Community Connections: Young Men’s Catholic Association of Boston College records, 1875-1941

Printed in red and blue on white paper are the words Sound Instruction by Recognized Experts; Rates Low; Service Highest Grade; Open to Men and Women
Detail of a 1922 flyer advertising YMCA courses, Box 13, Young Men’s Catholic Association of Boston College Records, BC2001-074, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.
several printed tickets, each good for one string of bowling
Bowling tickets, Box 11, Young Men’s Catholic Association of Boston College Records, BC2001-074, John J. Burns Library, Boston College

The YMCA of Boston College was not “the” YMCA, nor was it an official part of Boston College. It organized in 1875 when Boston’s Catholic newspaper, the Pilot, published a letter from Boston College President, Robert Fulton, SJ, proposing the organization and inviting the involvement of area Catholics. He intended it to be an alternative to the popular, Protestant, and evangelical Young Men’s Christian Association. With an initial membership of about 200, it provided social and educational opportunities. These included dramatic and musical productions, debates, lectures, and athletic contests. For example, during the bicycle craze of the late 19th century, it had an active cycling club known as the “Fulton Wheelmen,” after the president of both BC and the YMCA of BC.

BC’s campus – then in Boston’s South End neighborhood – consisted of two main buildings – the college building and the adjoining Church of the Immaculate Conception. Both offered spaces for YMCA members’ use, including the library, gym, meeting, and recreation rooms. The Association reciprocated over the years by raising money to provide academic prizes for students and donating funds to the school. For spiritual benefit, YMCA members all gathered annually for a retreat during Holy Week at the Church of the Immaculate Conception.

The gymnasium, reproduced from “Brochure of Boston College and Its Associations,” Feb. 5, 1894, YMCA records, box 16, folder 5, Young Men’s Catholic Association of Boston College Records, BC2001-074, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.  

Lawyer and Black activist Robert Morris (1832-1882) lived near the campus and attended the Church of the Immaculate Conception.. Morris had a lifetime membership to the YMCA, and his son, Robert Morris Jr., was among its first elected officers – Librarian. In 1895, the Morris’ books were left to the Church of the Immaculate Conception by Robert’s widow Catherine; he majority of this library is now at the Burns Library.

“Brochure of Boston College and Its Associations,” Feb. 5, 1894, YMCA records, box 16, folder 5, Young Men’s Catholic Association of Boston College Records, BC2001-074, John J. Burns Library, Boston College. 

Eventually, “College” was dropped from its name, and the Young Men’s Catholic Association of Boston moved to its new headquarters (a property provided by BC) and its numbers grew. Its annual reunion, referred to as the “college ball” was a highlight of the city’s social season for many years. The collection’s scrapbooks include ephemera from these events, including tickets and programs, which sometimes include members’ portraits and biographical sketches.

From the Association’s beginning, lectures were offered to members. Evening classes, taught by volunteers, were added in 1910, with business and vocational offerings – along with Catholic Philosophy. By 1914, there were 25 paid instructors and an enrollment of 2,600. In 1923, lay women were first admittedand earned credits toward degrees from the BC School of Education. The YMCA’s evening school was eventally well known to local Catholics for civil service test prep courses.

collage of photographic portraits of fourteen individuals with their names
“COLLEGE BALL” BEAUTY SCENE.: FIVE HUNDRED COUPLES IN GRAND MARCH. ABOUT 3000 ATTEND ANNUAL CATHOLIC REUNION. MANY HANDSOME GOWNS ADD TO EFFECT. SOME OF THE PROMINENT FIGURES IN THE COLLEGE BALL LAST EVENING.” Boston Daily Globe, Mar 03 1908, p. 1. Newspaper clipping, Box 11, Young Men’s Catholic Association of Boston College Records, BC2001-074, John J. Burns Library, Boston College. 

Ursula Magrath (1875-1930), an East Boston native, was affiliated with the YMCA as an instructor for over 20 years. At the time of her death, she supervised civil service and grammar classes. Magrathwas also the first woman to earn a degree at BC – a master of arts in 1926. 

The collection consists of meeting minutes, scrapbooks, publications, and ephemera, dating from 1874-1941. Included with the publications are the programs and ephemera of the annual College Ball, including information about YMCA officers and members, along with material about courses, and career and trade preparation. To use the collection, visit Burns Library,  see our access plan for details.

A group of 26 men and women, posing on the steps of the YMCA.
Ursula Magrath, pictured with the YMCA Board of Government and Instruction Staff, Box 11, Young Men’s Catholic Association of Boston College Records, BC2001-074, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.
  • Shelley Barber, Reference & Archives Specialist, John J. Burns Library

List of works consulted:

15th Annual Reunion (pamphlet), Mechanics Building, Entitled: “Brochure of Boston College and its Associations”, 1894 February 5, box 16, folder 5, Young Men’s Catholic Association of Boston College Records, BC2001-074, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.  

Davis, Laurel, and Bilder, Mary Sarah. The Library of Robert Morris, Antebellum Civil Rights Lawyer & Activist, Law Library Journal 111, no.4 (2019): 461-508. 

https://bc-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/l6ucgu/bc_law_commonslsfp-2158

Dunigan, David R. A History of Boston College. Milwaukee: Bruce Pub. Co., 1947

https://bc-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/l6ucgu/ALMA-BC21331562780001021.

