Category Archives: Uncategorized

Open Archives: Born in Cambridge

Date & Time:
June 6, 2023
6:30 – 7:30 pm
In Person
Cambridge Room, Main Library

Visit the Cambridge Public Library’s Archives and Special Collections during this year’s Open Archives:  Born in Cambridge.  View feminist quilter Jennifer Regan’s stitched narratives and explore her personal papers, journals, and sketchbooks to discover the artistic process behind the 100 pieces she created while living in Cambridge..  Registration is required.


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

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

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,, 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).

Register for Cambridge by Map

Date & Time:
March 4, 2021
12:00pm – 1:00pm

Cambridge by Map
How old is the Cambridge Public Library? What was Cambridge like in the late 19th and early 20th centuries? How has the city changed, and how has it stayed the same? Join the Leventhal Map Center on a virtual walk through historic Cambridge.  Using Atlascope, a tool for exploring urban maps in metropolitan Boston, the Map Center’s Public Engagement & Interpretation Coordinator Rachel Mead will take us on a trip into Cambridge historical geography.  Learn  how the city has changed over time, and discover how to research the history of your own house and neighborhood.  This event will be broadcast online at the Leventhal Map Center’s YouTube Live and Facebook Live channels.

Help Us Preserve the Cambridge Chronicle

Did you receive the Cambridge Chronicle during the shutdown?
Unfortunately, the Library didn’t.  We microfilm and digitize the Cambridge Chronicle annually so that we can make the City’s newspaper of record available to anyone in perpetuity.

We are looking for the following issues:

March 19
April 2
April 9
April 16
April 23
April 30
May 7
May 14
May 21
May 28
June 4
June 11
June 18
July 9

Please help us preserve Cambridge’s newspaper of record!  Without your help much of the city’s history for 2020 may be lost.  E-mail

Small Pox Scourge: A Viral Outbreak in Cambridge 118 Years Ago

From the Cambridge Chronicle, 21 June 1902, pg. 4.

Despite having a vaccination for the disease, Small Pox was a major threat to communities at the turn of the Twentieth Century.  When an outbreak happened in Cambridgeport (or what we consider today The Port or Area IV), the city was swift to take action.  Libraries, Schools, and Churches closed.   The names of those infected were printed in the paper.  The Board of Health mandated that every inhabitant of Cambridge be vaccinated.  Those who didn’t comply would be prosecuted.

The following Sunday, no church services were held in Cambridge – a historical fact that the Cambridge Chronicle noted.  “Sunday was a remarkable day in the history of Cambridge, in that one might seek a long time and find no church open for public worship.” (Cambridge Chronicle, 28 June 1902, p. 4).

Within a week of taking prompt action and basic public health measures, the Small Pox epidemic in Cambridge was under control.  In the City’s Annual Report for 1902, the Cambridge Board of Health detailed all the cases, deaths, and households affected by the outbreak.  The Board of Health also detailed vaccination rates.  


Get Your Cambridge Black Trailblazer Bookmarks at the Library

Joyce London Alexander, first black chief magistrate in the United States, featured as one of seven Cambridge Black Trailblazers.

Stop by any of the Cambridge Public Library’s branches to pick up a Cambridge Black Trailblazer bookmark.  Made by Cambridge’s Black History Project, the bookmarks, beautifully designed and printed by CRLS students, feature the following individuals:

Entrepreneur Henry Owens
Civil Rights Activist Gertrude Wright Morgan
Renowned New Orleans Chef Leon West
Judge Joyce London Alexander, the first Black chief magistrate in America
Charles Leroy Gittens, the first Black Secret Service Agent
Educator and Simmons College Dean Elizabeth Rawlins
Roy Allen, one of the nation’s first Black television producers

You can find out more information about each of the above trailblazers as well as Cambridge’s Black History Project here.  Additionally, Cambridge Day recently published a piece about the project.

Bookmarks are going fast!


