Visit the History Cambridge Archives

Cambridge community members, students, scholars, professional researchers, amateur historians, and anyone curious about local history are all welcome to access archival materials in person at our Brinkler Library.

To help preserve these irreplaceable items and ensure that our small staff is available to help, please read through our guidelines before making an appointment.

Before You Visit

Search our finding aids to identify specific boxes and folders that interest you.

Make an appointment at least one week in advance by emailing or calling 617-547-4252. Please provide box and folder numbers as well as some days that work best for you. Our office hours are typically Monday–Friday, 9 am–3 pm.

Sorry, we cannot accommodate drop-in researchers.

Searches are limited by time.

Fees may apply for more complex research requests.

Before you arrive, review the guidelines below for using the library.


Visiting the library

  • No food or drink is allowed near archival materials.
  • Only pencils may be used. We’re happy to lend you one.
  • Every item in our collection is unique, important, and often irreplaceable. We’ll provide gloves for handling objects that require a delicate touch.
  • Please keep all material in the same order as you received it. The arrangement of archival records is often as important as the information they contain. If something appears to be out of order or in need of repair, please tell the staff. Please close box lids while examining individual folders or loose objects from a box.
  • When you’re finished, leave all items on the table for staff to return and reshelve.

Photocopies and Reference Photos

Staff will make photocopies for you at their discretion. Photocopies are $0.50 per page plus postage if required.

Researchers are welcome to take photos for personal use—no flash please.

Citing History Cambridge in your research

When you sign in at the Brinkler Library, you are agreeing to cite History Cambridge/Cambridge Historical Society in footnotes, bibliographies, captions to photographs, museum labels, or acknowledgment frames in films, videos, slideshows, and on web sites.

Preferred citation: “Courtesy of History Cambridge/Cambridge Historical Society, [Collection Name], [Item number]. Cambridge, MA.”

Image Usage Fees

We license editorial, advertising, corporate, and digital reproduction rights. Imaging and licensing fees help support preservation, digitization, and access to our collections. For most personal, academic, nonprofit, and governmental uses, image licensing fees are minimal.

All fees must be paid in advance of receiving digital image files from History Cambridge and before publishing, producing, or broadcasting your project. Please note that licensing fees are in addition to imaging fees and any applicable research fees.

Pay online or mail a check to:
History Cambridge
159 Brattle Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

Questions? We’re happy to help at 617-547-4252 or

Collections Policy

Our Collections Policy (revised 2017) is a formal document that outlines the scope and strengths of our archival and object collections, establishes guidelines for accessing and using those collections, and guides our decision making about donations that are offered to History Cambridge. Please contact us for the full policy.