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History of Cape Ann


Collections at the Sawyer Free Library

  • The Cape Ann Vertical Files

This collection, located in the Reference Department, is a collection of file folders containing information about Gloucester and Cape Ann. It’s arranged by subject. The file is mostly made up of newspaper clippings from the Gloucester Daily Times but there are also other sources of information. If you’re searching for Gloucester or Cape Ann subjects that don’t appear in books, the Cape Ann Vertical File is a good place to look. The files must be used in the library and articles may be photocopied.

A list of subjects contained in the vertical files is available in PDF or Excel.

  • Active Storage

A collection comprised of materials about Gloucester and Cape Ann and by and about Gloucester and Cape Ann authors. The materials need to be retrieved by a staff member and used in the library. If we have two copies of an Active Storage title, one copy will go on the Gloucester Shelf and will circulate. Subjects include local history, genealogy, biography, the Charles Olson collection, and fiction. Materials are in the form of books, hand-printed items, maps, city documents and more.

* Charles Olson Collection – Materials by and about Charles Olson, a local poet. The collection is located on the Gloucester shelf and in Active Storage

* Richard Recchia Papers – Includes materials about of Richard Recchia, a local sculptor.

  • Judith Sargent Murray Papers

Indexed correspondence, essays and poems relating to Judith Sargent Murray, an 18th century Gloucester writer and advocate for women’s rights. This collection is on microfilm.

  • Gloucester Shelf

The library’s two Gloucester Shelves–one near the Reference Department and the other in the Children’s Library–are chock full of fascinating Gloucester history! In the Adult Department’s Gloucester Shelf you can find books about Dogtown, Cape Ann lighthouses, Portuguese Hill, the Sea Serpent, and more.  We also have Cape Ann oral history CDs. “Toward an Oral History of Cape Ann” was an oral history project that involved interviews of prominent and ordinary Cape Ann citizens between 1978 and 1989. Principal oral historians Linda Brayton and David Masters recorded 100 oral histories reflecting the cultural and economic past and present of Cape Ann.

The Gloucester shelf in the Children’s Library has fiction books by Gloucester writers and non-fiction books about Gloucester.

Unlike some library’s local history collections, everything on the Gloucester Shelves can be checked out.

  • Local Newspapers

Newspapers on microfilm are available in the Reference Department. Microfilm copies are $.15 a page, payable at the Reference Desk.

* Cape Ann Advertiser (weekly) (1857-1900)

* Cape Ann Bulletin (weekly) (1/1833-12/1855, 9/1877-12/1882, 2/1886- 4/1887)

* Cape Ann Evening Breeze (weekly) (8/29/1884-11/1901, missing May-August 1897)

* Cape Ann Light & Gloucester Telegraph (weekly) (1/07/1843-12/31/1873, missing 1/5/1847-1/15/1856)

* Cape Ann News (daily) (12/02/1901-12/31/1902)

* Cape Ann Revolver (February & April 1867)

* Christian Neighbor (11/07/1827)

* Essex Register (1807-1820)

* Gloucester Daily News (10/11/1848-11/1901)

* Gloucester Daily Times (1888-present)

* Gloucester Democrat (bi-weekly) (8/19/1834-2/17/1838)

* The Gloucester News and Semi-Weekly Messenger (10/11/1848-8/30/1851)

* Gloucester Telegraph (weekly) (12/29/1827-9/27/1876)

* Impartial Register (1800-1801)

* Ipswich Bulletin (10/12/1866-12/21/1866)

* Jeffersonian Republic (10/15/1838-11/23/1838)

* Salem Register (1802-1807)

* Temperance Gleaner (6/1/1864)

* Trumps (10/23/1867)

Explore Gloucester and Cape Ann visually! Popular topics include Annisquam, Magnolia, Cape Ann beaches, the fishing industry, lighthouses, and more.

Use this collection for full-text articles from 50 magazines and local newspapers for coverage of Massachusetts people, places and historical events. You will need a Massachusetts library barcode to login to this database.

Other Cape Ann Resources

Compiled in 1965 and updated in 1978.

Cape Ann Museum houses both a library and a document/photographic archive that provides resources for the study of the industrial, social, maritime and art history of Cape Ann. An historical photographic collection is also available for purchase or research.

* The Legacy of Cape Ann This article written by Judith McCulloch, the former director of the Cape Ann Museum, is a wonderful summary of the some of the Museum’s collection that reflect the artist community that exists in Gloucester. From Fitz Henry Lane to Edward Hopper to John Sloan, Cape Ann area has drawn a dazzling array of talented artists to its shores, and the community is fortunate in having an institution to curate and showcase their works.

* Archives

* Library

* Historic Photograph Collection

There are dozens of museums and historical sites on Cape Ann.

The Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS) allows you to search the Massachusetts Historical Commission database for information on historic properties and areas in the Commonwealth.

The Historical Marker Database (THMD) is a national database of signs and markers that designate historical sites across the United States. The database welcomes information and photos from the general public in order to update its collection.

Maritime Gloucester is a working waterfront museum offering students and visitors hands-on educational experiences concerning marine science, maritime history and heritage, and environmental stewardship.

Magnolia Historical Society retains a collection of memorabilia from Magnolia’s rich past as a summer retreat for the wealthy and famous.

  • Dogtown

Dogtown is a wooded area in Gloucester of about five square miles, or 3600 acres. From 1642 to fifty years after the Revolutionary War, the Commons Settlement flourished then disappeared, leaving behind the cellar holes of the houses as well boulders engraved with interesting messages. Artists, poets and many other visitors have found inspiration and enjoyment in the beauty and history of this unique place.

* Map of Dogtown

* Babson Boulder Trail Map

The Gloucester HarborWalk is a public path built to offer an engaging experience for all. Walk our historic city and enjoy our downtown harbor on this self-guided path. The walk supplemented with an accompanying online experience that is compatible with most popular smartphone, tablet and desktop computers.