Cambridge Historical Commission | Projects & Services | Publications

Publications Available at the Cambridge Historical Commission

Several publications on local history and neighborhood development are available for research or purchase.  No purchase is necessary to view the books; office copies of all the books are available for reference at the Commission library.  Many of these books are also available at the Cambridge Public Library.  In addition to these publications, there are many staff reports and administrative brochures available for free online.

To order any of the in-print publications, please print and complete the Order Form and return with payment. 



Author Description Price

We Are the Port: Stories of Place, Perseverance, and Pride in the Port/Area 4 Cambridge, Massachusetts 1845-2005

(Link to We Are the Port Page)

Sarah Boyer

We Are the Port represents a five-year effort to interview more than 125 longtime Port residents of diverse backgrounds. Over the course of 150 years, the Port faced many challenges – from the federal anti-immigrant acts of the 1920s to plans for an Inner Belt highway that would have displaced many families and businesses. In the last fifty years, residents have joined the struggle for civil rights, including needs for educational parity and a more responsive city government. The community has weathered the winds of change, from the construction of Newtowne Court and Washington Elms in the mid- to late-1930s to the redevelopment of Kendall Square. The generational family stories inspired and moved the author, Sarah Boyer; many shared accounts of the courage of those who left their native countries to face an unknown world, toiling to provide for their families and improve the lives of their children and succeeding generations.

shipping is $5.00

Common Cause, Uncommon Courage: World War II and the Home Front in Cambridge, Massachusetts

(Link to Common Cause, Uncommon Courage Page)

Sarah Boyer Common Cause, Uncommon Courage: World War II and the Home Front in Cambridge, Massachusetts is the product of a four-year effort to record the experiences of more than 125 Cambridge veterans and home front participants. These recollections are told by soldiers in combat, nurses in hospitals in Europe and the Pacific, women who worked at the Charlestown Navy Yard and other defense industries, and servicemen’s families who waited for loved ones to come home. Five POWs, a Holocaust survivor, and an Italian Jewish refugee tell stories of uncommon courage and determination to persevere and survive in extraordinary circumstances. A narrative of the war in the European and Pacific Theaters accompanies the oral histories, and more than 250 photographs, some from the National Archives and FDR Library, are included as well.

$25.00 ($20.00 for seniors 65 and older)
shipping is $5.00

All in the Same Boat:
Twentieth-Century Stories of East Cambridge, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Sarah Boyer All in the Same Boat is a collection of more than 125 oral histories that explore the tightly knit neighborhood of East Cambridge from the perspective of its residents. The book, illustrated with historic and family photographs, offers a vivid picture of the diverse cultures that coexisted in East Cambridge during the 20th century and examines the social, economic, and political changes in this rapidly evolving neighborhood.

$22.00, shipping is $5.00

Crossroads book cover

Crossroads: Stories of Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1912-2000

Sarah Boyer Over 100 interviews together with more than 200 historic and family photographs, provide a much-needed historical record and richly detailed look at an area once considered Cambridge's true downtown.

Out of print

Architectural Survey book cover

Survey of Architectural History in Cambridge
Vol. 1: East Cambridge
(out of print)
Vol. 2: Mid Cambridge
(out of print)
Vol. 3: Cambridgeport
(in stock and available)
Vol. 4: Old Cambridge
(out of print, but a completely new edition is being prepared for publication).
Vol. 5: Northwest Cambridge
(out of print)

Cambridge Historical Commission This five-volume series includes detailed information on the architectural history and development of Cambridge neighborhoods.  East Cambridge and Northwest Cambridge also contain material on social history; for example, Irish immigration is discussed in East Cambridge; Northwest Cambridge examines brick-making.

T he other volumes in this series are out of print; reference copies available at CHC office.

Vol. 3 is $17.95; shipping is $5.00


Cambridgeport & Its 1812 Streets

Kathleen (Kit) Rawlins and Michael Kenney

A new book and related website by the Cambridge Historical Commission and Cambridge Historical Society explore the impact of the War of 1812 on Cambridgeport.

The year 2012 marks the bicentennial of the start of the War of 1812. This conflict, little remembered now, devastated Cambridgeport’s aspirations to become a bustling commercial port and ruined the fortunes of investing families. Yet within 45 years, a ladder of seven streets around Dana Park had been named for commanders, ships, and a decisive naval battle from that very war. Who named these streets? Why commemorate a conflict with such disastrous results for the area? Cambridgeport and Its 1812 Streets solves these mysteries. The book, rich with historic maps and illustrations, examines the growth of the neighborhood and the life and relationships of the man who named the streets.

