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Cambridge Women's Heritage Project

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Cambridge Neighborhood House
Cambridge Political Equality Association
Cambridge School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture
Cannon, Annie Jump
Cannon, Cornelia (James)
Cantabrigia Club
Cell 16
Center for New Words, see New Words
Centro Presente
Chall, Jeanne Sternlicht
Chen, Joyce
Child, Julia (McWilliams)
Cohen, Bertha
Comstock, Ada Louise
Cummins, Sister Rose Marie
Curtin, Jane
Cushman, Charlotte Saunders


Cambridge Neighborhood House (1878-1973)
Neighborhood house, community organization
     In 1878, Pauline Agassiz Shaw (Mrs. Quincy Shaw), influenced by Elizabeth Peabody’s kindergarten movement, realized that working mothers needed a safe space for their children during working hours. She rented and then bought a building at the corner of Harvard and Moore streets in which she established a day nursery and a kindergarten. In 1879 she opened a library and reading room and held sewing classes, and in 1883 she began a club for mothers, a playground, and dressmaking and woodworking classes for children. The kindergarten that was established was taken over in 1889 by the Cambridge Public Schools. By 1900, Shaw had established classes in music, drawing, and painting. In 1914, a Health Committee was organized. Eventually, the neighborhood house expanded to offer industrial training and economics classes. As a result of lectures on hygiene and health, the Mothers' Club was organized in 1896. The club was renamed in 1902 as the Neighborhood Women’s Club.
     The Cambridge Neighborhood House began to involve a broader group of women, catering to working class women of any ethnic background or religion. It served as an educational, social, and recreational center for nearly a hundred years. The house, which had been listed on the National Register of Historic Places to commemorate Shaw’s work, burned in 1973 and had to be torn down. The activities of the organization were relocated to the Margaret Fuller House at 71 Cherry Street.
References: George Wright Collection at the Cambridge Historical Society. 37th Annual Report of Cambridge Social Union.; 4word, October 2001

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Cambridge Political Equality Association (founded 1896, flourished until ca.1920)
Political education and suffrage organization
     This political education committee was founded in 1896 "to extend study and discussion with a view to securing political equality for American citizens." Although the main focus was suffrage for women, CPEA also studied and supported African-American suffrage and proportional representation. Its leading officer and president was Grace A. (Fitch) Johnson, who served as its president until 1916.
     Although it began by sponsoring meetings and lectures, after 1900 CPEA helped organize suffrage rallies and parades, and raised money for woman suffrage through bazaars and rummage sales. By 1901, the organization was affiliated with the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association. It also worked with the Cambridge Woman Suffrage Party and other organizations like the Cambridge Public School Association (in which Johnson was also an officer). It encouraged women to register and to vote in school committee elections. CPEA later became part of MWSA and appears to have been the forerunner of the Cambridge League of Women Voters, formed after women’s votes were secured nationally.
References: Schlesinger Library Archive finding aids for the Cambridge Political Equality Association and for Grace A Johnson.

