Celebrating Jane Jacobs on her 100th birthday

May 4th, 2016 marks what would have been the 100th birthday of one of the most influential people in modern urban societies today. Jane Jacobs, a writer and social activist of the 1960’s, completely changed the look of and approach to industrialized cities with her revolutionary ideas, which still influence the development of urban areas to this day. Burns Library holds an extensive collection of the author’s papers and you can view the finding aid for the Jane Jacobs papers here.

Jane Jacobs was born to John and Bess Butzner on May 4th, 1916 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. After a brief career as a reporter in the Scranton Tribune, Jacobs moved to

Jane Jacobs_Vogue Portrait

Jane Jacobs’ portrait in Vogue magazine, Box 36, Folder 12, MS. 1995.029, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

New York City in 1938 to attend Columbia University’s School of General Studies. After two years of studying, Jacobs left Columbia to work at a variety of writing and editing jobs. She never completed her degree.

Jacobs was immediately swept into the up-and-coming topics of city planning and rebuilding in 1952 when she became an associate editor for Architectural Forum magazine. Rather than rely on formal schooling within this discipline, however, Jacobs based her then-radical viewpoints on everyday observations of her street in Greenwich Village. This prompted backlash from many professionals, who claimed that Jacobs’ lack of foundation in the field renders her writings useless and amateur.

Despite this outcry, Jacobs’ first book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, forever changed the field of urban planning. In her works, Jacobs espouses a diverse, tightly-knit, and bustling city to provide the best environment for both progress and culture. Jacobs believes most importantly that “cities have the capability of providing something for everybody because–and only when–they are created by everybody.” Her works eventually ascended to the status of college textbooks, a title they maintain to this day. Jane Jacobs proved that she will be heard and that her beliefs are here to stay.

In addition to instigating change from behind a typewriter, Jacobs plunged even further into social activism through her actions. Jacobs led protests, speeches, and

Jane Jacobs_Rally

Jane Jacobs leading a rally at Washington Square during the 1960s, Box 36, Folder 7, MS.1995.029, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

conferences against the bulldozer-happy movement of the mid- to late-1900’s. She proved herself unafraid even of imprisonment after her arrest in 1968 on the charges of riot and criminal mischief; her and her supporters rushed the stage of a public meeting regarding the construction of an expressway, which would have cut through Manhattan and displaced hundreds of homes, businesses, and families. This plan was eventually discarded, due largely in part to Jacobs’ protests against it.

Jacobs’ movement soon extended far past the boundaries of New York City to spread rapidly across the United States–even President Richard Nixon canceled his urban-renewal plan after the popularization of Jacobs’ ideas. She was contacted by President Lyndon Johnson, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and asked to appear at many conferences and exhibitions. Her reach extends even into modern times, with Jacobs-inspired concepts such as advocacy planning, smart growth, new urbanism, and social capital entering the lexicon of city planning and administration.

Jacobs moved to Canada in 1969 in protest of the Vietnam War. This did not mark the end of her activism, however; she carried her rallying cry of new urbanization to the streets of Toronto and all of Canada. Jacobs passed away in her Toronto home on April 25, 2006 after writing 11 books, preventing the construction of many speedways, and recentering city life on the people within it.

No matter what the cost, Jacobs championed the prioritization of the citizens within the city-limits. This idea, which seems natural to the modern-day reader, was a radical view at the time of Jacob’s activism. In the fast-paced world of new high-rise towers, it became clear that we needed a new voice, one that could provide an unbiased and simple platform from which to look into the future. Jane Jacobs rose to fill that need.

If you would like to learn more about Jane Jacobs or view her papers, please contact the Burns Library Reading Room at (617)-552-4861 or burnsref@bc.edu.

