Cambridge historical society

Overview: The Cambridge Historical Society’s collection primarily features holdings from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Its most numerous records are family and personal papers of Cambridge residents, as well as club records of local organizations such as the Old Cambridge Photographic Club, the Cambridge Garden Club, the East Cambridge Post of the Grand Army of the Republic (a Civil War Veterans’ group), and temperance groups. The Society also possesses a handful of business records, as well as an artifact collection of items created in or related in some other way to the city of Cambridge. CHS also houses a subject file collection of individual pieces of ephemera, including catalogs and pamphlets, on a wide variety of subjects.

American Revolution Materials: The CHS possesses letters, diaries, and sermons related to the American Revolution. The Papers of Mercy Scollay consist of 90 letters, the earliest seven of which were written between 1775 and 1778. Mercy was engaged to General Joseph Warren, and these early letters largely address his death at the Battle of Bunker Hill, Mercy’s care for his children and their movements amongst relatives, as well as the climate in Boston and the early events of the Revolution more generally.

The George Inman Diaries Collection consists of five diaries and a book of receipts (1780-1788). The first volume of the series is a reminiscence detailing Inman’s experiences as a Tory in the American Revolution: he lists British losses of individuals and ships and writes of his support for the British, his service as a British soldier in New York, and his flight with his new wife from Cambridge to England. Later volumes contain accounts of his daily life in England, Ireland, and Granada (West Indies) and further reminiscences, including a chronology of the war from June 1775 to September 1777, thoughts on Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill, and the Battle of Monmouth at their tenth anniversaries, and lists of regiments.

The Quincy-Hill-Phillips-Treadwell Papers also contains materials relevant to the American Revolution era. Series I (Quincy family) is comprised of letters which provide insight into eighteenth-century life, as well as an ode to General Montgomery following his 1775 death. Series II (Hill family) is more wide-ranging in scope, but includes letters from the Revolutionary era, deeds, and the pension benefit form of Revolutionary War soldier William Smith.

The Cambridge Historical Society also possesses a letter written by George Washington requesting supplies and sermons of Joseph Willard, President of Harvard, including one which discusses the Declaration of Independence soon after its signing.

Key Words: Battle of Lexington & Concord, Battle of Monmouth, Boston, Bunker Hill, Cambridge, Declaration of Independence, deeds, diaries, England, Harvard College, Hill family, George Inman, letters, Loyalists/Tories, memoirs, Richard Montgomery, New York, pensions, poems/odes, Quincy family, receipts, religion, Mercy Scollay, sermons, William Smith, soldiers/militia, Joseph Warren, George Washington, Joseph Willard

Collection Policies: The Cambridge Historical Society does actively collect materials and accepts donations. Finding aids are available in paper, as well as online for most of the processed collections. CHS does not loan materials and has both hosted exhibits and participated in consortium exhibits.