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Cambridge School of Architecture and Landcape Architecture (1915-1942)
Women's Educational Instituion
      The Cambridge School was the first to offer women graduate training in both architecture and landscape architecture under a single faculty. It began as a "little experiment" in the office of Henry Frost, professor of architectural design at Harvard University, with only nine to twelve students, all women. One of its earliest graduates was Eleanor A. Raymond (1887-1989), who went on to make a name for herself as a distinguished architect specializing in domestic buildings. The school could not be incorporated under Harvard proper since that remained an all-male institution. In 1924 it was incorporated under Massachusetts law as a separate educational institution. After several short term locations, the school settled into a building at 53 Church Street, the Torrey Hancock House of 1827. A large addition was built by the school in 1928 in the International Style.
     In 1934, Smith College became affiliated with the school. The School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture retained its own name and independent organization, but had the privilege of recommending its students to Smith for the graduate degrees of Master in Architecture and Master in Landscape Two women using tripod, Cambridge School of Archtecture, n.d. Photographer unknown. Smith College Archives, Smith College.  Copyright: unknown.Architecture. Two years later, the graduate degrees of Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Landscape Architecture were introduced, preceding the Master's degrees, which were later added as well. By 1938, the School became an actual part of Smith College’s Graduate School in architecture and landscape architecture but remained in Cambridge. When William Allan Neilson, president of Smith College, resigned in 1939, support for the school at Smith began to dwindle. The school was closed in 1942, and women were the same year allowed to enroll at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Harvard's school of design had seen a large percentage of its male student population join the armed forces after the country's entry into World War II and was seeking new ways to keep tuition coming in. The Cambridge School Corporation formally dissolved in 1945. The archives of the school are held at Smith College and include student transcripts and faculty reports as well as other documents and exhibitions.
References: Dorothy May Anderson, Women, Design and the Cambridge School. Cambridge School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture records at Smith College http://asteria.fivecolleges.edu/findaids/smitharchives/manosca78.html and in William Allan Neilsen’s presidential archives at Smith College.
Doris Cole, Eleanor Raymond, Architect. Philadelphia: The Art Alliance Press, 1981. Susana Torre, "Women in American Architecture: A Historic and Contemporary Perspective,” NY: Whitney Library of Design, 1977. National Register of Historic Places Registration Form/National Historic Landmark Nomination Form.

Two women using tripod, Cambridge School of Architecture, n.d. Photographer unknown.
Smith College Archives, Smith College. Copyright: unknown.

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Annie Jump Cannon (b. December 11, 1863 in Dover, Delaware, d. April 13, 1941 in Cambridge, MA)
Astronomer
Mrs. Annie Jump Cannon, head-and-shoulders portrait, left profile, 1922. New York World Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection, Library of Congress.     Born in Delaware to Mary Elizabeth (Jump) and Wilson Lee Cannon, a Delaware politician, Annie was educated in the public schools and at the Wilmington Conference Academy. She became interested in astronomy at a young age with her mother’s encouragement. She then went to Wellesley College where her professor, Sarah Whiting encouraged her interests in astronomy and physics. She turned to music after graduation in 1884, but was shocked out of a more traditional life by the death of her mother in 1893. She returned to Wellesley for postgraduate study and as an assistant to Professor Whiting and then enrolled as a special student at Radcliffe (1895-1897).
     Cannon was hired by Professor Edward Pickering at the Harvard College Observatory as a staff assistant beginning in 1896, joining Williaminia Fleming in studying stellar spectra on photographic plates. She was awarded a Master’s degree from Wellesley in 1907, and after the death of Fleming, she succeeded her as curator of astronomical photographs (1911-38) at the Harvard College Observatory. Classifying

Annie Jump Cannon, head-and-shoulders portrait, 1922.
New York World Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection, Library of Congress.

stellar bodies according to their temperatures, she published the Henry Draper Catalogue in nine volumes (1918-1924), which listed the faintest to the brightest spectra of stars from the North to South Poles and the Henry Draper Extension in two volumes (1925-1949) that included even fainter stars. The two catalogs represented a total of about 350,000 stars. She also discovered 300 long-period variable stars. She was made an honorary member of the Royal Astronomical Society in England (1914) and one of the few women elected as an honorary member of the American Philosophical Society (1925). She was honored with honorary degrees from Oxford and the University of Groningen. In 1938, she was made William Cranch Bond Astronomer at Harvard, one of the first appointments to a named chair made by Harvard. She entertained children as well as colleagues at her home at 4 Bond Street in Cambridge next to the Observatory, and sponsored egg-rolling contests at Easter for children on the hill. She was an advocate of women’s suffrage and a member of the National Women’s Party and a popular lecturer on her subject.
References: Notable American Women vol I (1950); Ogilvie, Marilyn and Joy Harvey. Biographical Dictionary of Women Scientists, (2000).

