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A color photograph of the Weeks Bridge. There are two men sitting on the edge of the bridge letting their legs dangle over the water.

We are pleased to announce that the John and Ellen Moot Papers, 1903 – 1982 are now available for research. Select digital items are also available.

John and Ellen Moot were political activists in Cambridge. John (1922 – 2008), the son of Welles V. and Caroline E., was born in Buffalo, New York and moved to Cambridge to attend Harvard University, where he graduated in 1943 with a degree in engineering. During World War II, John served in the U.S. Navy, loading ships in England for the Normandy invasion. John returned to Harvard and earned an MBA in 1948 and launched the Cornwell Corporation, a kitchen supply company, in the 1950s. He later became a management consultant for failing companies. For over fifty years, Moot was active in Cambridge politics. In 1963, he launched a campaign to “Save Memorial Drive” from the proposed Inner Belt, the eight lane highway planned to go through Cambridge. He was also a founding member of People for the Riverbend Park Trust, PRPT, located at 99 Memorial Drive in Cambridge. In addition to serving as President of the Cambridge Civic Association, Moot held leadership positions in several other Cambridge civic organizations, including the Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee, the Charles River Watershed Association, the Harvard Square Defense Fund, and the Republican City Committee. In the 1980s, he was a mayoral appointee on the Water and Sewer Advisory Committee and the Technical Working Committee for the Computerization of the Cambridge Elections (TWCC). He served on city-wide study committees for Proposition 2/12, the water system, and municipal finance. In 1998, he co-founded the Association of Cambridge Neighborhoods with Stash Horowitz. John was the lead plaintiff in a suit brought against the State Department of Environmental Protection and the Guilford Transportation Company to block Cambridge’s NorthPoint development. In 2007, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in Moot’s favor.[1]

Ellen (Guild) (1930-2016) grew up in Boston, Mass. and graduated from the Shady Hill School (Cambridge, Mass., 1945), St. Timothy’s School (Stevenson, MD., 1948), and Radcliffe College with a degree in Government (1952). After receiving a Master’s degree in International Affairs at Yale University, Ellen worked at the Washington Center of Foreign Policy Research at John Hopkins University. She became engaged to John Moot while living in Washington, D.C., and the couple moved to Cambridge after they were married. In Cambridge, Ellen was as a research assistant at the Harvard Center for International Affairs (CFIA), where she worked with Henry Kissinger, Robert Bowie, and Joseph Nye. She served on the Boston World Affairs Council and the United Nations Association.

After her daughter was born in 1962, Ellen returned to the CFIA part-time and began working on political campaigns in Cambridge. She ran the successful City Council and State Senate campaigns of Alice Wolf as well as the successful City Council campaigns of Cornelia Wheeler. (Wheeler lost her bid for State Senate in which Ellen was the campaign manager.) She also worked on the School Committee and City Council campaigns of Frank Duehay. During this time, she partnered with Artistic Director and Conductor Benjamin Zander to found (and later become the Executive Director of) the Shady Hill Summer Arts Program.

In the 1970s, Ellen’s career turned toward the field of mental health and she served on the board of the Cambridge Guidance Center, the Metropolitan State Hospital’s Advisory Board, the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health’s Area Board, and as the President of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health’s Mental Health Center for Cambridge-Somerville.[2]

From 1983-2001, Ellen served on the board of the Cambridge Foundation. She was active in the Cambridge Historical Society, co-writing a chapter on the Coolidge Hill neighborhood, where she lived, for the book, A City’s Life and Times: Cambridge in the Twentieth Century (2007). Also, she played on Cambridge’s first women’s ice hockey team, founded in the 1970s and nicknamed the Mother Puckers. Outside Cambridge, Ellen was active in the Chocorua Lake Association in Tamworth, New Hampshire. Ellen was an avid sailor.

Ellen and John married in New Years of 1960 at the Unitarian Church in Boston. They were members of the First Parish Unitarian Church and patrons of local theater and opera. They have two children Amey (b. 1962) and Alex Moot (b. 1964).

[1] Anderson, Travis, “Moot Dies at 86, Successfully Fought Highway Through Cambridge,” Cambridge Chronicle, December 19, 2008. http://www.wickedlocal.com/cambridge/news/x1435867302/Moot-dies-at-86-successfully-fought-highway-through-Cambridge?zc_p=0. Retrieved 30 December 2013.

[2] Ellen Guild Moot, 1930-2016, Boston Globe, September 25, 2016. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/bostonglobe/obituary.aspx?pid=181469944. Retrieved 20 March 2017.

Collection Overview
This collection contains materials related to Ellen and John Moot’s work on preserving recreation areas around Memorial Drive in Cambridge, including People for the Riverbend Park Trust. There are several oversize materials, some of which like the Cambridge Civic Association Billboards are fragile. Jacek von Henneberg, author of the Memorial Drive Drawings, is a Polish artist and architect, who lived in Cambridge. The proposed underpass on Memorial Drive by Harvard Square was never created. The Save Memorial Drive poster has a reproduction of Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grande Jatte.

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Do you have a copy of the post-election November 10, 2016 edition of the Cambridge Chronicle?  If you’re willing to part with it, we’d love to be able to microfilm it.  We keep the Cambridge Chronicle in perpetuity and 2016 is incomplete.  Please help us preserve Cambridge’s newspaper of record!  E-mail apacy@cambridgema.gov.

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Bulletin de la Conference Haitienne Une Nouvelle Strategie, May 1984, from the Eddy Toussaint Tontongi Papers (034)

The  Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the Eddy Toussaint Tontongi Papers, 1984-2014 are now available to research.