Fulton, Robert J. to the Pilot concerning the formation of a Young Men’s Catholic Association of Boston, and Pilot article transcriptions, 1875, Box 1, Folder 6, Robert Fulton, SJ, President’s Office Records, BC1986-020B, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

https://bc-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/l6ucgu/ALMA-BC21331143280001021

“FUNERAL OF VETERAN BOSTON TEACHER: ASSOCIATES PAY TRIBUTE TO MISS URSULA MAGRATH.” Daily Boston Globe (1928-1960), Oct 08 1930, p. 11. ProQuest. Web. 22 Dec. 2020.

O’Sullivan, Joseph F. “The Young Men’s Catholic Association of Boston,” The Stylus, vol. 19, no. 5, 6 Febraury 1906, pp.8-11. newspapers.bc.edu.

“URSULA MAGRATH, 30 YEARS TEACHER, DEAD: ON STAFF OF EAST BOSTON HIGH 20 YEARS LATER FIRST ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF PRACTICE AND TRAINING.” Daily Boston Globe (1928-1960), Oct 04 1930, p. 2. ProQuest. Web. 22 Dec. 2020.

“Young Men’s Catholic Association, ‘A harmless recreation,’” p. 40-43. Birnbaum, Ben, Meehan, Seth, author, and Gilbert, Gary Wayne, illustrator. The Heights: an Illustrated History of Boston College, 1863-2013. Chestnut Hill, Mass.: Linden Lane Press at Boston College, 2014.

https://bc-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/l6ucgu/ALMA-BC21439786030001021

Young Men’s Catholic Association of Boston College Records, BC2001-074, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

https://bc-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/l6ucgu/ALMA-BC21313146000001021

Posted in Archives & Manuscripts, BC History, University Archives | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Streaming Audio: Joe Lamont Irish Music Recordings, Reel 9, Side 2

Photo of reel-to-reel tape recorderFor all our readers and researchers eager to learn of new resources in Irish music, we continue a series of blog posts featuring audio from the Joe Lamont collection. The open-reel audiotapes in Joe Lamont Irish Music Recordings are a mix of live instrumental music—much of it from New York City’s Irish music clubs of the 1950s and 1960s—along with dubs of both published and unpublished 78-rpm discs. Compiled by fiddle player Joe Lamont (1905-1974), the collection is now digitized and is part of Burns Library’s Irish Music Archives.

This blog post presents the entire content of reel 9, side 2 in eleven audio clips. Where possible, the corresponding portion of Lamont’s typed tracklist appears below each audio clip.

Lamont's tracklist for reel 9, side 2

Lamont’s tracklist for reel 9 side 2, Joe Lamont Irish music recordings, IM.M145.2005, John J. Burns Library, Boston College


Reel 9, side 2, audio clip 1 (00:00 to 01:15)

  • Sean Quinn, fiddle
    • The Lark in the Clear Air (slow air)

Lamont's notes for audio clip 1


Reel 9, side 2, audio clip 2 (01:15 to 04:53)

  • Louis Quinn, fiddle and Sean Quinn, fiddle
    • The High Level; The Banks (hornpipes)

Lamont's notes for audio clip 2


Reel 9, side 2, audio clip 3 (04:53 to 06:50)

  • Louis Quinn, fiddle
    • The Silver Vale; Unidentified tune (jigs) 

reel9-side2-track3


Reel 9, side 2, audio clip 4 (06:50 to 12:08)

  • Sean McGuire, fiddle and probably Eileen Lane, piano 
    • Paddy O’Carroll’s (aka Brennan’s Favourite); The Idle Road (aka Falls Road) (jigs) (Copley CEP9-20)
    • McDermott’s; Mason’s Apron (reels) (Copley CEP9-20)

reel9-side2-track4


Reel 9, side 2, audio clip 5 (12:08 to 14:07)

  • Unknown musician, accordion
    • Garrett Barry’s (jig)
    • The Yellow Tinker (reel)

reel9-side2-track5-sansname


Reel 9, side 2, audio clip 6 (14:07 to 15:12)

  • Paddy Killoran, fiddle
    • Down the Broom (reel)

reel9-side2-track6-rev


Reel 9, side 2, audio clip 7 (15:12 to 16:25)

  • Unknown musician, accordion
    • The Yellow Tinker (reel)

Reel 9, side 2, audio clip 8 (16:25 to 17:33)

  • Paddy Killoran, fiddle and either Louis or Sean Quinn, fiddle
    • Farrel O’Gara’s (reel)

reel9-side2-track8


Reel 9, side 2, audio clip 9 (17:33 to 24:50)

  • Probably Paddy Killoran Club, various instruments
    • The Frieze Breeches (jig)
    • The Plains of Boyle (hornpipe)
    • The Maid Behind the Bar (reel)
    • The Newport Lass (aka The Trip to Athlone) (jig)
    • Gannon’s (hornpipe)

reel9-side2-track9


Reel 9, side 2, audio clip 10 (24:50 to 26:49)

  • Pete Reilly, whistle
    • The Skylark; The Fermoy Lasses (aka The Humours of Mackin) (reels)

reel9-side2-track10


Reel 9, side 2, audio clip 11 (26:49 to 31:12)

  • Probably Paddy Bán O’Sullivan, fiddle
    • Paddy on the Turnpike; George White’s Favorite (reels)
    • Seán sa Cheo (aka Jack in the Fog) (reel)

reel9-side2-track11


About the Joe Lamont Collection

Each audio clip in this blog post is from Audio file 99570_0001 (reel 9), Joe Lamont Irish music recordings, IM.M145.2005, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

The eleven audio clips above represent reel 9, side 2 from beginning to end. The side is 31 minutes and 12 seconds long and primarily contains unpublished music. The library-assigned reel number (in this case, “9”) is in the upper right corner of the tracklist.