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Cornelia (James) Cannon (b. 1876 in St. Paul, MN d. 1969 in Cambridge)
Writer
     Brought up in Minnesota, Cornelia James married her long-term friend, the physiologist Walter B. Cannon in 1901 after his appointment to a position at Harvard. Adventurous, although not accomplished mountaineers, the couple climbed to the summit of a peak at the head of Lake McDonald on their honeymoon in what is now Glacier National Park. (This was later named Mount Cannon). With her husband, Cornelia settled in Cambridge where she raised four daughters and one son. In spite of her family responsibilities, running an academic household and raising five children, she became an important writer, contributing articles on social and economic subjects to Harper's, Atlantic Monthly, and North American Review. In 1928 she published a novel, Red Rust, that became a best-seller. In this, she described the Swedish immigrant farmers of rural Minnesota from the area in which she had been raised. In order to have privacy for her writing, she had the habit of hiding in the bathroom or in her car, as vividly described by her daughter Marion Cannon Schlesinger (see below). in a memoir, Snatched from Oblivion.
References: Marion Cannon Schlesinger, Snatched from Oblivion, Little Brown (1997);
Cambridge Public Library online site “Penwomen of Cambridge Past: Biographies of Our Literary Foremothers”: http://www.ci.cambridge.ma.us/cpl/about/penwomen.html

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Cantabrigia Club (founded Oct. 28, 1892, flourished late 19th century)
Educational and philanthropic woman’s club
     The Cantabrigia Club was founded in 1892 as an outgrowth of classes for women that discussed current events under the leadership of the club’s first president, Estelle M. H. Merrill, a newspaper woman who published a column under the name “Jean Kincaid.” After discussing the evils of sweatshops, the women decided to form a club with the aim of “encouraging mental and moral development.” The first meeting was held on October 28, 1892 at 20 Quincy Street in Cambridge and the club’s headquarters were later constructed at 100 Mount Auburn Street. According to Jane Croly, the historian of women’s clubs, Merrill organized the club to present regular lectures on topics that ranged from current events to art and science. Soon after the organization joined the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, and in 1893, joined the State Federation. By 1896, the Cantabrigia Club became involved in education, instituting a Radcliffe Scholarship Fund to benefit a Cambridge student. The club extended to philanthropy and for a time maintained a settlement house in the city and contributed a “Cantabrigia free bed” to the Cambridge Hospital.
References:
27th Annual report of Cambridge Social Union October 31, 1889, p 12, (see George Wright Collection at The Cambridge Historical Society).
May Alden Ward.”The Influence of Women's Clubs in New England and in the Middle-Eastern States,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 28 Woman's Work and Organizations (Sep., 1906), pp. 7-28
Grace S. Rice “The Cantabrigia Club” in Cambridge Sketches by Cambridge Authors edited by Estelle M. H. Merrill (Cambridge Young Women's Christian Association, 1896)
Jennie Cunningham Croly, “The Cantabrigia Club” in The History of the Woman’s Club Movement in America, New York, 1898

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Cell 16
Feminist organization
     The founding group of the Female Liberation group was called "Cell 16", located at 552 Mass Ave. Historically, it began with a group of women gathering at Emmanuel College for a women’s conference in 1969. The women broke up into smaller groups, one of which met afterwards informally for a year. In May 1969, the group took the name ‘Cell 16” to emphasize that they were only one cell of an organic movement and in reference its original meeting address, 16 Lexington /Ave. The group began to publish a magazine, No More Fun and Games; A Journal of Female Liberation. The Female Liberation group grew out of Cell 16. Its most important contribution was its publication of the magazine The Second Wave Magazine: A Magazine for the New Feminism in 1971 that continued until 1983 even after its parent organization was dissolved. It included news stories, poetry, fiction, graphics, and articles that expressed a wide range of feminist viewpoints In February 1974, Female Liberation disbanded as a result of conflicts between members who belonged to the Socialist Workers Party and the majority who did not.
References: Cell 16 archives, Northwestern Library, Women's Movement Archives.Files include administrative files and artwork of the magazines as well as copies of The Second Wave.

