“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 of the Population”1: Women in … Read More

Smallpox, cholera, influenza around Cambridge: How the region endured pandemics of the past

By Martha HenryApril 2020 Reproduced from cambridgeday.com with permission We’re weeks into the Covid-19 pandemic, most of us stuck at home, trying to work, educate children or, when that all seems futile, just clicking “next episode” on whatever escapist show we’re binging on Netflix. Our coronavirus, social-distancing spring seems unprecedented. But it isn’t. New England has been coping with epidemics since … Read More

100 Years Ago: Cambridge leading up to the 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic

Red Cross workers make anti-influenza masks for soldiers in camp. Boston. Courtesy National Archives, photo no. 165-WW-269B-026 By Elizabeth Adams Lasser, April 2020 During the COVID-19 outbreak of 2020 as we quarantine at home, we have seen many references and comparisons in the national media to the influenza epidemic of 1918 and 1919. What was happening in Cambridge at the time? … Read More

Savoring the Legacy of Joyce Chen

Chef. Restaurateur. Entrepreneur. by Stephen Chen, president of Joyce Chen Foods Reproduced from joycechenfoods.com with permission Born in Beijing in 1917, my mother Joyce Chen came to this country with my dad, sister and brother in 1949. We moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where friends of the family had settled, and where I was born. Surrounded by Chinese students at Harvard … Read More

Elizabeth Ann Sullivan, M.D.

Inspired by our 2020 theme, “Who are Cambridge Women?” Society member Philip M. Cronin wrote this essay about his remarkable mother, Elizabeth Sullivan.                       Elizabeth Ann Sullivan was born in Winchendon, Massachusetts, in 1892. She attended local schools.  The day after she graduated from high school, she boarded a train to Boston and enrolled at Tufts Medical School. At the … Read More

History @ Home

There are so many great digital resources for adults, teens, and children to use at home! We have gathered a number of excellent online sites to help you and your family learn about a wide variety of historical topics, with special emphasis on resources about women’s history in conjunction with our 2020 theme, “Who Are Cambridge Women?” Digital History Resources: … Read More

Minimum Wages for Women in Early 20th Century Cambridge

By Sarah Huggins, Intern, Lesley UniversityMarch 2020 What image enters your mind when thinking about Cambridge? For many, it’s the Corinthian columns of our prestigious institutions of higher education. But less than a hundred years ago the city was a major industrial center:- a manufacturing mecca of brick buildings and smokestacks. The Boston Daily Globe boasted in 1927, “Factories, not … Read More

YWCA of Cambridge: Labor Activism in the 1890s-1930s

By Sarah Huggins, Intern, Lesley UniversityMarch 2020  The YWCA of Cambridge established itself as self-governing in 1891 with a simple mission, “To improve the temporal, moral and religious welfare of those who come under its care, by personal influence and by industrial and educational classes.” The organization operated with liberal policies for their era in the formation of an inclusive … Read More

President’s Report to the Membership

February 2020 Thanks to everyone who participated in the Opening Conversation and Annual Meeting at the Cambridge Public Library on February 25. Our impressive speaker, YWCA Executive Director Eva Martin-Blythe, in conversation with Diana Lempel, the Society’s Doing History Curator, is a great example of what we do best—engage with our city to explore how the past influences the present … Read More