Cape Ann Museum

27 Pleasant Street, Gloucester, MA. Photograph by Steve Rosenthal


The Cape Ann Museum was founded in 1873 as the Cape Ann Scientific and Literary Association to provide social and intellectual development through lectures and classes on a wide variety of topics. The Association had no permanent home until 1923, when a benefactor enabled the group to purchase a Federal-period house in downtown Glouceste—the Captain Elias Davis House. Simultaneously the Association inherited the collection of art and ephemera previously held by the then defunct Gloucester Historical Society, and promptly added the word “Historical” to its name, becoming the Cape Ann Scientific, Literary and Historical Association. Since then the Museum has continued to expand both its building and its collections, always keeping in mind its mission, which is to:

Foster an appreciation of the quality and diversity of life on Cape Ann, past and present. Further the knowledge and enjoyment of Cape Ann history and art. Collect and preserve significant information and artifacts.

Today the archives of the Cape Ann Museum contain over 300 linear feet of document storage, amounting to over 120,000 individual pieces of paper. In addition there are special collections of log and account books, journals, Bibles, newspapers, scrapbooks, maps, files on several hundred individual artists, and an extensive collection of photographic prints, negatives and glass plates. The focus of the collection is on the history, industry and cultural expression of Cape Ann, but it encompasses a wide range of subjects within these parameters. From individual and family histories, to the records of religious organizations and local government, charities, labor and unions, trade, schools, celebrations, the performing and decorative arts, military history and much more. The materials relating to the fisheries and the granite-quarrying business are especially strong. The collection spans almost four hundred years, ranging in date from a deed signed in 1663 to the 2016 Yearbook of the Eastern Point Day School.

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