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Centro Presente (Cambridge MA, 1981 to present)
Community organization
     Established in 1981, Centro Presente is an immigrant-led, community-based organization in Cambridge MA. It was originally created in response to the influx of Central Americans fleeing U.S.-sponsored civil war but soon developed into an active community organization with a wider mission to develop adult education programs (ESL, literacy, and citizenship), youth leadership development (Pintamos Nuestro Mundo), and immigration legal services. It was founded by Sister Rose Marie Cummins (then attached to Saint Mary’s Catholic Church), members of the Salvadoran immigrant community, and members of the legal community in Cambridge. The current address is 54 Essex St., 2nd Floor in Cambridge but the youth program is based in East Somerville. The organization recently honored its founder and the past directors, Frank Sharry and Oscar Chacon at the twenty-fifth anniversary party.
References: Un Encuentro con Centro Presente (A discussion at Cambridge Community Television) http://cctvcambridge.org/centropresente. Centro Presente's 25th Anniversary and Holiday Fiesta http://www.massjwj.net/node/653. Centro Presente’s home page: http://www.cpresente.org

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Jeanne Sternlicht Chall (b. January 1, 1921 in Poland, d. November 27, 1999 in Cambridge)
Reading expert, psychologist, educator
     Jeanne Chall was an expert on reading instruction who taught a generation of teachers at the Graduate School of Education, Harvard University. Born in Poland, Chall immigrated to New York City with her family at the age of seven. She went to the New York public schools and graduated with honors from the City College of New York at the age of twenty. Her first position was as an assistant to Irving Lorge, who directed educational research at Teachers College, Columbia University. She went on to do graduate work with Edgar Dale at Ohio State University, where she received an A.M. degree in 1947 and her Ph.D. in 1952. She became interested in the issue of readability which led her to write Readability: An Appraisal of Research and Application (1958). She returned to City College as lecturer, rising to professor by 1965. She collaborated throughout her life with Florence Roswell, director of the reading clinic at the college, on the diagnosis and treatment of reading difficulties.
     In 1965, she moved to Harvard University as full professor to create and direct graduate programs in reading instruction. She founded the Harvard Reading Laboratory in 1967 (now named after her) and directed it until her retirement in 1991. She was a member of numerous scholarly organizations, editorial boards, and state and national commissions. Among her many professional awards was that given by the International Dyslexia Association in 1996.
     She served as a consultant for encyclopedias for children and children’s television programs including "Sesame Street," "The Electric Company," and "Between the Lions." She was interested in the issues surrounding reading and poverty and produced a book on this topic,The Reading Crisis: Why Poor Children Fall Behind (1990). Her final book, The Academic Achievement Challenge: What Really Works in Classrooms, was published after her death in 2000.
References: Cambridge Chronicle, December 2, 1999
http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/1819/Chall-Jeanne-1921-1999.html
Harvard Gazette obituary December 2 1999, http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/1999/12.02/chall.html

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Joyce Chen (b. September 14, 1917 in Beijing, China; d. August 23, 1994)
Celebrity chef and entrepreneur
     Joyce Chen was born in Beijing and after marriage, went to live in Shanghai. In 1949, Joyce Chen and her husband Thomas left Shanghai, fleeing the new Communist regime to settle in the United States. They were soon living in Cambridge on Kirkland Street. Nine years later, in 1958, Joyce opened the first Mandarin Chinese restaurant in New England at 617 Concord Street, Cambridge. By the 1960’s, it was a famous restaurant, visited by patrons that ranged from celebrities to ordinary restaurant-goers. She began to teach Chinese cooking at both the Cambridge and Boston Adult Education Centers and, in 1962, she published a widely-praised cookbook, Joyce Chen Cook Book. By 1968, she was asked to present a television cooking show for WGBH (PBS) “Joyce Chen Cooks”. In time, she opened restaurants in various locations in Cambridge, including Central Sq., Memorial Dr., Rindge Avenue, and in Boston. She also introduced a line of cookware. She had been a popular figure, often welcoming guests to her restaurant, but in the 1980s she developed Alzheimer’s disease, which incapacitated her. She died in 1994 and her restaurants closed, the last one four years after her death, but her three children continued her retail, cookware, and Chinese food businesses.
References: Boston Globe, May 19, 1994. obituary
http://www.givinggallery.com/aboutourbrands.asp?brand=joycechen

