Posts Tagged ‘Cambridge City Council’

Cambridge City Council Hearing at Rindge Tech auditorium on the death of Larry Largey, young people from the Roosevelt Towers area, October 1972, copyright Olive Pierce.

Thank you to Scout Cambridge for their recent article, From Rent Control to Riot Squads: The Photographs of Olive Pierce, profiling the amazing work of documentary photographer Olive Pierce as well as the work we do in the Cambridge Room.


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Tired of Summer? Tired of the muggy heat? Good! Because today we are going to pretend its winter.

While going through the vertical file the other week this item caught the eye.


The annual sleigh-ride of the Cambridge City Council? Yup, sleigh-ride. Sleigh rides were popular entertainment in the Victorian winter time. The Cambridge newspapers hold numerous postings about YMCA sleigh-rides, church sleigh-rides, women’s clubs and the city government.  Who would have known? Well not the archivist of the city papers because as a January 15, 1881 Cambridge Chronicle points out, the revels were “not to be printed with the city documents”.

And why is that? Well it seems like the good gentlemen of the city government had a little more fun than the average stoic Victorian male should.  The sleigh-ride consisted of men from the previous term of City Councilors, now relieved of the “cares of office” and free to celebrate with a sleigh-ride to Lexington.


The newspaper description of the 1881 revealed that before hand they drank so much “milk” that the landlord complained that “the cows were dry and the sleighs ready”. Off they went whisking away, loudly singing such songs as “Mary Had A Little Lamb”. They stopped for a rest and proceeded to draw up a resolution (they must not have remembered that they were no longer actively serving) to give themselves the title “Honorable” but half of them were too drunk to sign it. Finally when they were all sober again and had eaten the listened to each other give speeches. After which were numerous dances and no doubt more to drink.

The journalist writes

…the small hours came round unnoticed, till finally few had strength left to even laugh aloud, but their faces had gotten so fixed in position that they were left at their various houses sometime toward morning still smiling over the frolic of the City Government of 1880.

The City Government of 1886 must have learned what sort of press bad behavior got their predecessors and the accounting of their sleigh-ride festivities is less than thrilling. They left on time, had a “smoking hot supper” and “reached Cambridge on their return at good Puritan hours” recounts the Cambridge Chronicle. Perhaps it just became too dull a tradition to maintain…

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Cambridge Chronicle 19 October 1918.

Cambridge had a long history of women doing police work as social workers under the auspices of the Social Services Center.  When in 1918, the city tried to pass an ordinance to hire and pay women police officers, the Cambridge City Council said no.  There was a lively discussion in which Councillor Apted argued for the city to pay for women already doing the work of police officers whereas Councillor Counihan declared it was an unnecessary expense.  Councillor Stratton asked for the Council on Public Safety to take up the matter, causing a delay in the city hiring women police officers.

It wouldn’t be until 1921 when Edith J. Taylor of 428 Broadway became the first women on the Cambridge Police force.    The brief history on Taylor’s career, written by the Cambridge Police Department, can be read here.


Edith J. Taylor, Cambridge’s first woman Police Officer.

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