Fenway Park: Boston’s Bandbox

Fenway Park is one of the long-standing treasures of New England, that contains within it the history and tradition of many generations and their beloved baseball team, the Boston Red Sox. Nestled on the intersection of Lansdowne and Yawkey Way, it was originally situated to accommodate the crowded surrounding streets and neighborhood. It is the oldest surviving venue in American professional sports, and its reach in Boston extends beyond that of the baseball team that has called Fenway home for 106 years.

On November 18, 2017, Boston College will compete at Fenway Park against The University of Connecticut, along with four other storied New England universities: Brown, Dartmouth, Maine and The University of Massachusetts. This will be the 77th contest for the Eagles at the storied ballpark. Many great BC games and memories have been staged at Fenway Park, including, most recently, the 2015 Shamrock Series showdown against Holy War rival Notre Dame, in front of a sold out crowd of 38,686. Prior to that November evening, it had been over 40 years since Boston College last played in America’s bandbox. The owner of the Red Sox had put a stop to football being played on the ballfield because of the damage that cleats would cause to the turf, especially if the game took place in poor weather conditions.

Image of Fenway Park, Boston MA

Fenway Park, Boston, MA

In the 20th century, Boston College played many pivotal and historic games at Fenway Park, including many of their match-ups against Jesuit rival Holy Cross. In BC’s first 43 years playing at Fenway, they posted an overall record of 67-21-6. One of their most notable match-ups took place in 1942, when BC entered the contest as a heavy favorite at 8-0. Holy Cross stood at 4-1-1, and, as three touchdown underdogs, no one gave them a chance to keep the game competitive, not to mention winning the game. To everyone’s shock, not only did Holy Cross compete with Boston College, they throttled them 55-12, forcing 10 turnovers.

Fenway Park has also seen its share of events other than baseball. It has hosted football games (many involving BC), boxing matches, soccer, Irish hurling, ice hockey, and concerts. Just as the ballpark structure itself was modified to fit within the surrounding streets, the playing surface could transform to accompany most other major events. Boxing stars commonly fought at Fenway in the first half of the 20th century. The National Hockey League’s 2010 Winter Classic drew 38,112 spectators, who watched the Boston Bruins square off against the Philadelphia Flyers, amidst the snow and chilly conditions. Over the last 20 years, summer concerts by artists like The Grateful Dead, Florida Georgia Line, Billy Joel, and Lady Gaga  have generated a strong crowds and revenue while the Red Sox are on long road trips.

Image of NHL winter classic in Fenway Park, 2010

NHL Winter Classic, 2010. David Day, Boston, MA

Fenway Park has also served as a place for the community to come together. Catholic masses were commonplace at the ballpark for the influx of Irish immigrants coming to the city in the early 1900’s. Additionally, a pro-Jewish service, during which 40,000 people were present, took place following World War II. Another packed house of 40,000 gathered to hear a speech from Franklin Delano Roosevelt, right before he ran for his record fourth straight term in office. More recently in 2008, over 3,000 immigrants took their oath of citizenship at the park during a naturalization ceremony.The only bill to be signed into legislation at Fenway Park was done so in 2010 by Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, who supported legislation to guarantee insurance coverage for services for people with autism.

The integration of the ballpark into the community and surrounding neighborhoods played a role in the decision to extend its life and revitalize the Back Fens area. New ownership, led by principal owner John Henry, took over the team in 2002 and pitched their vision for the revitalized Red Sox and preservation of Fenway Park. Despite the pressure  to knock down the park and replace it with a new, modern venue, the new ownership advocated heavily for saving historic Fenway Park. They argued that the ballpark stood before any of them had even been born, and dedicated themselves to ensuring it would also be there long after they were gone. The ownership group pumped millions into improvements to bring Fenway Park up to the modern standards while retaining the unique historical features that make the park so beloved. Today, it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places at local, state, and national levels of significance.

Fenway Park is a linchpin of modern New England tradition and history. Many boys and girls grow up playing wiffle ball in their backyards and dreaming of getting the chance to hit at Fenway Park. Fenway has seen seven generations pass through its turnstiles, and thanks to the renovation efforts of the new ownership, its legacy will live on for a long time.

  • Matthew Sottile, Burns Library Reading Room Student Assistant & Boston College, Class of 2020

Works Consulted:

 

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Dialogo di Vincenzo Nobile Fiorentino della Musica Antica et Moderna

Vincenzo Galilei’s Dialogo di Vincenzo Nobile Fiorentino della Musica Antica et Moderna is well known to music historians as a book that marked the beginning of a transition from praising the idea of musical polyphony to believing in modernity and is often cited as contributing to the beginning of opera. Vincenzo Galilei was the father of the scientist Galileo Galilei, and he was a musician of note in his day. His book includes information that had only recently been translated from ancient Greek and had not been published elsewhere. Yet it is not only the content of Galilei’s book that makes it fascinating; the book’s history and evidence of its use are also of great interest.

photograph of musical diagrams with notations added

P. 37. There are musical diagrams to help the reader understand the ideas that are discussed within this book. As you can see the original owner added sharps in the places where they were missing.