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Julia (McWilliams) Child ( b. August 15, 1912 in Pasadena, California d. August 13, 2004 in Santa Barbara, California )
Celebrity chef, author, television personality
     Julia Child was born in Pasadena California. She graduated from Smith College in 1934. After taking a variety of positions in advertising and journalism, she served with the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. After the war, she married Paul Cushing Child who was a diplomat with the Foreign Service .The couple lived for some years in Paris while Paul was assigned to the exhibit wing of the U.S. Information Agency. During that period, Julia took classes at the famous Cordon Blue cooking school. In 1951, she opened a cooking school, L’Ecole des Trois Gourmandes, (The School of Three Gourmands) with two partners. In 1961, the three women published Mastering the Art of French Cookery, considered at the time to be the best book on the subject in English.
     In 1961, Julia and her husband moved to Cambridge where she remained until a few years before her death. In 1963, she began a regular series of television programs, “The French Chef” on Boston’s WGBH, part of the Public Broadcasting Service, that catapulted her into national celebrity. She won a Peabody Award in 1965 and an Emmy in 1966 for the series, which continued for ten years In 1968, she published The French Chef Cookbook, including much of the content from her programs. In the 1970s and 1980s, she starred in further programs, “Julia and Company” and “Dinner at Julia’s.” A series of cook books also came out of this and her subsequent television series. In the 1990s, she hosted four more series with a various celebrity chefs. She founded the educational American Institute of Wine and Food in Napa, California in 1978. Among her many honors, she was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government in 2001, the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003 and honorary degrees from Harvard and Smith. She moved to a Santa Barbara California retirement home in 2001, gifting her Cambridge home to Smith College and her kitchen to the Smithsonian. The papers of Julia Child (1920-1993) are in the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe.
References: Schlesinger Library, Julia Child collection guide; Treasury of Women’s Quotations by Carolyn Warner, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1992.

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Bertha E. Cohen (b. in Poland ca 1898; d. February 1, 1965 in Cambridge)
Resident and Property Owner/Developer
     Bertha Cohen was a Polish immigrant who came to Boston at the age of twenty-two. She worked as a milliner in the old Chandler department store in Boston, living so frugally that she would eventually be able to purchase an apartment building, now 999 Memorial Drive in Cambridge, where she also resided. The income from this property enabled her to continue to invest in real estate, wisely choosing to purchase commercial properties in Harvard Square. She still maintained her frugal life-style, appearing throughout her life, according to the president of Cambridge Trust, as though she “did not have a dime.” She had a small office in the basement of her apartment house which various observers described as very small and poorly lit. Nevertheless, she continued to manage all her properties herself with the aid of one secretary.
She was said to have delighted in being a “thorn in the side of Harvard University,” refusing to sell properties to its corporation. One of the former Harvard deans claimed that when the then president, Pusey, sent him to inquire about her willingness to will a small piece of land on Mount Auburn Street to Harvard in order to establish a Bertha E. Cohen Park after her death, she scolded him, saying she had no desire to have a park named after her.
     Although she appeared at first glance to be a “scary old lady,” she was kind to young people, agreeing to rent one of her properties to the young founders of the 47 Mount Auburn jazz coffee house in 1957 that would soon make Harvard Square a haven for renowned folk singers. (Now Club Passim at 47 Palmer Street).
     By the time of her death at age sixty-seven in 1965, she owned twenty-seven properties in Cambridge and about fifteen more in the Boston area and was referred to as the “owner of Harvard Square.” Her estate was estimated at about twelve million dollars at her death and included a number of companies including Curtis Realty, Inc., Cober Realty Inc., Hemenway Investment Co., Melrose Realty Co. Inc., and the Strathcona Realty Trust.
References:
Charles M. Sullivan, Old Cambridge manuscript. MIT press (forthcoming)
Jacob Rader Marcus, The American Jewish Woman, 1654-1980 (1981) p. 117
Eric Von Scmidt and Jim Rooney, Baby, Let Me Follow You Down: The illustrated Story of the Cambridge Folk Years, p. 15
Obituary, Harvard Crimson Wednesday, February 03, 1965
James Cramer in Harvard Crimson "Part I: The Rise of Eddie Crane. Power in Cambridge." February 07, 1975
A list of her Real Estate holdings is held in the Harvard University Corporation archives (B.U.D. 81, Real Estate, March 6, 1967 “List of Properties in Bertha Cohen's Estate”), Harvard University archives.

