2021 History Café Recap

This spring, thanks to the generous support of the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati and a grant from the Bridge Street Fund, a special initiative of Mass Humanities, History Cambridge was able to host two History Cafés exploring the rich history of the city’s Black community. Graduate intern Eshe Sherley created our Early Black Cambridge History Hub, a compilation of … Read More

Self-Guided Tour: Stories from the Early African American Community of Old Cambridge

By Jules Long, Longfellow House – Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site, 2018 | Edited by Eshe Sherley, History Cambridge, 2021 Slavery in Pre-Revolutionary Cambridge The oldest existing mention of slavery in Massachusetts was recorded in 1638, when African prisoners arrived in the colony on the slave ship Desire, built in Marblehead the previous year. In 1639, the mention of a … Read More

History Café: Harriet Jacobs and the World of Abolitionist Cambridge Women

Harriet Jacobs is best known for her autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, in which she chronicles her enslavement in North Carolina, her subsequent period in hiding in a tiny attic garret, and her eventual escape north to freedom. But Jacobs was also for many years a resident of Cambridge, where she ran boarding houses and was part … Read More

History Café: Three Centuries of Black Cambridge

On June 9 we were joined via Zoom by Dr. Janie Ward for a discussion of the changing geographies of Black Cambridge. This History Café built on our previous program on Harriet Jacobs and the world of Cambridge’s abolitionist women, tracing the threads of the Black experience through the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. We explored the ways in which … Read More

‘Quiet Courage’: Maria Baldwin and the Racial Politics of Education in Cambridge

By Beth Folsom, Program Manager, Cambridge Historical Society In her 1905 report to the parents of ten-year-old Edward Cummings, his principal Maria Baldwin described him as “a most loveable little boy, and we are glad that he is part of our little community.”[1] Nearly six decades later, when that little boy had become the celebrated American poet e.e. cummings, he … Read More

Phyllis Ann Wallace, A Leader for Equal Opportunity

Phyllis Wallace et all

By Annette LaMond* | S.M., MIT Sloan School of Management | Ph.D., Yale University  In 1975, Phyllis Wallace,1 then age 54, became the first Black  woman – and first woman – to receive tenure at MIT’s Sloan  School of Management. When Phyllis arrived at MIT in 1972, she rented an apartment in a tall-for-Cambridge building between Central and Harvard Squares. … Read More

Brief History of the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House and Enslaved People

In July 2019, the Cambridge Historical Society formed a task force to examine the Society’s institutional history and make recommendations about how to confront the organization’s white privilege going forward. One of the first steps was to research the history of the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House (HLN) (currently the Society’s headquarters) and its owners. Did the owners of the HLN own slaves? … Read More

Self-Guided Tour: Women Activists of Riverside 50 Years After Suffrage

Stop 1: Begin the tour in Central Square With the passage of the 19th Amendment one hundred years ago this past August (2020), American women won the right to vote. Rather than a culmination, this event marked the beginning of a long fight for equal treatment and equity that is still far from over. Fifty years after suffrage, classified ads … Read More

Helen Lee Franklin

We recently learned about a fascinating story-map series, Stories of the Great Migration, on the National Parks of Boston’s website. Boston served as one of the many destinations for African American southern migrants searching for new economic opportunities and fleeing discrimination during the Great Migration. One of the articles in the National Parks of Boston’s series tells the story of Helen Lee … Read More

Recap of 9/25/19 Claiming Our Seats: A Kitchen Table Dialogue on Women’s Voting Rights

Cambridge Women Vote Logo

Thank you to all who joined us as we discussed the upcoming 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, when women won the right to vote.  At this roundtable, we asked – which women? Dr. Jennifer Guglielmo, Rev. Irene Monroe, and Dr. Laurie Nsiah-Jefferson engaged us in a reflective dialogue about women’s rights across the 20th and 21st centuries, moderated by Andrea Asuaje. … Read More