Here in Cambridge, we don’t do history for history’s sake. It isn’t enough to present history as events that happened. We need to dig deeper, and answer “so what?” and “who cares?” Our humanities-focused approach to tackling contemporary issues through conversation and perspective-taking is one we’re proud of.

Join us in making better citizens and a better city.

Catch up on the Cambridge Historical Society “In the News.”

Interested in joining our team? We have an open board seat! We’re looking to fill our Treasurer role. Read more [PDF].

The Cambridge Historical Society’s Brinkler Library is open for researchers by appointment. Please email or call to schedule your visit at least one week in advance. The Hooper-Lee-Nichols House is not handicap accessible.

Office hours: Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Phone: 617-547-4252
Email: info@cambridgehistory.org.

For information regarding event space rentals, see below.

Parking on Brattle and neighboring streets is Cambridge Resident Permit only. There are three two-hour parallel parking spaces directly in front of the house for visitors to use.

Founded in 1905 by a group of historians, the Historical Society initially met in private homes and on the Harvard campus to present lectures on Cambridge history. Beginning in 1906, these lectures were published as The Proceedings. A short time later, the Society began collecting books, documents, significant papers, photographs, and objects and together they made the basis for our current archival collection.

Since 1957, the Cambridge Historical Society has been headquartered at the historic Hooper-Lee-Nichols House.

About our Headquarters: the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House
The Cambridge Historical Society is headquartered in the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House, the second oldest house in Cambridge and one of the oldest houses in New England.

Like any historic home, it has been changed by its residents over the years and modified repeatedly to meet the style of the day. While it primarily reflects the Georgian Style of the 18th century, parts of the original First Period construction remain and one can see Victorian and Colonial Revival alterations from later generations.

You can read more about the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House here.

Cambridge Historical Society Staff

Staff
Marieke Van Damme, Executive Director
Rosemary Previte, Development and Administrative Associate
Irina Sandler, Archivist
Victoria Seawell, Assistant

Have questions about our public programs? Contact Lynn Waskelis, our Programs Specialist, at lwaskelis@cambridgehistory.org.

The Cambridge Historical Society
Hooper-Lee-Nichols House
159 Brattle Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
617-547-4252
info@cambridgehistory.org