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Ada Louise Comstock (b. December 11, 1876 in Moorhead, MN, d. December 1973 in New Haven, CT)
Educator, college dean, college president
     Born in Moorhead, Minnesota to Solomon G. Comstock, a successful lawyer and politician, Ada Comstock was the eldest of three children. She completed her high school education at the young age of fifteen and then went on to college at the University of Minnesota. After two years, she transferred to Smith College. After graduating from Smith in 1897, Ada attended the Moorhead State Normal School for a teaching certificate and then entered Columbia University for graduate work in English, History, and Education. She returned to the University of Minnesota in 1899 to teach rhetoric and in 1907, she was appointed the University's first Dean of Women, actively improving the situation of young women at the college. In 1912, Comstock went to Smith College as professor of English and as the first Dean of the College. Comstock believed in the power of a college education in inspiring women to take on leadership roles.
     In 1917, during World War I, the presidency of Smith College became vacant and Ada Comstock directed the operation of the college for six months without the title of acting President. She was a founding member of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae, later called the American Association of University Women, which she served as president. She was one of five American voting delegates to the first conference of the International Federation of University Women in London in 1920 and at the second in Paris in 1922. Amongst her other activities, she served as president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vice Chairman of the American Council of Institute of Pacific Relations and sat on the National Committee for Planned Parenthood.
     In 1923, Radcliffe College offered her the position of the first full-time President of the college. Throughout most of her administration, Ada Comstock worked to keep a balance between Radcliffe's association with Harvard and its establishment as an independent women's college, since Radcliffe had no faculty of its own. Under her guidance, the college opened a nationwide admission program, built new student housing and classroom buildings and expanded its graduate program.
     In 1943, Comstock retired from her position at the age of sixty-seven, and shortly after, she married Wallace Notestein, a retired professor of history at Yale University whom she had known as a young instructor at the University of Minnesota. She continued to be active in planning and working as a trustee at Smith College, and as organizer of the graduate center at Radcliffe which is named after her. She also traveled extensively with her husband. Ada Comstock died in New Haven in December of 1973. Her personal papers are in the Smith College archive and other papers dealing with Radcliffe are held in the Radcliffe College archives in Schlesinger Library
References: Notable American Women, Modern Period; Ada Louise Comstock papers, Smith College.

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Sister Rose Marie Cummins (b. in Louisville, Kentucky)
Founder of Centro Presente
     Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Sister Rose joined the Dominican order soon after graduation. Sister Rose visited Puerto Rico from 1966 to 1971 and fell in love with the island. She worked in Massachusetts from 1972 to 1999. In the mid 1970s, she worked in Framingham, MA as a bilingual counselor in the public school system. She was very active in the Sanctuary movement in the 1980s and was one of the co-founders of Centro Presente in 1981 during the period that she was attached to Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Cambridge. She worked for six years as co-director of Centro Presente and for three years at Saint Francis House doing immigration work with homeless and low-income people from around the world. Recently, Sister Rose moved back to her home state of Kentucky where she is the director of the Dominican Earth Center in Springfield (founded in 1997), a ministry of the Dominicans of St. Catharine, Kentucky that encourages a philosophy and lifestyle of sustainable living that benefits our environment and those who inhabit it. She was presented an Earth Day award in 2006 by the Environmental Quality Commissioner of Kentucky and was celebrated in Cambridge at the twenty-fifth anniversary of Centro Presente in December 2006.
References: “Sister Rose Marie Cummins” Environmental Quality Commission Earth Day, Earth Day 2006 http://www.eqc.ky.gov/eday/eday2006/Sister+Rose+Marie+Cummins.htm
“The evolution of the Latino Community in Cambridge Massachusetts” Professor Deborah Pacini-Hernandez In collaboration with Maira Prez and Melissa Lee, Spring, 2002. Department of Anthropology, Tufts University. http://repository01.lib.tufts.edu:8080/fedora/get/tufts:MS083.001.001.00013/bdef:TuftsPDF/getPDF. Centro Presente's 25th Anniversary and Holiday Fiesta http://www.massjwj.net/node/653.
See entry for Centro Presente.

