A century ago, the Fourth of July was a chance to meld old and new traditions

Members of the Greek contingent in the Fourth of July Parade of 1915.

In the early 20th century, the Fourth of July offered concerts, lectures, parades and sporting events to residents of Cambridge and many cities around the country. Whether celebrating in their own neighborhoods with luncheons hosted by local civic or religious groups, playing in or watching a pickup baseball game or track race, or watching the fireworks from the banks of the Charles, Cantabrigians had plenty of options for marking the nation’s birthday. But during the decade between 1910 and 1920, events around the world and across the nation made their way into the city’s Independence Day celebrations, demonstrating how the meaning of the holiday had grown and changed. The holiday is still evolving a century later.

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S&S Restaurant is still serving up the comfort after more than a century in Inman Square

The S&S Restaurant storefront in Inman Square in June 2019.

by Deb Mandel, 2022 In the decade preceding Cambridge Electric Light’s illumination of Cambridge Street, when trolley tracks ran from Inman to Porter Square, a little delicatessen began welcoming hungry patrons. From its opening in November 1919, Rebecca “Ma” Edelstein greeted guests with “es and es,” Yiddish for “eat and eat” – the phrase that lent the…

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Cambridge and the Smallpox Epidemic, 1893-1903

By Beth Folsom, 2021 In our current era of COVID-19, heated discussions of vaccine mandates and the class and racial tensions inherent in these conversations may seem like a contemporary dilema, but an examination of Cambridge at the turn of the 20th century reveals that the city engaged in similar debates around the issue of…

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Fall Conversation: How Has Food Mended Cambridge?

Over the course of 2021, History Cambridge has been exploring the ways in which the city has repaired its social, economic, and political fabric in the wake of historical crisis points—as well as the ways in which the need for mending remains. As a means of both physical and emotional nourishment, food has played a…

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Waves of Cambridge Migration: An Update

By Doug Brown, 2018 Why do people uproot their lives, move far from friends and family, and suffer the indignities that often come with being “new” to a place? Sometimes it’s for an education, or a different job, or a new relationship. Or maybe it’s simply to escape difficult circumstances, to reinvent oneself. The short…

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Early Days at Newtowne Court

By Jane McGuirk Richards, 2014 We moved into Newtowne Court, door 30, apartment 265, in 1938, when I was one year old. We were among the first families to move in. There were seven of us, five children—two sets of twin girls and a single boy. Newtowne Court was a new concept in low income…

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“The Absolute Majority of the Population”: Women in Twentieth-Century Cambridge

This article was originally published as a chapter in Cambridge in the Twentieth Century, edited by Daphne Abeel, Cambridge Historical Society, 2007.  Inspired by Cambridge Historical Society’s 2020 theme—Who are Cambridge Women?—the author, Eva Moseley, has reviewed the manuscript and made a few updates which are noted in the text that follows. “The Absolute Majority…

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Some Aspects of the East Cambridge Story

By John W. Wood, 1956 “This paper gives a totally inadequate account of an appealingly picturesque and colorful neighborhood, the area that might have been a slum and isn’t, the step-child of the University City. “ For some reason, the local history of East Cambridge has been almost completely neglected. It is a little hard…

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