  • Madeline George, Burns Library Reading Room Student Assistant & Student in MCAS, Class of 2019
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The Legacy of Ancient Giants: Carrickglass’ Leaba-Dhiarmade-agus-Ghrainne


Wood-Martin, dressed in an aide-de-camp’s regalia, in Strandhill, County Sligo (1917), The Rude Stony Monuments of Ireland, Da920. W82 1888, Irish, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

The legacy of Sligo-reared archaeologist William Gregory Wood-Martin is defined by its complexity – a complexity reflected in his own homeland’s nature. In several ways, the Anglo-Irishman was an exemplary Briton. Born into the Ascendancy in 1847, Wood-Martin would serve as an officer in the Crown’s military, a High Sheriff of Sligo and a grand master of the Orange Institution. However, despite his “definitively British” affiliations, he would also become one of Connacht’s foremost antiquarians – dedicatedly writing on his rural surroundings and their relation to Ireland’s anthropology and folklore, giving the island’s “nationalistic revivalists” material to discuss. As a result, one might say that Wood-Martin was a man torn between two sides, his duties “British” and his interests “Irish.”

Leaba structures, megalithic crypts built for Ireland’s Neolithic chieftains, served as the major focus of William Gregory Wood-Martin’s The Rude Stone Monuments of Ireland: County Sligo and the Island of Achill (1888). Spread across the rural landscape, these constructions were often called “giants’ graves,” a term coined by the early Gaels – who believed that no mortal could have earned such a tomb.

Wood-Martin would claim that the leaba-Dhiarmada-agus-Ghrainnè in Carrickglass was the “finest … of the series.” Named for the mythical Diarmuid O’Dyna and Grainnè, who slept on leaba structures whilst fleeing an irate Fionn Mac Cumhail, the construction was said to have a 15-foot-4-inch-long covering stone, an 8-foot depth and six supports. Its massiveness is evidenced by the illustration below, which appeared in Wood-Martin’s book.


The Rude Stone Monuments of Ireland (Co. Sligo and the Island of Achill.) by W. G. Wood-Martin,  DA920.W82 1888 Irish, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Though presented as a “formal study,” this image seems to be affected by an exaggerated quality. The embellishment is understandable, given the subject’s relation to the island’s archaic past and age-old mythos. As Wood-Martin wrote, “Time, which antiquates antiquities, observes a quaint old writer, ‘and hath an art to make dust of all things,’ hath yet spared many of the Rude Stone Monuments of Ireland, which now ‘stand the solemn, silent witnesses of ancient days.’” In sum, much as these “giant” monuments rendered the Gael small, so too must they have loomed over the 19th-century Irishman – physically and abstractly.

Works Consulted:

W. G. Wood-Martin. The Rude Stone Monuments of Ireland (Co. Sligo and the Island of Achill.). Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, & etc., 1888.

  • Jim Hill BC 2016, Fall 2015 Making History Public Student

The images and content in this blog post are from the exhibit Historical Monuments, Monumental Histories, which is now on display in the History Department, Stokes 3rd Floor South.    This exhibit was curated and organized by Professor Dana Sajdi’s Fall 2015 Making History Public class, in collaboration with the Boston College University Libraries.


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Boston College Nursing II: Transitions, Traditions, and Reputations

As a part of their curriculum, BC nurses took liberal arts courses. The only problem was that because of the location of the Nursing School on Newbury, the best professors were more often than not unwilling to make the trip downtown to teach them. This was an obstacle the students found challenging not only in their time on Newbury, but once they arrived on campus as well. The male students were not kind to their new coeds, and school advertisements went so far as to pose female students as administrative assistants rather than intelligent women seeking degrees.[1]


Boston College School of Nursing Correspondence Regarding Athletic Events, BC.2002.016, William L. Keleher, S. J., President’s Office Records, Box 2, Folder 3, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

The struggles for female students did not end with poor teaching, taunting on campus, and false advertising. Girls on BC’s campus were relegated to off campus athletic facilities for personal use. What’s more, they were for a time banned from attending the men’s games, for fear of distracting the players on the competing teams and creating ruckuses within the stands.[2] Administrators on the Heights argued in letters over the ability of female students to attend games, and the morality of barring them when their tuition had a special fee for tickets to attend.

