Open Archives 2019

The 11th Annual Cambridge Open Archives:

Politics and Activism in Cambridge (And Beyond)

June 24-28, 2019

This event is FREE but registration is required. 

Scroll down for more information!

Dive into the tangled history of Cambridge politics and social activism by visiting 8 local archives from June 24-28.

Archivists at each site will share treasures from their collections that tell complex and unique stories about dynamic politicians and dedicated activists; fights over highways and development schemes; a strong mayor vs. Plan E.

See what an archive is, find out what archivists do all day, and see how you can use these resources to learn more about your family and community.

(Image: Inner Belt protest march in Cambridge, February 26, 1966. Photographer Carrol J. Myett. Cambridge Photo Morgue Collection, Cambridge Historical Commission)

This year's participating archives and schedule:

You must register with each archive *separately* using their individual instructions below.

Some archives have general open hours in which visitors may pop by without registration. Other archives have attendance caps and may offer two "tours" at specific times; these require prior registration.

Find out more about the individual sites by clicking on their names.

Monday, June 24:

MIT Museum, 1-3 pm. Registration:  Email to register for one of two tours: 1 pm or 2 pm. Each tour will run about 45 minutes. 

Tuesday, June 25:

Cambridge Public Library, 2-4 pm. Registration: Choose one of the following time slots and register using the corresponding link:

2-3 pm:

3-4 pm:

Harvard Semitic Museum, 5-7 pm. Registration: Email the Semitic Museum at to register.

Wednesday, June 26:

Harvard Art Museums, 12-2 pm.  Registration: No registration is necessary for this site during the open hours of 12-2 PM. For more information and directions, click here.

Cambridge Historical Commission, 5-7 pm. Registration: Email or call 617-349-4070 to register.

Thursday, June 27:

Cambridge Historical Society, 3-5 pm. Registration: Click here to register on the Cambridge Historical Society's Eventbrite page.

Mount Auburn Cemetery, 5-7 pm. Registration: Click here to register on Mount Auburn's Eventbrite page.

Friday, June 28:

Cambridge Community Center, 11 am-1 pm. Registration: Email to register.


What is Open Archives?

Cambridge Open Archives, sometimes called the Cambridge archives crawl, is an annual free event that offers members of the public the rare chance to visit a number of unique archives and collecting agencies in Cambridge. Cambridge Open Archives is organized by the Cambridge Historical Commission. 

What are archives?

Here's a good description. 

What kinds of things will I see at Open Archives?

This varies from place to place. Most archives set up displays of special collections materials - photographs, correspondence, documents, maps, art, and more - while archives staff are on hand to tell stories and answer questions.

In previous years, participating institutions have planned their tours and collection displays around a special theme. Past Open Archives themes have included Adventures in Gastronomy, Cambridge in the 1860s, Spaces: Profane and Sacred, Living and Dying in Cambridge, and New Acquisitions & Old Treasures. This year the theme is "Politics and Activism in Cambridge (and beyond)." Whatever each institution decides to display, you are guaranteed to see a wonderful variety of unique materials.

Does Open Archives cost anything?

Open Archives is completely free! Space is very limited, however, so register early at each site to secure your spot. Watch this webpage for registration instructions for each site.

Do you take volunteers for Open Archives?

Yes! We need volunteer monitors to help keep groups on track during the Open Archives visits, and also to help distribute flyers. If you work or volunteer for a library or archive, consider joining the Cambridge Archives Committee. For more information, contact

Anything else I should know?

Seating is often limited at many of the participating locations, and you should plan to be on your feet for 30-45 minutes. If you need accommodations, please email

To ensure the safety of unique and fragile collections items at our participating institutions, food, beverages, and large bags are generally not permitted inside. Some institutions may have places for you to stow anything you may have brought with you.