The Cambridge Room

Researchers Jake, Isaiah, Ezra, and research librarian Ann in the Cambridge room.

Researchers Jake, Isaiah, Ezra, and research librarian Ann in the Cambridge room.

After a whirlwind of a first week, with name games, introductions, and the daunting task of answering: What does 1968 have to do with us? We have started to settle into a regular routine and feel more comfortable asking in depth, open ended questions.

While still relatively early in the summer —for Our Riverside at least— our researchers have already begun to develop remarkable interests in the different happenings around Cambridge in 1968. These interests were only emboldened by a trip to the Cambridge Room at the main branch of the Cambridge Public Library. The Cambridge Room is an actively collecting, open archive, which documents Cambridge history with a strong emphasis on the mid 20th century.

Here's what peaked our interests:

Jake was particularly interested in comparing and contrasting the city's annual budgets from 1968 and 2018. While analyzing the budgets, he asked questions about what the city was prioritizing then vs. now, and how the budget has changed aesthetically.

Isaiah looked at a book which discussed the history of ghosts in Cambridge. Though the book focused mostly on ghosts from the 18th and 19th century, he wondered what kinds of folklore emerged in Cambridge during the 60s.

Sidrah investigated inventions in Cambridge and the early iterations of technology square. She discovered information about the potential placement of NASA in Cambridge in the 60s, and asked questions about how NASA could have benefitted the community, but also about how it could have negatively impact the industrial economy and working class people of Cambridge.

Blu discovered a book about the "Secret Gardens" of Cambridge, a walking tour which visits the homes of people with exquisite gardens for private view only. Her interest in gardening led her to investigate the history of community gardens in Cambridge, and to ask questions about the importance of access to fresh food.

Lwam was drawn to a series of photographs by Olive Pierce on display in the Cambridge Room, which documented the life of Cambridge adolescents in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. She noticed how Pierce's photography captured the relationships and interactions between black and white students at Cambridge Rindge and Latin, and how the testimonials provided with these photos bolstered their meaning.

And last but not least, Ezra read a Cambridge architectural survey about Cambridgeport from 1968. He noticed that one of the churches in Riverside had beautiful Queen Anne windows, which had not changed from 1886, to 1968, to 2018.

Thanks for reading, and make sure to check back with us next week to hear more about the development of our research projects, and the beginning of our oral history interviews!