Tory Row Anti-Racism Coalition (TRAC)

In addition to our own anti-racism work, beginning in 2021 the Cambridge Historical Society is embarking on a learning journey about and with all of Brattle Street. Tory Row, famous for its stately mansions, has historic ties to slavery and enslaved people. What can we all do—together, as a street—to reconcile our past and become anti-racist? Notes from the April … 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

Who Is Essential Cambridge? Part 4: COVID-19

In our last installment, we examined the role of nurses as essential workers in Cambridge and beyond, exploring the ways in which gendered notions of caregiving and self-sacrifice both elevated nurses in the public opinion and limited their ability to advocate for better pay and working conditions. In this, our final installment, we look at the current COVID-19 pandemic and … 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

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

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

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

William Henry Lewis (1868-1949), Lawyer, Athlete, Public Servant

By Daphne Abeel William Henry Lewis, a graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Law School, was an outstanding athlete and an orator for his college class (1892). He carried on a successful law practice in Boston, served on the Cambridge City Council, was elected to the Massachusetts legislature, and was appointed assistant attorney general of the United States. He was … Read More