When Galilei tried to publish the Dialogo he ran into some difficulties, which he mentions in his dedication to his patron, Giovanni Bardi. He claimed that the first publisher to whom he sent his manuscript delayed production under pressure from one of Galilei’s rivals. Galilei then sent a draft of his Dialogo to another publisher in Florence, resulting in many mistakes in this first edition. These complications also meant the work was not translated from Italian into Latin, the scholarly language of the era.

photograph of handwritten annotations in printed book

P. 48. The owner’s handwritten annotations as he painstakingly went through the book in search of mistakes

The copy of Galilei’s book in the John J. Burns Library has all of these mistakes. This fact was not lost on an early owner of this copy; though we have no information about who this person was, he or she left their mark by meticulously correcting all the mistakes in the edition. It is likely that the owner was able to do this by looking at a later edition that did not have the same errors as the first edition. This is not the only evidence of that the book was read and used—someone apparently also took the time to have the book rebound in a vellum cover, and also added a few blank pages to the front. Though the book has been rebound, evidence of the original bookbinder is not completely lost. There are splotches of red ink on the dedication page, which were likely the work of the bookbinder as he painted the edges of the book. This red ink is no longer on the outside of the pages due to later trimming, but, because of the original binder’s hasty work, we can see what the book’s outside edges originally looked like.

photograph of foldouts in printed book

P. 120. The book also contains worn fold outs, indicating a good deal of use from the previous owner.

Through this book, we can see that many people’s interactions shaped the books that are in the Burns Library today. Books are more than simply an author’s writing on a page and sending a work to a publisher. They show the work of many different people, from author to publisher, binder, and owner.

  • Angelica Carberry, Boston College, Class of 2019 and Student in Prof. Virginia Reinburg’s Fall 2016 Early Modern Books and Their Readers Course
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18th century Conduct Literature

For a female writer in 18th century Britain, the path to literary publication was marred by deep prejudice and obstacle; for a woman to publish was to go against what society expected of her. Conduct literature was one of the primary ways in which images of femininity were constructed and circulated. Many examples of conduct literature are housed in the John J. Burns Library, two examples being Frances Burney’s Evelina (1778) and Hester Chapone’s Letters on the Improvement of the Mind (1773).[1]

In 18th century Britain, people believed that men and women were innately different: men ruled and women nurtured the rulers. The primary image of “woman” was that of the “guardian of domestic happiness,” maintaining the household and creating a good life from her husband’s earnings. A woman’s most powerful asset was her social capital, which was inextricably linked with her honour, virtue, and reputation.[1] This simple idea provided a staunch obstacle to women publishing. Conduct literature called for women to be virtuous, modest, reticent, and, above all, not to be talked about, let alone published.[2] For a woman to publish her literary work was to risk being seen as immodest and almost monstrous by the conventional notions of the period.[3] Yet between 1750 and 1800, the number of published females doubled each decade. In this era, women’s greatest literary contributions were to the epistolary form, especially the novel.[4]

In the literary market, letters were valued for their authenticity and natural qualities, and there existed a strong belief in a female affinity for this specific kind of epistolary writing.[5] Women were believed to have a natural skill for the letter form because they were not hemmed in by the restrictions of formal education. Reading and writing novels were thought to be beneath the abilities of men, and the novel eventually became seen as a feminine genre. The epistolary conduct novel became popular, and a female archetype began to emerge in these works. An idealized model of femininity would be embodied in naturally intelligent, virtuous, and sensitive heroine, who, like the female reader, was finding her way in the world and discovering what it meant to be a woman.[6] This archetype is identifiable in Burney’s protagonist, Evelina.

Looking at the Burns copies of Evelina and Letters on the Improvement of the Mind, it becomes immediately evident that the books in their current condition reveal much concerning their use and popularity. Both books are in a poor state. In each copy, the binding is compromised and the thin paper has become patchy and oily with the passage of time. The books appear to have been printed and bound in haste, with little concern for individual quality. This is consistent with what we would expect of a work that was commercially popular, as there would have been a demand for rapid and large scale production. Chapone’s Letters on the Improvement of the Mind was very influential and saw at least 16 separate editions printed in the last 25 years of the 18th century.[7] The weathered condition of the Burns copy is testament to this popularity. It is also of interest to note that while each text was written by an English author and originally published in London, both the Burns copies were printed and published in Massachusetts.

