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McCarthy Family Collection

 Collection
Identifier: CHC061

Collection Description

This collection documents a longstanding and active family in Cambridge and various local organizations spanning a period of nearly 150 years. The majority of the collection is comprised of personal papers, legal documents, photographs and ephemera relating to the McCarthy family. Papers include vital records and citizenship certificates of McCarthy family members (1860s-1960s); penmanship books from the late 19th century; personal correspondence; and real estate and income tax documents (1900-1923).

The collection also includes nearly 300 photographs of McCarthy family members and friends (1890s-1980s), over 250 photographs of unidentified people and places, 10 tintypes, and 1 drawing. The content of the photographs ranges from portrait images, trips to Bermuda, sailing, and buildings visited or owned by the family.

Also included are local newspaper clippings (1920s-1940s) and various printed materials from Cambridge-area businesses and social events (1920s-1940s). Other subject matter contained in the collection include records relating to the East Cambridge Catholic Institute and Club, the Sacred Heart Church of East Cambridge, the Father Mathew Total Abstinence society of East Cambridge, and the St. John’s Council No. 193 of the Knights of Columbus.

Dates

  • 1860s-1980s

Creator

Language of Materials

Material in English.

Access

Collection is available for research under the CHC rules of use.

Copyright Notice

Copyright for materials resides with the creators of the items in question, unless otherwise designated.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to understand and observe copyright law and to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyright. Questions concerning copyright and permission to publish should be directed to the Cambridge Historical Commission Archives.

Historical Sketch

The members of the McCarthy family were longtime residents of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The first generation to live in Cambridge was Maurice McCarthy. An Irish immigrant born in the County Cork, Maurice McCarthy became a U.S. citizen in 1860. A year later, in 1861 he purchased land in East Cambridge at 6 Lechmere Place. He and his wife, Mary Hurley McCarthy, had two children, Ellen McCarthy and Jeremiah H. McCarthy. Ellen was born in 1861 and worked as a fare collector for the Boston Elevated Railroad; she died in 1937.

Maurice’s son, Jeremiah, was born in 1857 and married a Cambridge resident, Julia Theresa Lane, on November 24, 1900 at the Sacred Heart Church in East Cambridge. Julia was born in 1867 in Ireland but her family moved to 29 Warren Street in East Cambridge when she was 8 months old. As a child, Julia attended the Thorndike Grammar School, located at Sixth and Thorndike in East Cambridge, and graduated in 1880 at the age of thirteen. It was there that she learned the Duntonian System of penmanship created by Alvin R. Dunton, an overseer of penmanship studies in Boston schools. Julia kept many of her penmanship books from this period of her life.

Between 1900 and 1905 Jeremiah and Julia moved into a house at 134 Otis Street, where the McCarthy family resided until 1993. Jeremiah, sometimes known as “Jerry,” worked for 39 years as a patrolman out of the East Cambridge police station and he retired a year before his death in 1926. Julia lived until 1963 and she was noted for being the oldest East Cambridge resident and oldest graduate of the Thorndike School. The couple had three sons, Gerald F., John L., and Justin H. McCarthy.

Gerald F. McCarthy was born on January 25, 1902. He worked for the Cambridge Police Department, the Metropolitan Police Department and finally for the Massachusetts State Police as a lieutenant. According to the 1930 federal census, Gerald worked as a chauffeur for a factory company but by the 1940 census he had changed his occupation to policeman. He also served in WWII from October 30, 1942 to May 10, 1946. Gerald died on July 18, 1997.

John Lane McCarthy was born on February 15, 1904 and attended Harvard Dental School. He had an office in Central Square and was also employed as one of Cambridge’s school system dentists. In 1934 he married Margaret Loretta Roche in Woburn. He then served in WWII as a lieutenant in the Naval Reserve in 1939 and he began his active duty as a lieutenant commander of the dental corps in June 1943. He was also affiliated with the Bainbridge Naval Hospital training Center in Maryland and the U.S.S. War Hawk that participated in the Pacific theater. John was also a member of the Cambridge Elks Lodge, the Knights of Columbus, the Guild of St. Apollonia, and the Agnes Holy Name Society. On July 1, 1969 he died a sudden death from coronary heart disease.

Justin H. McCarthy was born in 1906 and he worked as a marine electrician at the Boston Navy Yard as well as Western Electric. While serving for the Navy, he embarked on trips to Bermuda. He did not have children so when he died on September 19, 1993, the house at 134 Otis Street and most of its contents were sold at auction.