Cambridge Historical Society Council

Officers

  • Tod Beaty, President
    President of IRB Real Estate, Tod Beaty is a 35-year resident of Cambridge and a graduate of Beloit College and of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. In 1981, Tod founded Ingram, Rettig & Beaty Real Estate, where he built the firm’s residential division before becoming President in 1990. In 1993, he joined forces with Hammond Residential’s Saul Cohen and Joe Hare to extend the firm’s reach in Greater Boston. Tod’s company has grown through a number of acquisitions that include the purchase of Ellis & Andrews, Cambridge’s oldest real estate firm, and the acquisition of Breed & Associates and Natoli Real Estate in Belmont. In 2016, Tod relaunched his business as IRB Real Estate, specializing in commercial real estate and property management in Cambridge and the surrounding areas. Tod is active in a range of community organizations including the Harvard Square Business Association, the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, and the Buckingham, Browne & Nichols School. He is currently the president of the Cambridge Historical Society.
  • Elizabeth Adams, Vice President
    Elizabeth Adams
    Liz was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Her love of all things historical began with exceptional teachers at the National Cathedral School for Girls. Her love of Cambridge began when she moved here in 1978 to attend Harvard College where she majored in American History and studied with Patricia Nelson Limerick, a noted historian of the American West. Liz received an MBA from the JL Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. She moved to Boston and worked as a Marketing Director for BayBanks, Boston Company and Fidelity Investments.  Liz is currently working on a memoir of her mother who was a Washington Post reporter in the 1950’s covering cultural events and the Eisenhower and Nixon families. “I love being a member of the Cambridge Historical Society which provides innovative programming on the history of Cambridge.”
  • Charlie Allen, Vice President
    Charlie, originally from Washington State, earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Harvard in 1970. After a stint working for various social justice causes he founded Charlie Allen Restorations in 1978. The firm specializes in urban period home remodeling. He has won several local Historic Preservation Awards, been an expert on Fox 25 Morning News, is a regular contributor to Old House Journal magazine, and been featured in numerous other national and local publications. He is active in local chapters of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) and The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Remodelers Council and has earned numerous industry certifications. Charlie’s work with the CHS began when he joined the CHS council in 2004 and assumed the position of Facilities Chair to oversee a Community Preservation Grant from the City of Cambridge. When not working on renovating period buildings, Charlie, an avid sports fan, can often be found playing basketball. He lives with his family in an 1839 Greek Revival house in Cambridgeport.
  • Doug Hanna, Vice President
    Doug Hanna grew up in West Medford and Cambridge. He attended the Cambridge High and Latin School and U Mass Boston. For 38 years, he and his partner Alex Slive were the owners of the Cambridge-based company S + H Construction. They sold the company to one of their project managers in 2016. Doug has managed the restoration and renovation of a number of historic structures in Cambridge. Doug continues to work at S + H, but develops his other interests including guitar playing, biking and hanging out with his grandson. His love of history, and learning that his family has deep roots in Cambridge, were instrumental in his involvement with the Cambridge Historical Society.
  • Doug Brown, Secretary
    Doug Brown
    Doug Brown was born and raised in Mystic, Connecticut, home of Mystic Seaport. A rower and American History major at Princeton, Doug arrived in Cambridge in 1999 by way of Maine, Colorado, New Orleans, Gloucester, and Hong Kong. Doug is active in local affairs, serving as vice president of the Fresh Pond Residents Alliance, the recognized neighborhood association for West Cambridge. In addition, he also serves as a member of the Fresh Pond Master Plan Advisory Board, the Envision Cambridge Alewife Working Group, Cambridge Bike Safety, and is the founder of Friends of the Greenway, Inc., a non-profit focused on supporting the soon-to-be-built Watertown-Cambridge Greenway. Friends of the Greenway recently received a $10,000 matching grant from the Department of Conservation & Recreation to create a series of historical markers along the new path. Doug enjoys skiing, cycling, collecting old tools, genealogical research, and contributing articles to the Society’s newsletter. He lives in Huron Village with his wife Dee Elms and three small children.
  • Heli Meltsner, Curator
    Heli Meltsner
    Heli Meltsner, CHS Curator, has been a preservation consultant in Cambridge since 1980, except for a nine-year stint as a Planner for the Town of Framingham. Her book, The Poorhouses of Massachusetts: A Cultural and Architectural History, was published in 2012. She was one of the editors of Saving Cambridge: Historic Preservation in America’s Innovation City, a book published by the Cambridge Historical Society in 2013. She serves on the Avon Hill Neighborhood Conservation District Commission.
  • Greg Bowe, Treasurer
    Greg has had a lifelong interest in local history, and served as the president of the Melrose Historical Society while he was in college. Greg is a graduate of Boston College. Although a new resident of Cambridge, he is not new to our city, as he has been affiliated with Cambridge Savings Bank for 15 years, currently as the First VP in Retail Administration, out of the bank’s Harvard Square headquarters. As a representative of the bank, and on his own, Greg is active in many non-profit organizations and serves on the board of the Housing Corporation of Arlington, which as part of their efforts to promote and develop affordable housing completed the restoration and renovation of the three historic buildings making up the Capitol Square Apartments. He also serves on a local Master Plan Advisory Committee. Greg recently moved to
  • Bruce Irving, Editor
    Bruce Irving
    Bruce Irving is one half of the Bigelow/Irving realtor team at Compass in Harvard Square, representing both buyers and sellers in and around Cambridge. He also runs his own consulting business, helping homeowners through the complex process of home renovation. He produced This Old House and its sister shows for 17 years; is the author of the book New England Icons, about the region’s built environment; writes about architecture for several publications, including Yankee and Design New England; and serves as vice-chairman of the Cambridge Historical Commission. He’s been in Cambridge since 1988 and lives with his wife in the Strawberry Hill neighborhood.