Also in line with sentiment at the time, higher education for women was still viewed with a negative stigma. Arguments against the Nursing program overall stemmed from the idea of the general public that nurses needed no further education beyond the rote skills to actually fulfill the role of a caretaker. According to this line of thinking from both the public and from sometimes bitter nurses trained without a college setting, a simple diploma program would suffice, no need for a legitimate degree. The difference at BC was the emphasis on leadership and nursing education, and these qualities along with those imbued by the liberal arts courses served to give BC nurses not only some of the best training, but also the best reputation in society. Countless thank you letters flowed in, praising the BC nurses for their skill and good manner.  One of particular note was from a representative for the National  Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which gave specific credit to the BC nurses for their


Boston College School of Nursing Correspondence Regarding Athletic Events, BC.2002.016, William L. Keleher, S. J., President’s Office Records, Box 2, Folder 3, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

knowledge and care.[3]
Traditions began to form within the Nursing School, which merged the Jesuit roots of Boston College with the kinds of activities and practices normally found in nursing programs. Capping and pinning ceremonies were annual events for sophomores and seniors, respectively, and each was marked with a commemorative mass often celebrated by Archbishop Cushing.  These events were indicative of BC’s unique combination of Jesuit and nursing education, and were even written about in The Heights.[4] Accreditation for the school brought increased prowess and legitimacy to the school, official as of a letter dated December 4, 1952.[5]

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From the Heart of National Politics to the Core of Culture: The Louvre

For more than eight centuries, the “Palais du Louvre” has overlooked the Right Bank of the River Seine, silently narrating France’s political and cultural development. The building epitomizes the adaptation of monumental structures necessary for their material permanence. Recognizing the Louvre’s transition from fortress to palace to museum, from private to public, not only illuminates shifts in French political attitudes – but also speaks to the enduring historical and cultural significance of the building and its contents.

In the 21st century, the purpose of the Louvre has not changed, but its messaging has shifted considerably. Public and academic interest moved, in the wake of the Second World War, from the museums themselves to the objects they contained. This change in interest coincided with the velocity of interactions between tourists and museums.

The messaging of the Louvre has included increasing levels of nuance, as the French experience entered into a stage of self-deconstruction. Treating the Louvre as a subject has given curators the ability to frame pieces in the context of their acquisition – illuminating the connection between an object’s origin, its acquisition history, and subsequent interpretations of its significance. Shifting the Louvre’s narrative flow in this manner allowed for an open dialogue with the past – a continual critique of older institutions and perspectives. For example, a critique of 19th-century French Orientalist paintings is now an integral part of the Islamic art gallery.


Paris : Its Sites, Monuments and History. Philadelphia by Maria Hornor Lansdale and Hilaire Belloc, DC707.L29 1899 British Catholic Authors, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

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Graham Greene and The Bodley Head

By the end of the 1950s, novelist Graham Greene, whose private collection is housed at the Burns Library, was already an established, respected author. His interests extended beyond writing, however, as he sought to enter the publishing world. He did so through his acquaintance Max Reinhardt, who had just become the chairman of The Bodley Head. Greene published his novel In Search of a Character with the company, joining a long list of distinguished authors published by The Bodley Head in its already impressive seventy-four year history, during which the company established itself as a premier publisher both in London and around the world.

To appreciate the history of this publishing company, one has to go

Bodley Head Blog Photos_John Lane

Photograph of John Lane from The Bodley Head 1887-1987, Z325.B7 L35 1987 Greene’s Library, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

back to the year 1887, when John Lane began The Bodley Head with partner Elkin Matthews in London. It was understood between the partners that Matthews would handle the financial side of the business; Lane was more interested in the endeavor because it would be fun. The company began as a seller of rare and first edition books and began publishing eighteen months after opening the Vigo Street office. Their first publication was a series of books bought from Reverend C.H.O. Daniel and resold by The Bodley Head. This first foray into publishing would inspire Lane to seek other works for publication, leading to the publication of ninety books in the company’s first five years of existence. Lane wanted to publish authors who deviated from society, who had a distinct voice and appreciated the beauty of art. Lane wanted these books to be beautiful inside and out, seeking to present editions that had an unique look. This vision was successful, as Bodley Head editions received praise both at home and overseas.