Extent

6 document boxes

2 flat boxes

Abstract

This collection documents a longstanding and active family in Cambridge and various local organizations spanning a period of nearly 150 years. The majority of the collection is comprised of personal papers, legal documents, photographs and ephemera relating to the McCarthy family. Papers include vital records and citizenship certificates of McCarthy family members (1860s-1960s); penmanship books from the late 19th century; personal correspondence; and real estate and income tax documents (1900-1923). It also includes nearly 300 photographs of McCarthy family members and friends as well as local newspaper clippings (1920s-1940s) and various printed materials from Cambridge-area businesses and social events (1920s-1940s).

Collection Arrangment

The collection is organized into six series, with subseries and folders arranged alphabetically within each series.
  1. Series I: Preliminary historical background on family, secondary material compiled by Gavin Kleespies
  2. Series II: Personal papers
  3. Series III: McCarthy family photographs
  4. Series IV: Non-family photographs
  5. Series V: Topical photographs
  6. Series VI: Related Activities
The second and third series contain similar subject matter-- records of individual family members-- but they have been separated by format. Along with the papers created by family members, the personal papers also contain newspaper articles and obituaries pertaining to the individual identified.

The police diaries have been placed with Gerald F. McCarthy’s personal papers since they likely belonged to him. While his father Jeremiah was also employed as a police officer, the diaries date past Jeremiah’s death in 1926. Gerald was the only son of Jeremiah McCarthy that went into the police force.

Of special note are the holiday cards created by Greg McCarthy and his children Denise, Bryna, and Brendan. These cards also contain letters that detail the yearly updates for each family member.

The sixth and final series ranges in subject matter, so it has been further divided into subseries. These subseries reflect either the creators of the items or outlying material formats.

Physical Location

Collection is stored on-site

Provenance

Donated by Tia C. Scully, March 2018 and October 2019.

Related Resources

For further information about police in Cambridge, see Cambridge Police Department by David J. Degou, available in the CHC library for viewing, HV9788.C1 D4 2009. See page 79 for an image of Jeremiah McCarthy and page 81 for Gerald McCarthy.

For information about the 19th Naval Construction Battalion in Bermuda and possible further connection to the McCarthy family, see Bermuda Cruise published by the 49th U.S. Naval Construction Battalion and the Battalion Welfare Fund in 1943. Available as online pdf by Naval History and Heritage and Google ebook.

For access to the Justin McCarthy photo album, see the CHC Flickr account (Cambridge Historical Commission), “McCarthy Family Album.” This Flickr album contains 39 images.

Note on physical separation

Due to preservation needs and larger sizes, some items have been physically separated from this content organization and have been housed in oversized flat boxes. The arrangement list reflects the collection’s content organization, but separation notes indicate items that have been stored separately. Relevant items include tintypes that must be placed at the top of the oversized box so as not to cause damage from added weight. Additionally, the two photo albums in the collection are fragile and require extra care. Assistance from an archivist will likely be needed.

Note on preservation copies

Some items in the collection were damaged beyond repair and had to be replicated in other formats. These new preservation copies are digital files that are scans of the original items. Two of these items were unlacquered photographs in the “Unidentified children, 20th century” folder. The original photographs were discarded. Please inquire with an archivist to view the digital records. Original newspaper clippings have been photocopied and the originals discarded for preservation purposes. Preservation copies that were once clippings in the collection are labeled.

Note on access

Due to the poor condition of Justin McCarthy’s photo album, the pages have been digitized and are accessible on the CHC Flickr page. Access to the originals will only be granted after digital version has been consulted. To help researchers gather information from the digital surrogates, a transcription of the identified photographs has been created. See transcription file for more information.

Processing Information

Processing and original finding aid by: Molly Alexander, Gavin Kleespies, and Maeve Strucker.

Reprocessing and updated finding aid by: Brittany Fox, January 2020.

Encoded by: Brittany Fox, April 2020.
Title
McCarthy Family Collection
Author
Processing and original finding aid by Molly Alexander, Gavin Kleespies, Maeve Strucker. Reprocessing by Brittany Fox, January 2020. Machine-readable finding aid created by Brittany Fox, April 2020.
Description rules
Finding Aid Was Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge Historical Commission Archives Repository

Contact:
831 Massachusetts Avenue
2nd Floor
Cambridge Massachusetts 02139 US
617-349-4683