Listeners may notice anomalies that originated on the tape: abrupt beginnings and endings, variation in sound quality and volume, and tempo/pitch alterations.

An emigrant from Co. Derry, Lamont began working for the New York City Transit Authority in 1926. As a fiddle player he was actively involved in establishing clubs for Irish musicians in his adopted city. He brought his reel-to-reel tape recorder to live events; he also used it to dub sound discs onto reels. His personal collection of 60 open-reel tapes was donated to Burns Library’s Irish Music Archives by his nephew James Lowney.  Boston College Libraries digitized and described the collection as part of a 2018 Recordings at Risk digitization grant project.

Further details about the collection can be viewed by downloading the collection’s finding aid and viewing the latest blog posts about the Joe Lamont collection.  If you have questions, comments, or additional information to share with us, we invite you to contact the Library.

— Elizabeth Sweeney, Irish Music Librarian, Burns Library

Sources Consulted

  • Dalton, Ciarán. “The Sullivans of Baltygarron, Spa, County Kerry.” In Ardfert by the Sea: A Memoir of Traditional Music, Musicians and Dance from Ardfert, County Kerry, c. 1900-2000, 32-39. Fenit, Co. Kerry: Caherard Publications, 2009.
  • Henrik Norbeck’s ABC Tunes
  • Lamont, Joe. Spoken remarks to Ciarán Mac Mathúna, circa 1962.  Box 29, Folder 76, Séamus Connolly Papers, Series II.A, IM.M064.1999, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.
  • O’Sullivan, Paddy.  Spoken remarks to Ciarán Mac Mathúna, circa 1962. Box 29, Folder 76, Séamus Connolly Papers, Series II.A, IM.M064.1999, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.
  • The Session
  • McGraw, Ted. “Sean Maguire – 45 EP’s” (accessed November 17, 2020), http://www.tedmcgraw.com/Maguire_45s.html
Posted in Archives & Manuscripts, Digital Projects, Irish Music Archives, Irish Studies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meaningful symbols from a new Burns class format

In early October, Burns Library hosted our first hybrid class, Prof. Lisa Kessler’s Introduction to Digital Art, which normally meets synchronously online. Some local students volunteered to come in person and work with original format materials, and we paired them with other students working remotely with scans of the same materials. We are happy to report that this led to some of the most engaged partner work we’ve experienced as Burns Library instructors, as the students needed to work together to figure out what they were looking for and at. After a few distanced – and very quiet – classes, the chatter brought back a sense of normalcy to our session.

To facilitate students’ introduction to symbolism, we focused on the wide variety of bookplates available in Burns’ collections in a range of images and styles of illustrations. After introducing the history and function of bookplates, we helped them recognize symbols in the bookplate illustrations and think about how those symbols might work to communicate concepts.

After working with volumes, bookplates, and woodblocks with us in Burns Library, the students went to Bapst Art Library to review reference works about symbols. Prof. Kessler asked them to capture 20 intriguing symbols from various sources in anticipation of writing their design proposals for two tarot cards that incorporate symbolism and visual references in order to convey a complex meaning or tell a story.

In a new twist to showcasing this class’s student artwork, we also have most of their proposal language telling us a bit more about the reasoning behind the design. We really enjoyed seeing how their initial ideas became reality, and think you’ll enjoy them as well!

–Katherine Fox, Head of Public Services and Engagement, Burns Library

ANN ZHANG

Wheel of Fortune (left):

The Eight-Diagram tactics represents a tool for ancient Chinese augury. It is surrounded by the 12 Chinese zodiac animal patterns since prophet will ask his/her guest about their zodiac symbol to predict the future. There is also a yin yang symbol in the middle which represents Chinese philosophy of dualism, meaning that different and contradictory things are interrelated and give rise to each other. The whole picture is the wheel of fortune, it’s mysterious and unpredictable. 

The Homesicker (right)

Chinese mid-autumn festival is the day when family members gather together. This is a self-portrait while I was feeling homesick and couldn’t go back home due to COVID-19 and travel restriction. I was hoping that a rabbit will come down from the moon and use its magic to take me home. Rabbit is a spirit animal for mid-autumn festival and is also my zodiac sign. It is the sign of luck for me. 

DAVID SHEN ‘22

“The Hanged Man” (left) represents a figure viewing the world from a different, and possibly more correct, perspective than everyone else; the triangles on the border represent the change, while the main subject is the only one with open eyes, suggesting that the subject has a unique insight.

“The Tinkerer” (right) uses the symbol of spirals as a representation of creation, as well as the spider in the corner to symbolize creativity and growth. The paper cranes, a symbol of good fortune and happiness, foreshadows the coming joy and success after the figure has persisted through failing so many times.

WENYING (ELEANOR) TAO ‘21

The Magician (Right) & The Companion (Left)

The traditional Chinese style of representing the magician and companionship. Left, the background showing Chinese symbols of four seasons, representing the seasonal changes and persistence of the relationship. 

Right representing the connection between earth and heaven. Five basic elements on the bottom represent the earth in Daoism (fire, bamboo, water, gold, soil). Heaven in Daoism is emptiness; so the white represents the ultimate emptiness in heaven. 

GREG BORMES ‘21

The Hanged Man tarot card (left) transports hanging as corporal punishment into a 21st-century American context, where mass incarceration has made the spirit, rather than the body, the object of punishment. Specific symbols include a thin blue line to represent the American policing system, an inverted American flag formed by the bars of the cell, and handcuffs that frame the image. 

The Soul Searcher tarot card (right) represents the process of looking inward to identify the aspects of oneself to portray in a self portrait. The main figure is looking inside a shape inspired by a Sierpiński triangle. I used Celtic and Norse symbolism to represent different aspects of myself, including a Celtic ailm, Celtic knot, Norse valknut, and an eagle. 