Original sign outside The Bodley Head’s first office,

The company certainly saw great successes in its early days, but it was not without its setbacks. Lane, in his pursuit of finding unique voices to publish, neglected the financial side of the business, much to his partner’s chagrin. When Matthews and Lane parted ways in 1894, Lane keeping the company’s name, the company struggled to

Yellow Book Front Cover 600dpi

The first volume of The Yellow Book published in 1894, the company’s lauded  but controversial literary magazine.

turn a profit to the point they neglected to pay some of their authors. These financial troubles were not helped by the fact that one of their authors, Oscar Wilde, was arrested in 1895 on suspicion of being a homosexual while reportedly carrying the company’s already controversial periodical The Yellow Book. Despite these setbacks, Lane was resilient in his effort to expand The Bodley Head. He opened The John Lane Company in New York in 1896, publishing at home and abroad a wide variety of books: musical books, biographies, memoirs, periodicals. The company did well enough, but was still struggling financially. After World War I, Lane was forced to sell his American company and refinance The Bodley Head, creating the public company John Lane The Bodley Head Limited. Continue reading

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John Henry Newman and the Oxford Movement

The British Catholic Authors collection of the John J. Burns Library spans a period of almost 200 years, stretching from the early years of British Catholic revival under figures such as Cardinal John Henry Newman, C.O. (1801-1890) to contemporary figures such as Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953) and Graham Greene (1904-1991). Although the collection contains countless pieces from over seventy authors, this series of post will focus on some of the more notable figures and works.

One of the earliest figure of interest is Cardinal John Henry Newman, one of the leading members of the Oxford Movement and one of the first converts to Catholicism during its revival. Initially a devout Anglican, Newman’s beliefs shifted as he worked to move the Church of England to an older form of worship and devotion, ultimately leading him to convert and become a leading figure in the rebirth of Catholic thought and spirituality in the British Isles. However, in his youth, Newman began his religious life as an evangelical Calvinist. It was not until 1824, at the age of 23, that he became an Anglican priest. It was in these early years that  Newman found his calling to a life of ministry, celibacy, and theology. In many ways, his reaction to his own Calvinism would shape his later shift towards Catholicism.

In 1833 Newman, by then a fellow at Oriel College in Oxford, took a trip to Italy to reflect on the growing controversies at Oxford that would lead to the Oxford Movement. It was during this trip that Newman resolved to devote all his energy to the educational, religious, and political aspects of this conflict. Newman’s reflections on his role in the movement are shown by a poem he wrote during his voyage from Palermo to Marseilles: “The Pillar of the Cloud,” often referred to by the words of its first line, “Lead, Kindly Light.” These measured lines are a prayer for guidance combined with a certainty that the author will lead a controversial role in the Church of England.

Title Page from the 1883 Illustrated eddition of "Lead, Kindly Light"

Title page from the 1884 illustrated edition of Lead, Kindly Light, PR5107 .L4 1884, British Catholics Authors Collection, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Soon after his return, the Oxford Movement began when Newman’s colleague, John Keble, gave a sermon called, “National Apostasy.” In it Keble called for a renewal of the English Church by reviving ancient Christian practices. For the next twelve years Newman, Keble, and others engaged in writing pamphlets, called tracts, which gave this movement its other name, the “Tractarian Movement.”  Concurrently, Newman and his friend Richard Hurrell Froude also published in the British Magazine the “Lyra Apostolica,” poems that reflected the practices of early Christianity.  Also printed in the same journal were papers published in 1840 as The Church of the Fathers.

Likewise, Newman published his parochial sermons, which sold well and provided their author with a steady income. In fact, many of the Oxford Movement’s publications, which concentrated on fine points of theology and church history, were bestsellers. There were ninety tracts total, all published anonymously, although the identities of the authors were widely known. The tracts were welcomed by some church members but opposed by others, because they seemed to encourage practices like those of the Roman Catholic Church. The tracts ended abruptly with Number 90, The Thirty-Nine Articles, published by Newman in 1841. In it he argues that a Catholic could in good conscience accept the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England. This controversial statement caused a national uproar. At that time, subscribing to the Thirty-Nine Articles was considered the infallible test of a person’s membership in the Church of England, and people were required to sign them for entrance to Oxford and Cambridge Universities. By saying that Catholics could do the same, Newman effectively challenged the position of Catholics in society. The fallout from Tract 90 eventually stopped Newman’s tract writing and led him to concentrate on preaching, writing, and pastoral duties.

