CHC Books on Cambridge History

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.

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

CHC Publications

Title Author Description Price
thumbnail view of Building Old Cambridge book cover

Building Old Cambridge
Charles M. Sullivan and Susan E. Maycock Building Old Cambridge explores the buildings and history of the neighborhood that grew up around the original settlement of Newtowne, founded as the capital of Massachusetts Bay in 1630, and Harvard College, established in 1636. The authors trace the area’s development into a suburban community and bustling intersection of town and gown. Extensively illustrated with many historic photos never published before, Building Old Cambridge is a comprehensive exploration of the city’s history and architecture and will be a standard reference for years to come.  

Building Old Cambridge was named a Finalist for the Julia Ward Howe Award 2017 by the Boston Authors Club.

View an interview with the authors here!
$49.95


Shipping is $8.00 by media mail or $14.00 by priority mail

Cover of the book We Are the Port

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

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.



$25.00



Shipping is $5.00

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

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

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)



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



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Cover of Survey of Architectural History in Cambridge

Survey of Architectural History in Cambridge

Vol. 3: Cambridgeport (in stock and available)

Vol. 1: East Cambridge (out of print)

Vol. 2: Mid Cambridge (out of print)

Vol. 4: Old Cambridge (out of print, but replaced by new publication: Building Old Cambridge--see above).

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.







The other volumes in this series are out of print; reference copies available at CHC office.
Vol. 3 is $17.95



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Cover of Crossroads: Stories of Central Square

Crossroads: Stories of Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1912-2000
Sarah Boyer
Crossroads: Stories of Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1912-2000
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
Cover of Cambridgeport & Its 1812 Streets

Cambridgeport & Its 1812 Streets
Kathleen (Kit) Rawlins and Michael Kenney Cambridgeport & Its 1812 Streets
A publication 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



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Cover of To Protect the Union: Civil War History in Central Square

“To protect the Union”: Civil War History in Central Square, Cambridge, Mass
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Charles Sullivan, Eileen Woodford and the Staff of the Cambridge Historical Commission “To protect the Union”: Civil War History in Central Square, Cambridge, Mass.
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
Cover of Maintaining Your Old House in Cambridge

Maintaining Your Old House in Cambridge
Charles Sullivan, Eileen Woodford and the Staff of the Cambridge Historical Commission Maintaining Your Old House in Cambridge
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



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Cover of Painting Historic Exteriors

Painting Historic Exteriors
Cambridge Historical Commission Painting Historic Exteriors
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
Cover of Cambridge City Hall, 1890-1990

Cambridge City Hall, 1890-1990
Cambridge Historical Commission Cambridge City Hall, 1890-1990
A brief illustrated history of Cambridge City Hall and noted benefactor Frederick Hastings Rindge.
Out of print
Cover of African American Heritage Trail

African American Heritage Trail, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge Historical Commission and the Cambridge African American Heritage Trail Advisory Committee African American Heritage Trail, Cambridge, Massachusetts
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 book) or $3.00 (3+ books)
Cover of Washington Takes Command, Cambridge During the American Revolution

Washington Takes Command, Cambridge During the American Revolution
Historic Cambridge Collaborative Washington Takes Command, Cambridge During the American Revolution
This exciting 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
Cover of A Photographic History of Cambridge

A Photographic History of Cambridge
Cambridge Historical Commission A Photographic History of Cambridge
A collection of historical photographs, with explanatory text, many of which were donated by Cambridge families.
Out of print; reference copies available at the CHC office
Cover of In Our Own Words: Stories of North Cambridge, 1900-1960

In Our Own Words: Stories of North Cambridge, 1900 – 1960, as told to Sarah Boyer
City of Cambridge In Our Own Words: Stories of North Cambridge, 1900 – 1960, as told to Sarah Boyer
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 the CHC office
Administrative/Regulatory Brochures:
Cover of the Practical Guide to Permitting in the Harvard Square Conservation District

Practical Guide to Permitting in the Harvard Square Conservation District
Cambridge Historical Commission Practical Guide to Permitting in the Harvard Square Conservation District
Provides important information for permitting procedures in the Harvard Square Conservation District.
Free online; hardcopy available at the 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 the CHC office
HVAC Guidelines Cambridge Historical Commission Design and technical considerations for HVAC systems and exterior equipment. Free online; hardcopy available at the 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 the CHC 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 the CHC 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 the CHC 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 the CHC 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!!

Cover of Rediscovering the Hooper-Lee-Nichols HouseCover of Cambridge Police DepartmentCover of Fresh Pond: The History of a Cambridge Landscape



Cover of Growing up in North Cambridge: A Journal of Stories from 1900 to the 1980sCover of Cambridge in the Twentieth Century



Cover of Saving Cambridge: Historic Preservation in America's Innovation City