$6.50; shipping is $1.00

“To protect the Union”: Civil War History in Central Square, Cambridge, Mass.

Kathleen (Kit) Rawlins and Michael Kenney In January 1861 James Richardson, a Central Square attorney, organized a company of local men to fight in the war he believed was inevitable. President Lincoln made the official call for volunteers on April 15 and Captain Richardson’s men, now known as Company C, marched to the State House on the morning of the 17th, becoming the first Massachusetts unit mustered into service. Historic maps and photographs illustrate the buildings and sites where the men mustered and drilled; biographies of several of the more prominent company members trace their interesting and sometimes unexpected lives. free online

Maintaining book cover

Maintaining Your Old House in Cambridge

Charles Sullivan, Eileen Woodford and the Staff of the Cambridge Historical Commission An invaluable illustrated guide for owners or tenants who live in a Cambridge house built before 1930. The book offers straightforward, practical advice on repairing and maintaining the home without sacrificing its stylistic integrity.

$8.00, shipping is $3.00

Painting book cover

Painting Historic Exteriors

(Link to CHC Paint page)

Cambridge Historical Commission This guide contains 80 pages of practical information about historic paint colors.  It comes shrink-wrapped and 3-hole punched ready to be inserted in a binder.

$10.00, shipping is $3.00

City Hall book cover

Cambridge City Hall, 1890-1990

(Link to City Hall History page)

Cambridge Historical Commission A brief illustrated history of Cambridge City Hall and noted benefactor Frederick Hastings Rindge. Out of print

African American Heritage Trail book cover

African American Heritage Trail, Cambridge, Massachusetts

(Link to Heritage Trail page)

Cambridge Historical Commission and the Cambridge African American Heritage Trail Advisory Committee Twenty historic plaques across the city honor notable African Americans who were abolitionists, authors, educators, and office holders in Cambridge from 1840 to 1940. The guide contains the complete text of each marker, a map with key, and a brief history of African Americans in Cambridge. $2.00, shipping is $1.50 (1-2 books) or $3.00 (3+ books)

Washington Takes Command cover

Washington Takes Command, Cambridge During the American Revolution

(Link to Revolutionary Map page)

Historic Cambridge Collaborative This exciting new map and guide explores events in Cambridge during the Revolution and identifies historic sites throughout the city. Free (limit one per household); shipping is $1.00

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A Photographic History of Cambridge

Cambridge Historical Commission A collection of historical photographs, with explanatory text, many of which were donated by Cambridge families. Out of print; reference copies available at CHC office

In Our Own Words book cover

In Our Own Words: Stories of North Cambridge, 1900 – 1960, as told to Sarah Boyer

City of Cambridge The book celebrates the lives of the late U.S. Speaker of the House Thomas "Tip" O’Neill and his friends and neighbors in their North Cambridge neighborhood.   This oral history publication is richly illustrated with over 150 photographs from North Cambridge families and historical images from the Commission and other historical organizations. Out of print; reference copies available at CHC office
Administrative/Regulatory Brochures:      

HSq Permitting Guide cover

Practical Guide to permitting in the Harvard Square Conservation District (click here to view online)

Cambridge Historical Commission Provides important information for permitting procedures in the Harvard Square Conservation District. Free online, hardcopy available at CHC office

Window Guidelines

Cambridge Historical Commission Helpful tips about repairing wood windows; important facts to consider before deciding to replace the windows. Free online, hardcopy available at CHC office
HVAC Guidelines Cambridge Historical Commission Design and technical considerations for HVAC systems and exterior equipment. Free online, hardcopy available at CHC office
"Protecting Buildings from Demolition" brochure Cambridge Historical Commission This brochure explains the demolition review process of the Historical Commission, which applies to buildings of 50 years or more. Free online, hardcopy available at office
"Protected Landmarks in Cambridge" brochure Cambridge Historical Commission This brochure explains the designation procedures and regulations of official city landmarks in Cambridge. Free online, hardcopy available at office
"Cambridge Historic Districts" brochure Cambridge Historical Commission This brochure explains the location and regulations of the two historic districts in Cambridge, the Old Cambridge Historic District and Fort Washington Historic District. Free online, hardcopy available at office
"Neighborhood Conservation Districts" brochure Cambridge Historical Commission This brochure explains the designation and regulatory procedures of the neighborhood conservation districts in Cambridge. Free online, hardcopy available at office

To order any of the in-print publications, please print and complete the Order Form and return with payment. 

Research copies of the above-named books may be found at the Historical Commission and public and school libraries.

For information about other books and resource materials available at our office, check out the List of Available Resources on our library and archive page.

They aren't ours, but they are good reads...check out these other Cambridge history publications!!



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