Eddy Toussaint (aka Tontongi) was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. After studying poetry in high school in Port-au-Prince in the 1960s, Toussaint moved to Paris in 1974 and later to Reims to study French literature and philosophy. He has lived in the United States, in the Cambridge area, since 1976. In the 1980s, Toussaint adopted the name his mother gave him as a baby – Tontongi (Uncle Guy or Uncle Gi) – as a pen name.

Poet, critic, essayist, Toussaint writes in Haitian Creole, French, and English. His books of poetry include Cri de Rêve: La Manifeste Poétique de la Poésie Exilée, The Dream of Being: Liberation Poetry, the epic poem, The Vodou Gods’ Joy / Rejwisans Lwa Yo (about his experience growing up in a Voodoo temple), and In the Beast’s Alley: Poems of Conscience. His essays include a study of the first Aristide presidency, La Présidence d’Aristide: Entre Le Défi l’Espoir.

Toussaint has published several newspapers and magazines related to the Haitian Diaspora in the Boston area, including Nouvelle Stratégie (first published in 1984), Haiti-Progrès, Haiti en Marche, Boston Haitian Reporter, Left Curve, and Tanbou. He has contributed to several anthologies, including Vodou: Visions and Voices of Haiti, Open Gate: Anthology of Haitian Creole Poetry (the first translated poetry book of Haitian Creole), Revolution/Revolisyon/ Révolution: An Artistic Commemoration of the Haitian Revolution, and Liberation Poetry: An Anthology, Poetica Agwe: Essays, Poems, and Testimonials on Resistance, Peace and the Ideal of Being.

Toussaint is the editor of the trilingual literary-political journal, Tanbou (available online at tanbou.com), and the founder of Trilingual Press based in Cambridge, Mass. Tanbou, founded in 1992, seeks to “embody a written, artistic expression of a consciousness that is trapped, mystified and oppressed but which still maintains the struggle against the domination of the absurd.” Works are published in English, French, or Haitian Creole without translations so that equal importance is placed on each language. The first issue was published in January 1994.

Trilingual Press was founded in 2003, as a collective, collaborative and non-commercial press, which advocates the concept of koumbit (helping hand) to help publish work of interest in Haitian Creole, French, English, and other world languages and literatures. In 2004,Trilingual Press published its first book: Love and Other Poems by Haitian Youths by Paul Germain. The Press features local poets, including Dumas F. Lafontant, who lives in Cambridge.

Collection Overview
This collection contains journals, pamphlets, and books either written by or published by Eddy Toussaint Tontongi through Trilingual Press. The publications, which include poems, essays, and translations, are bilingual (English/Haitian Creole or French/Haitian Creole) or trilingual (English/French/Haitian Creole) and promote the Haitian Creole language or describe the Haitian Diaspora in the Boston area. The Trilingual Press publishes poetry, novels, essays, and translations.

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Kathryn Van Horn Leaving the White House after Receiving the Legion of Valor medal, from the Library of Congress Print & Photograph Online Collection.

Thanks to our colleagues in the CPL’s Teen Room, we recently learned all about Miss Van Horn:

Miss Kathryn Van Horn of White City, Ohio, leaving the White House just after President Roosevelt had presented her with the medal and the certificate for her brave act of saving two boys. Photo shows Miss Van Horn building the certificate and the Medal is pinned on her dress.  September 12, 1936.

Clara Kathryn Van Horn was the first person awarded the Legion of Valor medal.  According to the Chicago Tribune, twelve year old Clara “threw herself in front of a sled on which two boys were speeding helplessly into the path of an onrushing train.”Clara, an Ohio farm girl, was also given a scholarship to the Russell School in Cambridge, MA.

We did some research to trace Miss Van Horn’s life in Cambridge.  According to a Boston Globe article, published on 30 December 1936, Kathryn lived on Lexington Avenue with the Robart Family, Ralph W. Robart (Chairman of the State Division on the Necessities of Life), his wife (who is unnamed), Beatrice Robart (their 19 year-old daughter – a student at Framingham Teacher’s College), and the family dog Mitzi.  She attended the 7th Grade at the Russell School where her teachers were pleased with her work.  Kathryn planned to stay in Cambridge for another 9 months.

Unfortunately, the December 30th Globe article is where the trail ends.  Kathryn didn’t graduate from any of the Cambridge High Schools so she must have returned to Ohio at the end of the 8th Grade.

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The signature “CPL Red” was developed in the planning stages of the main library expansion project. The paint sample and interior design drawings are now part of the library’s archives and special collections. Paint Color Diagram, copyright William Rawn Associates Architects, Inc.

After 23 years as the Director of the Cambridge Public Library, Susan Flannery retires on April 1st, 2016.  During her tenure, Flannery has strongly upheld the librarian’s principals of free and open access to everyone, confidentiality, and customer service.  One of Flannery’s greatest accomplishments was her role envisioning, planning, and completion of the main library’s renovation, a 15 year-long project, that is the capstone to a career dedicated to public service.

Susan Flannery often wrote about equal access to library resources, freedom to information, and the protection of patron privacy in On & Off Broadway, a publication that had a 19 year print run.  In the July/August 2009 edition, Flannery wrote the following:

“Excellent customer service and responsiveness to the community are hallmarks of the Cambridge Public Library. We recognize that our mission extends beyond the provision of materials to a broader vision of the library that promotes free availability of information, the lively interaction of people and an open exchange of ideas that animate and extend our democratic aspirations.”

The Cambridge Room is looking forward to collecting and processing Susan’s 23-year history at the Cambridge Public Library.



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Library Page in the former metal stacks of the pre renovated Cambridge Public Library, ca. 1970s-1980s, from the Cambridge Public Library Records (011)

The Cambridge Public Library Pages of 40 years past could be identified in the building by their bright orange or blue smocks.  We have two smocks on display right now on the second floor of the main library.


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