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Jane Curtin (b. September 6, 1947 in Cambridge)
Comedian and actress
     Jane Curtin was born in Cambridge and attended a Catholic school there. She then went to New York City where she studied at Elizabeth Seton Junior College in New York City, obtaining an associate degree. She returned to Boston to study drama at Northeastern University, but left in 1968 when she landed a $40 a week acting job with “The Proposition,” a topical, politically-oriented comedy show in Cambridge that included a number of other talented comedians. She married Patrick Lynch in 1975 and has one daughter.
     In the fall of 1975, she had an opportunity to become a charter member of the Not Ready For Prime Time Players on NBC's “Saturday Night Live.” Curtin remained on the show for five seasons, creating a number of memorable characters, including Prymaat Conehead. She became widely known as the co-anchor of “Weekend Update.” When Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi moved to Hollywood to make movies, Curtin made one movie "How to Beat the High Cost of Living" (1980) with a future television sitcom partner, Susan Saint James, but for some years, Curtin preferred the stage. She performed in the Broadway production of George Bernard Shaw’s “Candida” with Joanne Woodward in 1981, which was adapted for television two years later.
     She returned to television to appear in the sitcom “Kate and Allie” opposite Susan Saint James in a story about divorced mothers in Greenwich Village. This lasted for five years and won her Emmy awards for her role in 1984 and 1985. She appeared in an American Playhouse presentation of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Suspicion” but returned to the stage to play in “Love Letters” and Michael Frayne’s popular farce, “Noises Off.”
In 1990 she appeared in a miniseries about desegregation in Boston called “Common Ground.” From the 1996 until 2001, she performed an important role in the television sci-fi comedy series “Third Rock from the Sun,” with John Lithgow, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe award and won a Golden Satellite award. In the summer of 2001, she appeared with Paul Newman in Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” in the Westport County Playhouse which signaled Newman’s return to the stage and was made into a miniseries on television. She has continued to appear in a variety of television roles to the present.
     Curtin also worked for UNICEF for several decades, appointed as an official UNICEF ambassador in 1990 on behalf of international children’s health and childcare initiatives. In 1991, she received the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award for this work.
References:
Cambridge Chronicle. Sept 6, 2000
“Jane Curtin” online references at www.hollywood.com/celebrity/Jane_Curtin/196715

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Charlotte Saunders Cushman (b.1July 23, 1816 in Boston, d. February 18, 1876 in Boston)
Actress
     Charlotte Cushman is the only female actress to be enshrined in the University of Hall of Fame for Great Americans. She was the daughter of a failed businessman, Elkanah Cushman and his second wife, Mary Eliza Babbitt. Raised in Boston where her mother ran a boarding house, she trained to become an opera singer but an ill- fated attempt to extend the range of her husky contralto voice while touring in New Orleans. Advised to turn to the theater, she was offered the part of Lady Macbeth by the manager of the main theater in that city, making a successful debut at the age of twenty. She soon moved to Philadelphia and New York where she appeared regularly, developing an enthusiastic following, especially as Nancy in “Oliver Twist,” and as Lady Macbeth. She took on other Shakespearean roles, including a large number of male roles, for example playing Romeo opposite her sister Susan’s Juliet and notably as Hamlet. In 1844, she went to London where she made a sensational hit, even appearing before Queen Victoria. After a number of highly successful tours of America, she temporarily retired from the stage at the age of thirty=seven and with her accumulated wealth spent her winters in London and her summers in Rome where she lived with the sculptor Emma Stebbins, opening her house as a center for English and American writers and artists including the Brownings and Harriet Hosmer. She moved back to Boston in 1870 with Emma Stebbins and established homes in Boston and Newport, occasionally returning to the stage for special performances. She suffered from cancer and finally retired permanently from the stage in 1874. Two years later she died of pneumonia and was buried in Mt Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge.
References: American Women: 1500 Hundred Biographies, Frances E. Willard and Mary A. Livermore (eds.), Volume I, (1897); Notable American Women (1950); Encyclopedia Americana, 1995

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Cambridge Women's Heritage Project
February 2012

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