JULIA KRAUS ‘21

I took inspiration from the many easily-identifiable symbols representing death and academics. I love incorporating bright colors in my work. So, particularly with the death card, I worked to meld my own personal aesthetic with the traditional meaning of the death tarot card. 

MARIANA FERREIRA ‘21

I chose to create two tarot cards based on my real life-understandings of two concepts: “The Older Sister,” (left) and “The Hermit.” (right) The hermit I created embodies a more modern rendition of “a hermit” that aligns closely with younger generations’ attachment to social media and technological devices, and the resulting detachment from the outside world and from natural imagination. 
“The Older Sister” comes from a very personal understanding of what it means for me to be an older sister to my two siblings, each of us rooted in our same heritage, yet particular in our own ways as we continue to grow into ourselves.” 

MARIANA JIMENEZ MUNOZ ‘21

Butterfly tarot card (left)

Butterflies are very powerful as they represent life and transition. They are a metaphorical representation of rebirth and this is why there is a baby behind the butterfly. 

After the butterfly is born, it grows as a beautiful animal and represents beauty and hope. This is also why the butterfly has a beautiful blue color. 

Fool Tarot card (right)

The fool for me represents humans and how they believe they are at the center of the universe. 

They are foolish as they think that nothing will ever happen to them and they see themselves as on top of the world. Because of this, the human is lying down on a very top hill without acknowledging that they might fall. 

Sarah Al-Mayahi ‘21

The World  (left)

The World is often portrayed as one woman, but in this Tarot card, the World is comprised of three women. They are all physically and spiritually intertwined in an attempt to represent the beauty and love the world emanates.  

The Balance (right)

This self-portrait aims to describe the characteristics of a Libra. The Libra is both level-headed and indecisive, and has a love for nature. There is both order and disorder, which is exactly what the Libra encapsulates. 

SOPHIA MILLER ‘23

In the Fool (left), the fool’s hat and the elephant balancing on the ball represents goofiness and entertainment. In the Heritage (right), the crane symbolizes happiness and youth, the cherry blossoms represent renewal, and Mount Fuji is just a classic representation of Japan.

HAOYI WANG ‘23

The symbolism I incorporated into my two tarot cards are quite different. For my self-portrait, “The Musician,” (left) I wanted the symbols to be a representation of me and of music. I used music notes as symbols to represent the flow of music. The spiral symbol on the music stand represents my growth as a person through music. For “The Lover,”(right) I used masks as a representation of the pandemic and how the pandemic has affected love and the demonstration of love.

CAREL CHOK ‘24

ALEXANDRA KREBS ‘21

Posted in Art at the Burns Library, Instruction Program, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Tale of Two Irish Harps: John Egan fine-tunes the national instrument

Display case showing two large harps side by side
The Burns Library 2010 exhibition “Dear Harp of My Country” featuring two Egan harps

This week’s blog post is guest written by Boston-based harpist and harp historian Nancy Hurrell, author of The Egan Irish Harps: Tradition, Patrons and Players (Four Courts Press, 2019). The Boston College Libraries helped support the volume’s publication through the Mary Stack McNiff endowment.

Visitors to Burns Library can be drawn to the many art treasures in the Irish Room, especially the harps on display. The two shamrock-covered Portable Irish Harps were made in Dublin in the 1820s by John Egan (fl. 1797-1829). In the early 1800s, this new harp model was pivotal to a continuing harp tradition in Ireland. Displayed side by side, the two harps provide a unique window into Egan’s work.

Visitors often ask, “What do the levers do?” The ivory knobs, called ditals, are key to this story. The ditals are linked by rods to a mechanism on the neck’s brass plate. When a dital is moved, the discs turn and the small ‘forks’ pinch the gut strings to raise the pitches by a semi-tone, thereby producing sharps and flats. In 1800s Ireland, the musical taste was for Italianate art music, as well as Irish airs, and both were playable on Egan’s harp model. Ireland’s venerable Gaelic harp, the country’s playable harp for centuries, was not idiomatic to continental art music and had become obsolete. The Gaelic harp, with wire strings and a fixed modal tuning, had been replaced in drawing rooms by newer instruments, the piano-forte and the French pedal harp. The inventor John Egan perceived a cultural need for a modernized Irish harp with chromatic capabilities, and these portable harps fitted with either ditals or ring stops (levers) revitalized the tradition of harping in Ireland.

Egan also understood the harp’s role as a symbol of national identity. Fusing old with new, his Portable Irish Harp model was formed in homage to Ireland’s oldest and most celebrated instrument, the ‘Brian Boru’ harp. With a bowed-pillar shape and small size, the Portable Irish Harp was touted in adverts as, “being the exact form as the beautiful antique Irish Harp in the Museum of Trinity College, Dublin.”

A small shamrock-adorned harp had potent patriotic associations, and Egan’s harps entered the marketplace alongside other nationalistic products like Thomas Moore’s Irish Melodies and Sydney Owenson’s (Lady Morgan) The Wild Irish Girl. The popular literary celebrities, Moore and Owenson, each owned and played Egan harps to enhance their public personas. 

The library’s Egan harps were gifts from Dr. Frederick and Patricia Selch (the blue harp) and Heidi Nitze (the green harp). Constructed in slightly differing shapes, the earlier, slender Selch harp has a dramatic contour with an extended ‘head.’ This exquisite sculptural form was fashioned from carved and laminated sections of wood. Although visually pleasing, the design was ultimately problematic in that the angled string tension on some harps caused the head to bend out of line. In contrast, the Nitze harp has a noticeably thicker pillar and a more rounded head, reflecting the structural design changes later adopted. Both have splendid ornate neo-classical swirling acanthus decoration.

