Research a Building
Researching the history of your Cambridge home or another building in the city? These online resources from History Cambridge and other collaborators are the best place to start.
History Cambridge Resources
Search our website. You’ll find original research by History Cambridge staff, interns, volunteers, and community members, including articles, oral histories, and online exhibitions. Search results also include our finding aids, which describe archival materials you can make an appointment to view in person.
Other Cambridge Resources
Contact the Cambridge Historical Commission at 617-349-4683 for information about Cambridge buildings and businesses. The Commission are Cambridge’s experts on the built environment, with extensive photographic and archival records about the majority of buildings in the city.
Search the Cambridge Buildings and Architects database. This illustrated database, created between 1978 and 2022 by Christopher Hail, former librarian at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design is now archived and searchable at wayback.org.
Search the Historic Cambridge Newspaper Collection. This database contains all historic Cambridge newspapers that are in the Cambridge Public Library’s collection and do not have copyright restrictions. Fully searchable and freely available newspapers include the Cambridge Chronicle (1846–1923), Cambridge Press (1887–1889), Cambridge Sentinel (1903–1912), and Cambridge Tribune (1887–1923).
Search Cambridge City Directories. Search, browse, and download Cambridge’s City Directories published between 1848 and 1910. These contain street listings by last name and by street, business directories and advertisements, maps, ward maps, listings of city services and city officials, schools and colleges (private and public), associations, churches, and clubs. They also contain census data like state and city population totals.
Historic Cambridge Maps
1885 Sanborn map (via Harvard Library)
1900 Sanborn-Perris Insurance maps (via Harvard Library)
1903 Bromley atlas (via Harvard Library)
Boston Atlascope, a digital tool from the Leventhal Map & Education Center for exploring more than one hundred fire insurance and real estate atlases of Boston and its inner suburbs, showing detail down to the parcel and building level from 1860 through 1940.