The Tittle Page from Tract 90, also know as The Thirty-Nine Articles.

The title page from an early edition of Tract 90, also know as The Thirty-Nine Articles. BX5137 .N4 1841, British Catholic Authors Collection, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Newman’s activities in the 1830’s, though diverse, centered on a few major teachings: the Church of England is neither Protestant nor Catholic but is a middle way, a via media; the established Church of England inherits and displays the principal and necessary traits of the early Church; and the Church must call people to holiness. As early as 1839 Newman began to have doubts about his strong conviction that the Church of England and it alone properly embodies these points. In 1839 he read an article in Dublin Review by a Catholic priest, Nicholas Wiseman, which discussed the Donatist heresy in the time of St Augustine. According to Wiseman, Augustine believed that the truth in that dispute was found in the inherited doctrines of the Christian church. Newman began to wonder whether the Church of England or the Church of Rome was the true guardian of that truth. He struggled with these doubts for six years. Continue reading

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New Acquisition: “Easter Week 1916” manuscript account by Margaret Skinnider

“I arrived in Dublin on Holy Thursday…”

Although we are often excited about material the Burns Library acquires, we usually wait to tell potential researchers about our new collections until we’ve done our work: stabilizing and preserving through conservation and rehousing; arranging in a logical order; and describing through a catalog record and finding aid. Sometimes our enthusiasm gets the better of us, and we feel we must tell you about something before it is available for research; this is one of those times! We have just acquired from Loretta Clarke Murray, a private Irish collector, a significant body of material related to the 1916 Irish Easter Rising.

Here is a sneak peak of one item in the collection — an account by Margaret Skinnider set during Easter Week 1916 — we hope to make this and the full collection available to you in the next year.

Manuscript journal page

Margaret Skinnider manuscript, “Easter Week 1916”, Loretta Clarke Murray collection (MS.2016.016), John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

The Easter Rising was an armed insurrection by Irish republicans to gain Ireland’s independence from Great Britain. It began on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, when its leaders proclaimed the Irish Republic, and was fought in the streets of Dublin by soldiers of the Irish Citizen Army and Irish Volunteers. After an intense week of fighting, the outnumbered republicans surrendered on the following Saturday. Fifteen of the rebellion’s leaders were arrested and executed; hundreds of soldiers and civilians were killed and thousands wounded. One of the injured was Margaret Skinnider. Although Scottish by birth, Skinnider was an avid Irish republican, who played a key role as a member of the Irish Citizen Army and a skilled sharpshooter. Her Scottish accent enabled her to move freely about Ireland in the days leading up to the Easter Rising.

After fleeing to America, Skinnider published her account of the events in Doing My Bit for Ireland (1917), but our newly acquired, much briefer, handwritten journal appears to be her earliest recounting of those events.

Manuscript: "I rose next morning, Easter Sunday & shouted to my chum to get up for this was the day of the Revolution. She sprang up & we both dressed hurriedly & I set off for Rathmines Church. On coming out from Mass to my consternation I saw on the bills the ominous words, "No Volunteer parades today" I bought a paper, printed back..."

Margaret Skinnider manuscript excerpt, “I rose next morning, Easter Sunday & shouted to my chum to get up for this was the day of the Revolution…”, Loretta Clarke Murray collection (MS.2016.016), John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

In the journal, Skinnider provides a day-by-day account of her experiences during the conflict, beginning with her arrival in Dublin on Holy Thursday, through the action in which she was wounded, to her arrest in the hospital where she was recovering. The account includes encounters with James Connolly, Nora Connolly, Michael Mallin, Constance Markievicz, the Plunketts, and many others. Continue reading

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