Looking inside each harp’s base reveals some additional design modifications. While the Selch base is finely carved and gilded, the Nitze harp base is very simply constructed, perhaps reflecting the firm’s need to streamline production. Inside the Selch harp is a stabilizing rod culminating with a ‘foot.’ When extended, this ingenious accessory steadied the harp held in the lap.

The harp inscriptions give further clues to the firm’s rise in commercial success and a need to accelerate harp production. The blue harp is inscribed, J. Egan, Inventor / Dawson St. / Dublin, with ‘inventor’ crediting Egan for his dital mechanism. The green harp’s inscription is: No. 2036 J. Egan 30 Dawson St Dublin / Harp Maker by Authority of the Royal Warrant to His Most Gracious Majesty George IVth & the Royal Family, with a royal crest. In 1821 John Egan was awarded the coveted royal warrant from George IV for excellence in his craft, and with this prestigious seal of approval, the demand for these highly desirable instruments increased in Ireland, England and on the Continent.

Close-up of bronze plaque with engraving on harp
The royal warrant engraved on the Nitze harp designates the model as a Royal Portable Irish Harp.

Decades later, the Portable Irish Harp was regarded as the template for Irish harp design. The shape and shamrock decoration became standard and was copied by succeeding generations of harp makers well into the twentieth century.

–Nancy Hurrell, Harpist and Harp Historian

Resources Consulted:

1.Egan Harp Collection (IMC.M182) John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

2. Hurrell, Nancy. The Egan Irish Harp. Massachusetts]: N. Hurrell, 2011.

3. Hurrell, Nancy. The Egan Irish Harps : Tradition, Patrons and Players. Dublin, Ireland ; Chicago, IL: Four Courts Press, 2019.

4. Thomas Moore Collection (MS.1986.156), John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

For more on the Harp Traditions of Ireland exhibits, see the digital version of this exhibit.

Posted in Archives & Manuscripts, Irish Music Archives, Researcher Posts | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Illustration of a Political Campaign: Loyal National Repeal Association of Ireland scrapbook

Printed card with illustrations of a crowned harp, wolfhound, round tower, and shamrocks, and the words 'God save the Queen,' and 'Erin go Bragh,' 'The man who commits a crime gives strength to the enemy.' and'Peace, Law, Order. Temperance, Firmness, Unity.'
Symbols and slogans on a Loyal National Repeal Association membership card, 1847-1848, Loyal National Repeal Association of Ireland scrapbook, MS2007-019, box 1, folder 3.

The Loyal National Repeal Association was founded in 1841 by Irish politician Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847), the leader of the movement for the repeal of the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland. O’Connell fostered mass participation in the association at local and national levels through meetings, speeches, establishment of Repeal “reading rooms,” and fundraising and mobilization of the electorate.

A poster with an illustration of the former Parliament House in Dublin with the words 'It was and shall be' under a sunburst with the year 1782, and the phrase 'God Save the Queen,' A detailed list of rules follows
Detail of broadside “Rules for the Establishment of Repeal Reading Rooms,” undated, Loyal National Repeal Association of Ireland scrapbook, MS2007-019, box 2, folder 1.

O’Connell declared 1843 “Repeal Year” and began a series of large-scale public demonstrations, popularly referred to as “monster meetings.” The British Government banned a critical meeting at Clontarf, near Dublin, in October 1843, and later arrested and imprisoned O’Connell and colleagues for sedition. Upon release the following year, O’Connell tried to revive the Repeal campaign, claiming he would achieve repeal in only six months. When this promise was not kept, his power began to diminish. By 1846 the organization had lost political influence.

Printed card with illustrations of a harp in a sunburst over a crown, shield, and sword on the ground
Membership card, Volunteers of 1782 Revived, 1844, Loyal National Repeal Association of Ireland scrapbook, MS2007-019, box 1, folder 4.

Many items in the collection include the name of Thomas Mathew Ray (1801-1881), the engineer of the grass roots repeal campaign. Assembled as a scrapbook, the Association’s ephemeral documents (tickets, certificates, and membership cards) are now keepsakes. Through their chronological placement, the material can be viewed as one timeline of the Loyal National Repeal Association. The scrapbook was disassembled for conservation reasons, but copies of its pages were made and are included in the collection.

Printed certificate with illustrations of a seated queen and king, a child standing next to them, facing a seated bard with a harp, and a wolfhound, with the phrase 'Erin go Bragh'
Detail of a Repeal Warden certificate, 1843, Loyal National Repeal Association of Ireland scrapbook, MS2007-019, box 2, folder 1

The material illustrates the symbols of Ireland and Irish nationalism that were utilized by the Repeal movement: the shamrock, crowned harp, sunburst, wolfhound, round tower, and others. The loyalty of the organization to Great Britain is represented with the inclusion of the statement “God save the Queen.” 

Printed in green ink, illustrations on the card include a shamrocks with the words 'Disenter' 'Catholic' and 'Protestant' and the motto 'Quis Seperabit', the former Parliament Building in Dublin under a sunburst with the year '1782' and the phrases 'It was and shall be,' 'God save the Queen'
Using the former Parliament House in Dublin as a symbol of future success, Loyal National Repeal Association membership card, 1847/1848, Loyal National Repeal Association of Ireland scrapbook, MS2007-019, box 1, folder 3.

Those interested in political movements or Irish history, events or figures can see the whole collection by visiting Burns Library, or contacting us for information.