Researching the History of Your Cambridge House: Free Workshop

Researching the History of Your Cambridge House
Are you interested in learning more about where you live or the property you own? This hour-long, hands-on 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. We will provide laptops. Registration is mandatory.  We are offering two classes – but you only need to register for one!

Date & Time:
6:00pm – 7:00pm, Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Main Library, Community Room


Date & Time:
3:00pm – 4:00pm, Thursday, February 8, 2018
Main Library, Beech Room


Boston’s GFL’s 10-Point Demands to the Democratic Convention, 1972

Boston GLF’s 10-Point Demands Presented to the Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach, July 1972.  Found in “Biographies, Shively, Charles,” Cambridge Subject Files, 1817-Present.

Boston’s Gay Liberation Front (GLF) asked the above 10 demands be incorporated into the 1972 Democratic Party Platform.  The party didn’t respond to what must have been a radical request.  In fact the platform didn’t include anything on gay rights.  The only point that Boston GLF and the Democratic Party Platform agreed on was ending the war in Vietnam.  You can read the official platform, adopted on July 10, 1972, here.


How We Elect Cambridge Officials: A Discussion on Proportional Representation

How We Elect Cambridge Officials: A Discussion on Proportional Representation
Monday, November 6, 6:30 PM
Lecture Hall, Cambridge Main Library

Cambridge municipal elections happen on Tuesday, November 7th. Do you find it curious that we rank our candidates numerically when we vote? Did you know that this process of voting is called Proportional Representation? Do you know how Proportional Representation works? Do you know how it came to be that Cambridge adopted this system?

Join us for a lively panel discussion with experts on Cambridge political history. Discover how Proportional Representation works in our city. Learn just how much your vote counts to be better prepared for the November 7th election.

Panelists include Howie Fain (Co-founder of Fair Vote), Glenn Koocher (former Cambridge School Committee Member), Susana Segat (former Cambridge School Committee Member), and Robert Winters (founder of Cambridge Civic Journal).

Howie Fain
In 1992, Fain Co-founded Fair Vote, a nonpartisan champion of electoral reforms that give voters greater choice. He served as the President of the Fair Ballot Alliance of Massachusetts from 1991-1997. Fain has been a consultant to the Cambridge Election Commission, authoring the 1994 report, Computerizing a Cambridge Tradition. Fain serves as an Executive Committee Member of VoterChoice Massachusetts and is a science teacher in the Worcester Public Schools.

Glenn Koocher
A native of Cambridge, Mass., Koocher served on the Cambridge School Committee from 1974-1985. He was the budget chair during the implementation of Proposition 2 1/2 and was actively engaged in the city’s multi-year desegregation effort. Koocher was the founding host of Cambridge InsideOut, a weekly TV show on CCTV focusing on current events that aired from 1989-2000. He has written extensively on the political history of Cambridge. Koocher is currently the executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees.

Susana Segat
Segat was a member of the Cambridge School Committee from 1996-2001. She was the first Hispanic elected official in Cambridge to serve a full term and win re-election.  Segat was the founding chair of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, on which she served from 1999-2008.  A longtime union official, Segat was the President of the Local Service Employees International Union (SEIU) from 2003-2009.  In 2013, she cofounded CCTV’s Cambridge InsideOut, a remake of Glenn Koocher’s original TV show, focusing on Cambridge politics.  Segat cohosts the biannual Cambridge municipal election night on CCTV.  She is currently the Chief of Staff at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

Robert Winters
Winters is the founding editor of the Cambridge Civic Journal, an online news source that monitors the Cambridge political scene. Starting in 1989, he spearheaded the campaign to bring curbside recycling to Cambridge. He ran for City Council several times in the 1990’s. Since 2013 he has been the co-host of CCTV’s Cambridge InsideOut, a remake of Glenn Koocher’s original TV show, focusing on Cambridge politics. Currently, Winters is a Lecturer in Mathematics at MIT and the Harvard Extension School.