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Thomas Anninger Collection

Identifier: CHC037

Collection Description

The primary focus of the Thomas Anninger Collection is the community’s felt need to preserve the integrity of the historic Harvard Square area. A number of organizations are included in the collection as contributing to this goal; the pivotal group with which Mr. Anninger worked closely was the Harvard Square Defense Fund. While this collection includes background papers dated as early as 1931, it is primarily focused on the years 1984-l989. These years followed Mr. Anninger’s term of service, 1980-1984, as President of the Cambridge Neighborhood Ten Association; as documented in the Neighborhood Ten Association Collection, also donated to the Cambridge Historical Commission by Mr. Anninger.

Taken together, these two collections span Mr. Anninger’s work for the community in two separate contexts: first, in the context of a Cambridge neighborhood group and second, outside the neighborhood group as a member of various other community organizations. Both contexts cover city preservation issues, do not duplicate each other on specific subject matters, and should be reviewed together in order to obtain a full account of Mr. Anninger’s endeavors.

Materials on the work of the Harvard Square Defense Fund can be found throughout the collection. While there is a separate series, Series IV, devoted solely to this group, its influence and reach can be seen elsewhere in the collection, as for example in the positions the group took on individual development sites, or on the Harvard Square Overlay District Regulations, or in the newspaper articles describing the issues and personalities of the day.

Compared to the unusually momentous preservation issues covered in the Neighborhood Ten Collection, this Collection records important contributions to a range of matters, perhaps of less dramatic impact on but of no less significance to, the welfare of the Harvard Square area. The Thomas Anninger Collection does indeed give valuable insight into dedicated community activism centered on preserving the integrity of a precious historical environment.


  • 1931-1989
  • Majority of material found within 1984-1989

Language of Materials

Material is in English.


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 Note

Thomas Anninger was a resident of 26 Healey Street in Cambridge since 1967, and an attorney in Boston for many years. He gave generously of his time, expertise, and wisdom to the Cambridge community. From 1980 to 1984 he served as the President of the Cambridge Neighborhood Ten Association. He also worked with the Harvard Square Defense Fund, of which he was a Board Member and for a short time Vice President. He went on to become the chairman of the Planning Board by the early 2000s and served on the Board until 2013.

The Harvard Square Defense Fund was formed in 1979 to enforce the 1976 “Harvard Square Comprehensive Policy Plan” and to oppose the Kennedy Library plan being considered by the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority. It initially consisted of members of the Neighborhood Ten Association. The community group soon went on to leverage modifications to the plans for Parcel 1B, which was to become Charles Square, as well as other major projects. The Fund’s large membership and clout permitted it to form zoning amendments, including limitations to fast-food and liquor licenses.

The overlay district was implemented by the city in 1979. It established zoning height limits and gave the Planning Board sway over large projects in the area. The district was amended in 1986 and an advisory committee and general guidelines were created. However, the Harvard Square Defense Fund wanted stricter zoning rules.


1 linear foot (2 document boxes)


Clippings, minutes and documents relating to the West Cambridge neighborhood and the Fresh Pond Reservation, including papers of the Neighborhood Ten Assoc. and the Harvard Square Defense Fund. Complements the Neighborhood Ten Association Collection by primary focusing on community perception of preservation.

Collection Arrangement

  1. Series I: Cambridge, City of
  2. Series II: Clippings
  3. Series III: Fresh Pond Reservation
  4. Series IV: Harvard Square Defense Fund
  5. Series V: Organizations and Instutions
  6. Series VI: Overlay District, Harvard Square
  7. Series VII: Publications, Neighborhood Profiles
  8. Series VII: Sites

Physical Location

Collection is stored on-site


The Thomas Anninger Collection was donated to the Cambridge Historical Commission by Mr. Anninger in 2006.

Related Sources:

Neighborhood Ten Association Collection, CHC054, Cambridge Historical Commission, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A. Finding aid available here: link

Processing Information

Processing and finding aid by H. Alice Dodds, February 2007.

Encoded by: Brittany Fox, May 2020.
Inventory of the Thomas Anninger Collection, 1931-1989
Processing by H. Alice Dodds, February 2007.
Description rules
Finding Aid Was Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
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

831 Massachusetts Avenue
2nd Floor
Cambridge Massachusetts 02139 US