—Shelley Barber, ​Reference & Archives Specialist, John J. Burns Library

Sources: 

Boase, Frederic. Modern English Biography, Vol. 3. London: Frank Cass, 1965. 

Connolly, S.J., ed. Oxford Companion to Irish History, 2nd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. 

Crone, John S., ed. Concise Dictionary of Irish Biography. Dublin: The Talbot Press, 1937.

Davis, Richard P. “Ray, Thomas Mathew (1801–1881), political organizer.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 Sep. 2004; Accessed 10 Nov. 2020. https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-23205.

Geoghegan, Patrick M. Liberator: The Life and Death of Daniel O’Connell, 1830-1847. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 2010.

Hickey, D.J. and J.E. Doherty, eds. A New Dictionary of Irish History from 1800, 2nd edition. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 2003.

Loyal National Repeal Association of Ireland scrapbook, MS.2007.019, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Morris, Ewan. Our Own Devices: National Symbols And Political Conflict In Twentieth-century Ireland. Dublin, Ireland: Irish Academic Press, 2005.

For a closer look at Burns Library resources which aid in the study of the Irish historical events mentioned here, we recommend Sadie Sunderland-Rhoads’ series of Burns Blog posts: “The Act of Union, 1800” and “Catholic Emancipation.”

Posted in Archives & Manuscripts, Irish Studies | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Streaming Audio: Joe Lamont Irish Music Recordings, reel 9, side 1

Photo of reel-to-reel tape recorderFor all our readers and researchers eager to learn of new resources in Irish music, we continue a series of blog posts featuring audio from the Joe Lamont collection. The open-reel audiotapes in Joe Lamont Irish Music Recordings are a mix of live instrumental music—much of it from New York City’s Irish music clubs of the 1950s and 1960s—along with dubs of both published and unpublished 78-rpm discs. Compiled by fiddle player Joe Lamont (1905-1974), the collection is now digitized and is part of Burns Library’s Irish Music Archives.

This blog post presents the entire content of reel 9, side 1 in six digital audio clips. The corresponding portion of Lamont’s typed tracklist appears below each audio clip.

Lamont's tracklist for reel 9 side 1

Lamont’s tracklist for reel 9 side 1, Joe Lamont Irish music recordings, IM.M145.2005, John J. Burns Library, Boston College


Reel 9, side 1, audio clip 1 (00:00 to 04:06)

  • Probably Paddy Bán O’Sullivan, fiddle
    • Maid of Mt. Kisco; Reel of Mullinavat (reels)
    • Lark in the Morning (jig)
    • Hennessy’s (hornpipe)

reel9-side1-track1


Reel 9, side 1, audio clip 2 (04:06 to 07:03)

  • Probably Paddy Killoran Club, various instruments
    • Star of Munster; George White’s Favorite (reels)

reel9-side1-track2


Reel 9, side 1, audio clip 3 (07:07 to 17:46)

  • Probably Paddy Killoran Club, various instruments
    • Lark in the Morning (jig)
    • Dublin Reel; Rakish Paddy; Flogging Reel; Cooley’s (reels)
    • Hennessy’s (hornpipe)

Lamont's notes for audio clip 3


Reel 9, side 1, audio clip 4 (17:46 to 20:48)

  • Probably Paddy Killoran Club, various instruments
    • Winter Apples (aka The Connemara Stocking); The Scholar (reels)

reel9-side1-track4


Reel 9, side 1, audio clip 5 (20:48 to 28:17)

  • Probably Paddy Killoran Club, various instruments
    • Over the Moor to Maggie (listed by Lamont as Kitty’s Wedding); Duke of Leinster (reels)
    • Manning’s (aka Lost and Found) (jig)
    • Sporting Pat (aka Sporting Paddy) (reel)
    • Scatter the Mud (jig)
    • Maid Behind the Bar (reel)

reel9-side1-track5


Reel 9, side 1, audio clip 6 (28:17 to 31:24)

  • Probably Paddy Killoran Club, various instruments
    • The Dawn; The New Copperplate (reels)

reel9-side1-track6


About the Joe Lamont Collection

Each audio clip in this blog post is from Audio file 99570_0000 (reel 9), Joe Lamont Irish music recordings, IM.M145.2005, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

The six audio clips above represent reel 9, side 1 from beginning to end. The side is 31 minutes and 24 seconds long and contains unpublished music. The library-assigned reel number (in this case, “9”) is in the upper right corner of the tracklist.

Listeners may notice anomalies that originated on the tape: abrupt beginnings and endings, variation in sound quality and volume, and tempo/pitch alterations.

An emigrant from Co. Derry, Lamont began working for the New York City Transit Authority in 1926. As a fiddle player he was actively involved in establishing clubs for Irish musicians in his adopted city. He brought his reel-to-reel tape recorder to live events; he also used it to dub sound discs onto reels. Lamont’s personal collection of 60 open-reel tapes was donated to Burns Library’s Irish Music Archives by his nephew James Lowney.  Boston College Libraries digitized and described the collection as part of a 2018 Recordings at Risk digitization grant project.

Further details about the collection can be viewed by downloading the collection’s finding aid and viewing the latest blog posts about the Joe Lamont collection. If you have questions, comments, or additional information to share with us, we invite you to contact the Library.