Councilors

  • Gus Alexander
    Constantine Alexander
    Constantine (Gus) Alexander is Senior Counsel to the Boston law firm of Nutter, McClennen & Fish, having retired from that firm as a senior partner for more than 25 years. He serves on the Cambridge Board of Zoning Appeals and currently is the Board’s Chairman. He also serves on the Board of Trustees and as the Secretary of Nichols College in Dudley, MA, and on the Board of Trustees and as the Treasurer of the Boston Chamber Music Society.
  • Pamela Baldwin
    An art historian and committed housing advocate, Pamela has a lifelong deep interest in the history of objects, places, and material culture, and in creative uses of historical structures and information for better understanding present and future challenges and opportunities. She especially enjoys studying old maps, and how places evolve over time, along with the perspectives that shape diverse interpretations of growth, decline, sprawl, gentrification, revitalization, or neighborhood change. A former Cambridge resident, she has worked and commuted in the city for over two decades, and is Deputy Director of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. In this role, she oversees the Center’s educational and outreach programs as well as communications, partnerships, and the development of mission-oriented events and programs. She also serves on several external advisory boards working on planning and community development issues, including CHAPA’s Policy Leadership Council. Pamela now lives in Arlington, where she is active in several non-profit organizations, and serves on the board of the Housing Corporation of Arlington and on the Town’s Housing Production Plan Advisory Committee. She holds her M.A. and Ph.D. in art history from Bryn Mawr College and has taught at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She attended Wellesley College, arriving in Massachusetts after growing up in Northern California only to discover herself a dyed-in-the-wool New Englander, and she has been steadily steeping herself in local history ever since.
  • Christina DeYoung
    Christina DeYoung
    Christina DeYoung is Director of Sales and Marketing at the Harvard Education Publishing Group and will graduate with a degree in Museum Studies from Harvard Extension School in May 2017. She also received a Nonprofit Management Certificate from Duke University in 2015. In 2016, her love of public history led to an internship at the Cambridge Historical Society, and she has served on the communications committee ever since. Prior to studying at Harvard, she combined her love of education and history through roles at WGBH as marketing manager for PBSLearningMedia.org and the American History and Civics Initiative. Christina’s favorite Society events are the History Cafés because they “bring together a wide variety of ages and experiences in a relaxed setting (bar) to learn and talk about how history impacts our present and future.”
  • Jan Ferrara
    Jan Ferrar
    Jan has lived in Cambridge since 1990. She and her husband Joseph live on Brattle Street in an English Arts-and-Crafts home, and in 2012 they received a preservation award from the Cambridge Historical Commission for restoring the exterior of the building. Jan received her degree from the University of Cincinnati and has been a graphic designer of exhibits for museums, zoos, and aquariums. An active gardener, she chairs the Communications Committee of the Cambridge Plant and Garden Club and is a volunteer for CitySprouts, a nonprofit that provides sustainable schoolyard gardens and related programs for the Cambridge public schools. Jan and Joe have two daughters: Lidia and Emilia.
  • Heidi Gitelman
    Heidi Gitelman
    Heidi Gitelman grew up spending vacations with her relatives in Brighton. Her favorite memories are sitting in the living room of her great aunts’ fifth-floor walk-up, listening to their stories of growing up in a family of nine children. As a teen, she was influenced by her father’s passion for his Jewish roots and spent years interviewing him about his childhood, while he traced the family history and traveled to the Russian shtetl of his relatives. This love of social history and storytelling influenced Heidi as she pursued a B.A. in English, M.A. in History/Museum Studies, Ed.M., and coursework toward a Ph.D. in learning and narrative. Heidi’s favorite job is her current one: Conducting oral histories for individual families and businesses. Heidi lives in Cport, and looks for the stories, images, buildings, and material culture of life in our City, big and small, that make Cambridge both unique and quintessential.
  • Frank Kramer
    Frank was born in Cambridge in 1941. In 1962 he took over the leadership of the Harvard Book Store an independent bookstore founded by his father in 1932. During the next 46 years the bookstore became a Harvard Square landmark and one of the leading independent bookstores in the United States. The bookstore was sold in October 2008. In 2006 Frank, along with Simon Shapiro, of Tag’s Hardware and several other local business owners co-founded Cambridge Local First, an alliance of locally owned independent businesses that actively champions the benefits brought to the community by locally owned businesses. Since 2005 CLF has grown to over 335 members and they have just completed citywide distribution of their tenth annual directory. In addition to being co chairman of CLF Frank is active in community affairs.
  • Andy Leighton
  • Jonathan Muniz
    Jonathan Muniz
    Jonathan Muniz is on a mission to help IBM innovate and grow profitable businesses. Initially trained in international relations and diplomacy, he has a unique background in technology, marketing, communications, and business development. At IBM, Jonathan was responsible for launching the IBM Collaboration Solutions ecommerce business and has a keen understanding of the complexities between innovation strategy and execution. He holds a B.A. from American University in Washington D.C. and will finish his MBA at the University of Rochester in June.
  • Samantha Richard
    Samantha Richard
    Samantha Richard, originally from Indiana, moved to the Boston area to attend Wellesley College as a political science major, fell in love with the area, and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. After spending some time in consulting, Sam works in Boston and Cambridge’s bustling tech scene, building growth and operations teams at Dispatch, a service logistics platform. Sam and her husband spend their spare time listening to history podcasts and renovating their historical home in East Cambridge.
  • Ed Rodley
    Ed Rodley
    Ed Rodley is a lifelong resident of Cambridge. He received a BA in Anthropology from UMass Amherst and his MA in Historical Archaeology from UMass Boston. He is currently Associate Director of Integrated Media at the Peabody Essex Museum, where he manages a wide range of digital media projects, with an emphasis on temporary exhibitions and the reinterpretation and reinstallation of PEM’s collections. He has over 20 years’ experience developing engaging and educational museum experiences and is a recognized authority on the use of digital technologies in the gallery and beyond. His current interests involve incorporating emerging digital technologies into museum practice while building digital literacy and capacity among staff members. His museum career began in seventh grade, when he took part in a Museum of Science volunteer program for Cambridge Public Schools students. He and his wife live in Inman Square in the house he grew up in.

