In Response to the January 6, 2021 Insurrection

Dear Cambridge Historical Society Community,

The insurrections that took place on Wednesday, January 6, were shocking. The attacks on our Capitol and other locations across the country were an assault on our democracy, perpetrated by violent mobs that were populated predominantly by white nationalists. Like most Americans, we at the Cambridge Historical Society watched these coup attempts in horror, and we are stunned by the surrounding facts that continue to come to light. In response to these attacks, we feel compelled to state clearly that we stand in support of democracy, racial equality, and truth, and we renounce authoritarian rule, white supremacy, and racism.

Why would a local history organization feel it necessary to issue a statement on national events? Because what happened on January 6 happened to every American, from those who were there at the Capitol, to those of us watching, right here in Cambridge. History was made that day, and it’s still being made right now. It’s taking shape with every decision we make, every word that we speak or write, and every action we take in response to the insurrections. Each of us is responsible for our choices going forward. And so, we at Cambridge Historical Society are choosing to speak out right now—and, going forward, to act—in support of democracy, racial equality, and truth.

As public historians, we know that the truth is based on facts. Facts have been under assault in our country for quite some time, particularly over the past four years. Further, we acknowledge that our country has been struggling with issues of racism and oppression since its inception. These truths must be accepted, taught, and understood by all.

Cambridge Historical Society chooses truth, no matter how difficult it is to face. As part of that commitment, we are evolving, working to do better and be better as an organization. We are taking steps to confront our past, to grow and change, and to do responsible, thoughtful, and inclusive work throughout the city. We see it as our responsibility to represent history more holistically. We want to amplify the voices of all Cantabrigians, in keeping with one of our most closely held beliefs: we don’t do history at you, we do it with you. Never has this ideal been more important than now. History should be democratic—open to and made by all. We recognize that the writing of history has not been accessible to everyone, and we are working to change that. If you have thoughts on how we can improve, please let us know. We’re committed to doing our part in facilitating a more just and equitable historical record, right here in Cambridge, together with you.


Amy Devin, President, Governing Council

Marieke Van Damme, Executive Director