— Elizabeth Sweeney, Irish Music Librarian, Burns Library


Sources consulted

  • Dalton, Ciarán. “The Sullivans of Baltygarron, Spa, County Kerry.” In Ardfert by the Sea: A Memoir of Traditional Music, Musicians and Dance from Ardfert, County Kerry, c. 1900-2000, 32-39. Fenit, Co. Kerry: Caherard Publications, 2009. 
  • Henrik Norbeck’s ABC Tunes
  • Lamont, Joe. Spoken remarks to Ciarán Mac Mathúna, circa 1962.  Box 29, Folder 76, Séamus Connolly Papers, Series II.A, IM.M064.1999, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.
  • O’Sullivan, Paddy.  Spoken remarks to Ciarán Mac Mathúna, circa 1962. Box 29, Folder 76, Séamus Connolly Papers, Series II.A, IM.M064.1999, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.
  • The Session

Posted in Archives & Manuscripts, Digital Projects, Irish Music Archives, Irish Studies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cable Code: Technological Shorthand from Another Era

Special Collections in many ways is a history of written technology. Browsing our collections is a tour through communication innovations– from vellum manuscripts to the invention of the printing press to the beginning of machine-press paper and the start of memos and digital files. Many of the things we often think of as unique byproducts of a particular type of technology can find echoes in other formats, if you look hard enough.

Take, for example, the current love of acronyms. In order to save characters and type messages faster, we often abbreviate phrases into a series of letters: ICYMI, IMHO, TTYL. While this ever-evolving lexicon may seem tied to the arrival of the cell phone, another older communication technology also privileged being as brief as possible. Enter the telegraph.

Continue reading

Posted in Archives & Manuscripts | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Designing Exhibits: Behind the scenes of the Burns Bestiary

To mark the launch of our newest online exhibit, the Burns Bestiary, I’m taking you behind the scenes for a look at what it takes to create the graphic design for this –and all our other exhibits– both online and in-person.

When designing new exhibits for Burns Library, I begin at a predictable place: the curator(s). I meet with curators throughout the exhibit planning process, learning more about the themes they identify and the collection items they select. Our most recent exhibit, Burns Bestiary, began about eight months before the exhibit itself was scheduled as a simple idea to present animal images found in our collections. This allowed me to be involved throughout the process, and to bug the curators with thoughts and ideas as they worked on their themes and item selections.

Beige background with the words Burns Bestiary in gold with red outlines. Four colored circles of red, blue, gold and brown underneath the words
An early design concept for the Burns Bestiary exhibit, inspired by medieval bestiaries and historical sources for animal images

As the curators refine their ideas, finalize material selection, and begin to write the exhibit text, I present a moodboard of colors, fonts, and textures to help us work out the two main aspects of the exhibit: the promotional identity (meant to draw in visitors), and what the finished exhibit will look like in the cases. Together, the curators and I work to refine a visual identity reflective of their thoughtful curatorial work and based on my recommendations. Sometimes this is a straightforward process, with our early discussions ending in an approved first draft of the moodboard. Other times, we go in several directions and experiment with colors, fonts, and textures before deciding what the final exhibit will look like. In this instance, we played with several very different concepts before settling on one based on the exhibit’s organizational structure and highlighting the role of the landscapes and exploration in our Bestiary.

Light blue background with Burns Bestiary in black, curly type. Squares with other shades of dark to lighter blue to light green are above the image
A completely different, modern design for the light content planned for summer

The next step in the process of exhibit design is very different, and perhaps less exciting, than collaborating and creating with curators. Once curators choose items, Public Services staff begin scanning the relevant sections or pages at a high resolution. In Burns Bestiary, as in most of our exhibits, some of the scans will be turned into vector images as repeating stylistic elements, while others will be retouched and resized for either large-scale reproductions in the physical exhibit or small, web-ready files for the online version. This is where a robust workflow becomes key, as I often have 100 or more images to process. Processing them correctly ensures that each item ends up in the right place, looking great either in the case, on the poster, or on the web.

Close-up an old image of a sea monster in the ocean
Originally a small detail on a map in Munster’s Cosmographey (G113 .M86 1564 OVERSIZE), this sea monster was one of over a hundred images that had to be scanned at high resolution and edited to be ready for the exhibit.

Once the files are organized and curators have supplied me with text, I create at-scale pdf files for all of the print materials. Public Services staff and the curators carefully review them, and after a few changes and corrections, they approve the designs and layouts. For a typical exhibit, the approved files are sent to the graphics department of Boston College’s Media Technology Services, where Chris Soldt and his student workers print and mount the final panels on foamcore. For the final installation, the curators spend several days hanging panels and arranging objects., When it’s all ready, Public Services staff use the promotional images and branding I created for emails, posters, and website updates to spread the word of the new exhibit.

Compass rose with Burns Bestiary written on it dividing four sections - one of light blue sky with clouds, one of grass, one of water droplets, and one of purple mist
The final promotional design for the exhibit, inspired by the structure of the exhibit itself (exploring the animals of air, land, water, and myth)

In this case, COVID-19 prevented us from installing the physical exhibit, so it was particularly important that our files stayed organized and properly formatted in order to upload the content as an online exhibit. We’ve launched the Burns Bestiary online for visitors to explore at a safe social distance, and plan to have a physical installation as well whenever it is safe for our building to be at full capacity again.

–Kate Edrington, Administrative Assistant, Burns Library

Posted in Exhibits & Events | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Mysteries in the Stacks; or, The Allan P. Kirby Jr. Collection

Left: Protagonist Nick Carter and friends use rifles to ambush the bad guys, below, from a rooftop in Tokyo, Japan. Right: Protagonist Nick Carter and others watch a woman shoot a man outside a burning building.
Left: Carter, Nick, pseud. New Nick Carter Weekly 602. Talika, the Geisha Girl; or, Nick Carter’s Japanese Rival. New York: Street & Smith, July 11, 1908. Right: Doughty, Francis Worcester. Secret Service: Old and Young King Brady, Detectives 208. A Queen of Her Kind; or, A Beautiful Woman’s Nerve. New York: Street & Smith, January 16, 1904.