Advisors

  • M. Wyllis Bibbins
  • Kathleen Leahy Born
  • Carol M. Cerf
  • Robert G. Crocker
  • Luise M. Erdmann
  • Ted Hansen
  • Chandra Harrington
  • Swanee Hunt
  • Jinny Nathans
  • Larry Nathanson, M.D.
  • Alyssa Pacy
  • Paula Paris
  • Susan S. Poverman
  • Maxwell D. Solet
The Cambridge Historical Society relies on the dedication of our many volunteers and interns to help us accomplish our mission. Whether you can give a semester or a year, we are pleased to work with individuals of all ages and backgrounds.

If you are interesting in volunteering or interning with the Society, please email us at info@cambridgehistory.org and answer the following questions:

  • What area are you interested in working in? (Archives, administration, programming, marketing, website & social media, or fundraising?)
  • How many hours a week are you available?
  • When do you want your project to begin and end?
  • Do you have a resume you can send, or a LinkedIn page?

Rent the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House
The Hooper-Lee-Nichols House is one of the oldest houses in Cambridge, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1685 and transformed into a Georgian mansion in the 1730s, the house is an architectural and social history treasure.

Depending on the type of event, capacity ranges from 60-100 people. Please contact Rosemary Previte to discuss your rental needs at 617-547-4252 or info@cambridgehistory.org.

Read more about the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House here.

Cambridge Historical Society, party at the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House

A party at the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House