Did you know that the Cambridge Room has made available over 350 digital items from our collections?  You can easily search and browse them on our new Flickr site.  Be sure to check back often because we add more digital items all the time.  As always, we will announce new digital collections here first.



Did you know that the Cambridge Room has 145 unique collections and is growing?   The descriptions of these collections are now easily searchable on our new database.  You can keyword search or browse by collection or subject.  Be sure to check back, we add more collections to the database all the time.  And, we always announce new collections here.

The Cambridge Room collections focus on the social and political history of Cambridge from the mid twentieth century to the present.


Harvard Square Development Taskforce, 1972, Cornelia B. Wheeler Papers (061)

The Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the Cornelia B. Wheeler Papers are now available for research.

Cornelia B. Wheeler, née Balch, was born in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, on September 3, 1909. She was one of six children of Franklin G. and Lucy (Bowditch) Balch. She was married to Leonard Wheeler from 1929 until his death in 1995. They lived in Cambridge throughout their marriage and had four children.

Wheeler was very active in Cambridge politics and civic life from the 1930s through the 1990s. She was elected to three terms on the Cambridge City Council (1964-65; 1966-67; 1968-69). After leaving the Council, she organized a citizens group that was involved in the development planning for Harvard Square. She donated a substantial amount of money for the Wheeler Water Garden in Danehy Park in Cambridge and it bears her name. Wheeler died on August 14, 2005.

Collection Overview
This collection documents the work of Cornelia B. Wheeler. The collection reflects Councillor Wheeler’s work on and off the Council. It includes extensive material regarding the Harvard Square Development Taskforce. Records also include meeting agendas, clippings, project material (e.g. Bennett Street Yard; Red Line Extension; parking; traffic; zoning); correspondence, and notes.


Stone arrowhead from Georgia and North or South Carolina, Charles F. Walcott Archaeological Collection (029).

The Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the Charles F. Walcott Archaeological Collection is open to research.  The objects have been digitized and made available here.

Charles Folsom Walcott was born in Cambridge on May 14, 1904 to Charles F. Walcott (1875-unknown) and Martha S. Enstos Walcott (ca. 1878-unknown). Walcott, Jr. is a graduate of Harvard College (1926) and Harvard Medical School (1931). Walcott was a general practitioner in Cambridge from 1933 until his retirement in 1986. Walcott was an assistant in medicine at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital until 1944 and an associate physician at Mount Auburn Hospital from 1936 to 1968. He also taught at the Haynes Memorial Contagious Hospital in Roxbury and was a clinical assistant at the medical schools at Boston and Harvard Universities. Walcott’s hobbies were birding and collecting Native American arrowheads, many of which he found in Concord, Massachusetts. He was a member of the Nuttall Ornithological Society and Massachusetts Archaeology Society. His pioneering study of 50 years of bird life in Cambridge, “Changes in Bird Life in Cambridge, Massachusetts From 1860 to 1864,” was published in the Auk, the American Ornithologist Union’s quarterly (volume 91, number 1, 1974).

He married Susan Cabot Walcott (1907-1998) and they had two sons Charles and Benjamin. The Walcott family lived on Sparks Street in Cambridge, where he conducted his famous bird study, until moving to Hancock, New Hampshire. The Walcott’s also had a summer home in North Haven, Maine.

Walcott died on July 1, 1989. Both he and his wife, Susan, are buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Collection Overview
Items came stored in a small gift box. The box contained a small curated collection of Native American archeological artifacts composed of 11 separate envelopes and 2 boxes. Each envelope was numbered, each object within had a numerical label, and the short descriptive label cards inside the envelopes both had the same numeric value assigned to the outer envelope. In total, the items were divided into 13 groups designed to be a small exhibition that was put on display at the Observatory Hill Branch Library (now the Boudreau Branch). No documentation exists to provide evidence as to how most of the objects came into Dr. Walcott’s possession, though he found a few of the items himself at Cambridge’s Fresh Pond in the 1960s and 70s and labeled them as such.

The Charles F. Walcott Archaeological Collection was a gift from Dr. Charles F. Walcott to the Cambridge Public Library sometime in the late 1970s, early 1980s. Items include a variety of Native American tools and implements, mainly arrowheads but also scraping tools for wood, gun flint, quartz, a stone drill, bone, and felcite. Not much is known about the individual items other than what little accompanying information was included – usually at most a single sentence. Some of the items are identified as having come from the American South West, South America, Georgia, and the Carolinas.

The only outlier to the Native American objects in the collection is a box containing two bullets and a minie ball from the Battle of Antietam.

Also accompanying the box is a wooden plaque from a painting of Dr. Walcott’s father, Charles F. Walcott, Sr. A portrait was commissioned, however the location of said portrait is unknown.

The Abstract Painting, 1985, Arnold, Dorothy Art Journals (035)

The Abstract Painting, 1985, Arnold, Dorothy Art Journals (035)

The Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the Dorothy Arnold Art Journals, 1938-2010  are now available for research. A curated selection of journal pages have been digitized and made available here.

Dorothy (Quincy Warren) Arnold was born to Dorothy Thorndike and Bentley Warren in 1924. She grew up in Massachusetts, first in Brookline and later in Manchester-By-the-Sea.  Arnold attended high school at the Beaver Country Day School in Chestnut Hill, Mass., graduating in 1939.  In 1943, Dorothy married David B. Arnold, Jr. (b. 1921) and had three children, David B. Arnold, III (b.?), Dorothy T. Arnold (b. 1945), and Virginia W. Arnold (b. 1947).  The Arnold Family lived in Concord, Mass. until Dorothy and David moved to Boston in 1994.

In 1956, Dorothy, known as “Doffie,” and her husband, David, began traveling extensively. David was the marketing director for Shipley Company in Newton, Mass. and he was responsible for visiting clients around the United States and the world.  Doffie often accompanied her husband and began documenting their trips by writing, drawing, and painting in journals.  After raising her family, she attended the Museum School of Fine Arts, Boston, graduating in 1980, and became an artist fulltime.

Arnold worked in landscape, abstraction, and figurative genres, and she specialized in ink and paper drawings, watercolor paintings, and oil paintings that were often large-scale. Arnold used the impasto technique and incorporated found objects such as glass, beads, and paper into her paintings.[1] Whitney Museum Curator Elizabeth Sussman describes Arnold’s work as a dialogue “between image and process, between drawing and painting, between abstraction and figuration.”[2]  According to Arnold, “The rhythms of nature have always influenced not only what I paint but how I paint. Be it sky, clouds, trees, or water, my hand and my body must become a part of the rhythm.”[3]

Arnold wanted to create cooperative and sustainable housing for serious artists and developed the Bent Street Artists Association, seven units from a run-down machinery storage facility at 243 Bent Street (the corner of Bent Street and Fifth Street) in East Cambridge, Mass. Arnold had an open door policy at her studio and it became her “clubhouse,” according to her son, David B. Arnold, III. She was active in the Cambridge community and invited students from across the city to her studio.  Arnold was the inspiration behind the Cambridge Creativity Commons, a Cambridge-based organization founded in 2011 bridging the gap between arts and science to offer STEAM programs to Cambridge students, and her studio was the organization’s home base for several years.  The 2014 Putnum Avenue Upper School Creative Journaling Project featured student-made art journals based on Arnold’s journal archive.  In addition to working with aspiring young artists in her studio, Arnold supported the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Lyric Opera, and gun control efforts.

Arnold’s work has been exhibited in solo and group shows in galleries across the United States, Europe, Asia, and Africa, and is featured in many corporate and museum collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the DeCordova Museum, the First National Bank of Boston, the Copley Society, WGBH, and the Massachusetts General Hospital.  Arnold has received numerous awards, including a Massachusetts Artist Fellowship in 1990.  In 2002, a retrospective of Arnold’s work began in Germany, traveled to Russia and Italy, ended in the United States.  In 2007, Arnold’s landscape, “Lime Rocks,” was featured in a temporary exhibit at the U.S. embassy in Yaoundé, Cameroon as part of the Art in Embassies Program.[4]

By 2010, two major changes happened in Arnold’s life.  She stopped painting because of advancing dementia.  And, the once industrial wasteland of the East Cambridge neighborhood where the Bent Street Artists Association is located began to be developed for commercial, government, and private use. The owners of the Association began to stray from the serious artist criteria. The provision was dropped as a requirement around 2011 and artists no longer began to occupy the space. As Arnold’s life changed and she could no longer maintain her studio, her family began the Doffie Project in 2013 as a way to honor her legacy, distribute her artwork at affordable prices, and raise money for charities.  Eighty percent of the profit from each sale went to the buyer’s choice of organization; 20% financed administrative costs.  Over two years, the Doffie Project raised $225,000 for a variety of charities, including the YMCA, the Charles River Conservancy, and the Home for Little Wanderers.  Arnold’s family sold the Bent Street studio in 2014.[5]  According to her son, David Arnold III, the studio was her greatest loss with the onset of dementia.

Works Cited:
[1] Dorothy Arnold | deCordova. (n.d.). Retrieved October 21, 2016, from http://www.decordova.org/dorothy-arnold
[2] Department of State – Art in Embassies. (n.d.). Retrieved October 21, 2016, from http://art.state.gov/artistdetail.aspx?id=101368
[3] Dorothy Arnold | deCordova. (n.d.). Retrieved October 21, 2016, from http://www.decordova.org/dorothy-arnold
[4] Department of State – Art in Embassies. (n.d.). Retrieved October 21, 2016, from http://art.state.gov/artistdetail.aspx?id=101368
[5] Archetto, DeAnna, “Bidding Adieu to Doffie’s studio in Cambridge,” Cambridge Chronicle, 27 November 2013.

Collection Overview
This collection contains the art journals of Dorothy Arnold, documenting her life and travels.   In 1938, Arnold began writing in journal, in 1958 began painting in journals. Spanning 62 years from 1938 to 2010, the journals document her trips to numerous countries across six continents.

The journals represent Arnold’s artistic evolution and they include her personal thoughts on art, her daily observations of life, and diary-like entries.  Many of Arnold’s sketches, drawings, and paintings were early versions of much larger works she would create on canvas.  Included in the journals are color classifications that Arnold assembled, showing her attention to studying and selecting colors.

Arnold’s art work is not limited to specific subjects and genres. From landscape to still life and from figurative images to abstractions, Arnold’s wide-ranging subject matter presents how explorative and experimental she was in pursuing her work.  While the inner world of emotions is shown in her abstract paintings, her use of colors are well presented in the landscapes and portraits.

Series 1:  Art Diaries, 1938-2010 contains Dorothy Arnold’s art journals.  The journals from 1938-1957 are in diary format with no artwork.  Arnold’s 1958 journal is the first journal with artwork.  Later journals, from 2000-2010, contain photographs of Arnold’s artwork, exhibitions, family, and friends.  There are also photographs that document her travels.

Series 2:  Art Supplies and Video Tape contains 6 examples (4 brushes, 1 spatula, and 1 baster) of the kinds of brushes and art supplies that Arnold used.


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.


Page 1 of handwritten copy of the original Constitution of the Cambridge Anti-Slavery Society, May 1836, Cambridge Anti-Slavery Society Records, (129)

The Cambridge Room is pleased to announce that the Cambridge Anti-Slavery Society Records are now available for research.  The records have been digitized and are available here.

Cambridge and Boston in the 19th century was a hotbed of anti-slavery activity from the preaching of William Lloyd Garrison to the talks given by Frederick Douglass. The American Anti-Slavery Society was formed by Garrison and Arthur Tappan in 1833. The following year, the Cambridge Anti-Slavery Society was formed and a constitution was written on June 3, 1834 with the purpose of raising awareness and petitioning the United States Congress for the total abolition of slavery. The group was led by Aretmas B. Muzzey who recruited like minded men in Cambridge who believed in the complete eradication of slavery. The Cambridge division became part of the larger, national group in 1834 and regularly sent members to anti-slavery conferences. The Cambridge Anti-Slavery Society continued operating until the 1840s, but there is no documentation as to when the society disbanded.

Collection Overview
The Cambridge Anti-Slavery Society Records contains one item, the Constitution of the Cambridge Anti-Slavery Society, a handwritten copy of the original constitution dated 1836.