Dime novels were hastily written, formulaic and sensational stories marketed to teenage boys. Examples of the genre held in Burns Library are the related “nickel weeklies.” Popular subjects include detectives, pirates, inventors, and heroes of American history. Publishers employed an array of pseudonymous authors and anonymous illustrators to churn out tale after tale using familiar, recurring characters and situations. Issues were published weekly in New York City from 1887 to 1915 before being distributed throughout the country. Each included about 30 pages of text in double columns, with no illustrations beyond their covers —  where the casual racism, sexism, and violence that permeates the stories is on clear display. 

The protagonists, in a fortified wagon pulled by robotic deer, intervene in a fight between outlaws and miners in rugged terrain.
Left: Senarens, Luis. Pluck and Luck: Complete Stories of Adventure 166. Jack Wright the Boy Inventor, Exploring Central Asia in his Magnetic Hurricane. New York: Frank Tousey, August 7, 1901. Right: Senarens, Luis. Pluck and Luck: Complete Stories of Adventure 222. Jack Wright and his Electric Deers; or, Fighting the Bandits of the Black Hills. New York: Frank Tousey, September 3, 1902.

The advent of moving pictures for the same price hastened the dime novel’s decline in popularity. Dime novels or nickel weeklies stopped publication, but pulp magazines and paperback novels soon followed in their melodramatic footsteps. 

Young collectors purchased, traded, and kept issues of their favorite series. As those youngsters grew up, the urge to collect was bolstered by nostalgia. One such collector was Allan P. Kirby, Jr., who assembled a collection of Nick Carter Mysteries and Early Dime Novels, which could no longer be stored in Pennsylvania. Popular fiction is a collecting area at Burns, and the role of dime novels in the mystery genre made the collection a good fit.

Left: On the deck of a ship, the protagonist, Thad, shoots Captain Kidd. Right: During the chaos of a naval battle, fictional hero “Paul Jones” stands above the crowded deck of a ship on a rope ladder, waving an American flag.
Left: The Red Raven Library: Stirring Tales of Old Buccaneer Days 1. Captain Kidd’s Sea Swoop; or, Carried Off by Pirates. New York: The Winner Library Co., 1905. Right: Paul Jones Weekly: Stories of the American Revolution 3. Paul Jones’ Pledge; or, The Tiger of the Atlantic. New York: The Winner Library Co., October 14, 1905.

Dime novels are a lens to view American popular culture at the turn of the 20th century. Original issues are now incredibly fragile, since they were printed on cheap, acidic paper. Many images are available in digital collections and exhibits. Issues from the Allan P. Kirby Jr. collection have not been digitized, but can be requested from the library catalog using the Burns Library online request management system. These materials are stored offsite, so we require at least 3 business days notice before your appointment. 

The Allan P. Kirby, Jr. collection includes issues from the series Pluck & Luck: Complete Stories of Adventure, published by Frank Tousey (1891-1904); Nick Carter Weekly; New Nick Carter Weekly, published by Street & Smith (1897-1912); Secret Service, Old and Young King Brady, Detectives, published by Frank Tousey (1899-1912); The Liberty Boys of ‘76: A Weekly Magazine Containing Stories of the American Revolution, published by Frank Tousey (1901-1925); Red Raven Library: Stirring Tales of Old Buccaneer Days, published by Winner Co. (Street & Smith) (1905); and Paul Jones Weekly: Stories of the American Revolution, published by Winner Co. (Street & Smith) (1905-1906).

Right: The two protagonists fight with nine anarchist assassins in a room.
Left: Doughty, Francis Worcester. Secret Service: Old and Young King Brady, Detectives 453. The Bradys and the Chinese Juggler; or, the Opium Fiend’s Revenge. New York: Frank Tousey, September 27, 1907. Right: Secret Service: Old and Young King Brady, Detectives 89. The Bradys’ Battle for Life; or, The Keen Detectives’ Greatest Peril. New York: Frank Tousey, October 5, 1900.

—Shelley Barber, Reference & Archives Specialist, John J. Burns Library

Works consulted:

Cox, J. Randolph. The Dime Novel Companion: a Source Book. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2000.

Stanford University. Dime Novels and Penny Dreadfuls.

Posted in Rare books | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Streaming Audio: Joe Lamont Irish Music Recordings, Reel 6, Side 2

Photo of reel-to-reel tape recorderFor all our readers and researchers eager to learn of new resources in Irish music, we continue a series of blog posts featuring audio from the Joe Lamont collection. The open-reel analog audiotapes in Joe Lamont Irish Music Recordings are a mix of live instrumental music—much of it from New York City’s Irish music clubs of the 1950s and 1960s—along with dubs of both published and unpublished 78-rpm discs.  Compiled by fiddle player Joe Lamont (1905-1974), the collection is now digitized and is part of Burns Library’s Irish Music Archives.

This blog post presents the entire content of reel 6, side 2 in eleven digital audio clips. The corresponding portion of Lamont’s typed tracklist appears below each audio clip.

Lamont's tracklist for reel 6 side 2, Joe Lamont Irish music recordings, IM.M145.2005, John J. Burns Library, Boston College

Lamont’s tracklist for reel 6 side 2, Joe Lamont Irish music recordings, IM.M145.2005, John J. Burns Library, Boston College

Continue reading

Posted in Archives & Manuscripts, Digital Projects, Irish Music Archives, Irish Studies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment