Departments, and the “accident room.”  Students also took classes in various subjects ranging from Anatomy to Theoretical Nursing.  Students received a small monthly allowance that increased to $10 in their final year.  The nurses-in-training were expected to live at the hospital, a tradition that continued until the last of its students graduated in 1965. Featured in the exhibit is memorabilia from the Elizabeth A’Hearn Dorety Conway Papers.

Elizabeth A’Hearn Dorety Conway was born on March 11th, 1927 to William and Elizabeth A’Hearn.  Along with her seven siblings, Elizabeth grew up in an apartment on Raymond Street in North Cambridge.  She enrolled in the Cambridge City Hospital nursing program in 1945 and lived for the next three years on Camelia Avenue where the students were housed. One of Conway’s fondest memories in school was receiving her first nursing cape as a gift from her older brother Billy.  She also enjoyed the camaraderie of her classmates, teachers, and doctors.  She cherished her nurse’s bib signed by her friends and instructors.   Elizabeth graduated as a Registered Nurse in February of 1948.

After graduation, Elizabeth moved to Philadelphia where she held various nursing positions before marrying and having eight children.  She returned to nursing in the late 1970s.  Before she retired in 1990, Elizabeth was recognized by the City of Philadelphia for her dedication to nursing.  Conway died at the age of 87 on June 21, 2014.

001 005
Elizabeth A’Hearn Dorety Conway’s Nursing bib, signed by classmates, teachers, and doctors.

Collection Highlight: Timothy Dungan-Levant

Photograph of the Cambridge Public Library from the Timothy Dungan-Levant Photographs (046). 

The Cambridge Room has a new collection of photographs by local photographer, Timothy Dungan-Levant.  The collection includes photographs of the Library as well as street scenes of Cambridge.  See the full gallery here.

7th Annual Archives Crawl: New Acquisitions and Old Treasures, June 15-18, 2015

New Collection at the Cambridge Room, Rico, Jefferson Park, 1974,
© Olive Pierce.

Explore behind-the-scenes at eight unique Cambridge archives.


Several archives are participating for the first time. The MIT Museum’s Hart Nautical Collection will share its bounty. Visitors will enjoy a rare glimpse of archives at three Harvard museums: the Peabody and Semitic museums, and the Harvard Art Museums. Old favorites will return: Longfellow house, Cambridge Room, Radcliffe’s Schlesinger Library, and MIT Institute Archives.

See the complete schedule below.

How does it work?

Each day, two small groups will be welcomed into two neighboring archives at specific times, for 45 minute tours. Open Archives is a free event, but visitors must register in advance, as space is very limited. To register, please email and specify day or days. Registrants will be contacted with tour details. Send general questions to the archives email or call the Cambridge Historical Commission, 617 349 4683.

Tours visit the archive, NOT the site or the museum.

Monday, June 15, 4:00-6:00 PM
Longfellow House-Washington’s HQ National Historic Site AND
Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute

Tuesday, June 16, 3:00-5:00 PM
Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard AND
Harvard Semitic Museum

Wednesday, June 17, 6:00-8:00 PM
The Cambridge Room, Cambridge Public Library AND
Harvard Art Museums

Thursday, June 18, 3:00-5:00 PM
MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections AND
MIT Museum’s Hart Nautical Collection