Frances Burney and Hester Chapone took a risk when they published their works, as doing so did not fit expectations of the ideal reticent, retiring woman. As authors, women drew the short straw in the 18th century. Yet authors such as Frances Burney and Hester Chapone, while perhaps not planting it, nor seeing it grow to its full potential, very much fertilized the seed of female literary accomplishment and helped expand the possibilities that women could make for themselves in the world.

  • Beth Burns Dans, Student in Professor Virginia Reinburg’s Fall 2016 Early Printed Books: History and Craft

Works Consulted:

[1] Michelle Dowd and Julie Eckerlie, eds., Genre and Women’s Life Writing in Early Modern England (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2007), 169.

[2] Elizabeth C. Goldsmith, ed., Writing the Female Voice: Essays on Epistolary Literature (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1989), vii.

[3] Dowd and Eckerlie, eds., Genre and Women’s Life Writing, 171; and Gina Campbell, “How to Read Like a Gentleman: Burney’s Instructions to her Critics in Evelina,” ELH 57 (1990): 559.

[4] Elizabeth Johnston, “Deadly Snares: Female Rivalry, Gender Ideology, and Eighteenth-Century Women Writers,” Studies in the Literary Imagination 47 (2014): 5.

[5] Ibid, 46-47.

[6] Johnston, “Gender Ideology,” 3.

[7] Kathryn Sutherland, “Review of Conduct Literature for Women, by Pam Morris,” Keats-Shelley Journal 56 (2007): 228.

[1] Frances Burney, Evelina: Or The History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World (London: T. Lowndes, 1778), and Hester Chapone, Letters on the Improvement of the Mind Addressed to a Young Lady (London: publisher, 1773).

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Interning in the Conservation Lab

My name is Sarah Kim and I am a conservation/preservation intern at the John J. Burns Library. I am entering my second year in the Bookbinding program at the North Bennet Street School.

This summer, under the guidance of Burns conservator Barbara Adams Hebard, I had the wonderful opportunity to repair De Bello Belgico, a two-set 17th century series, written by Galluccio Angelo, SJ (1593-1674), about the early history (ca. 1592 – 1609) of the Dutch War for Independence from Philip II of Spain.  This book was previously owned by Carlo De Poortere (1917-2002), the scion of a famous textiles family who was known for his prestigious book collection.

Photo of Carlo de Poortere’s red leather bookplate.

Carlo de Poortere’s red leather bookplate.

Our first step was to document the condition of the book before treatment with standard images, including a label with the date and the condition of the book, a color grid, a detailed description about the book, and a ruler to show scale.

multiple photos of book before treatment

These are some examples of what the “before” photos should look like: a label with the date and the state of the condition of the book, a color grid, a detailed description about the book, and a ruler to show size.

It’s important to take pictures to show the condition of the book before, during, and after treatments so future users can see how it was conserved. Along with the images, conservators also prepare a treatment report to document the condition of the book before it is treated, the treatment that was performed during the repairs, and the result of the treatments. For pre-treatment condition reports, conservators make detailed notes about materials the book was made from and any damage. For example, this book is a full-leather, brown, mottled sheepskin binding, with bumped corners (see explanation below) on the boards, and red and blue flower patterned endpapers.

For the treatment, the first thing that I did was surface clean the books. First, I used a soft, goat hair brush to gently remove any dirt and dust on the boards, spines, edges of the text blocks, and the endpapers. Then, with the Gonzo sponge, which is made of dense latex, I would gently dab on all the surface to pick up finer sediments.

photograph of damaged ("bumped") corners of a book

The corners are damaged (“bumped”), curling into the textblock.

After the surface cleaning, I did some corner repairs. As you can see in the picture above, the corners are damaged (“bumped”), curling into the textblock. This is a common damage to books that have been used over long periods of time. Using a syringe, I carefully inserted a thin wheat starch paste into the boards at the corners to make them slightly damp and flexible. Then, with  binder clips, I clamped the corners with small support boards to assure that they dry flat.

Photograph of a book being repaired with boards, binder clips, and helping hands

The small mechanism holding open the board is called a helping hand.

These are now left to dry overnight. The next day, I performed the same process on the back board corners.

As you can see in the above pictures, the cover boards are much straighter than they were.  The corners are now much smoother after the treatment. “Unbumping” the corners also helps preserve the textblock too, reducing the risk of pages getting caught in the corners and tearing during use.

Finally, I sat by the lab’s fume hood to gently brush on leather consolidant—a solution of klucel-g and ethanol—on all the leather parts of the book. Have you ever experienced dark red or brown streaks or powder on your hands after touching an old leather book? That’s called red rot. The leather consolidant helps prevent leather from becoming parched and flaking off. In a way, it’s like putting lotion on your skin to keep it from drying out. Klucel-g is mixed in with ethanol because the ethanol will evaporate, leaving behind the consolidant to seal the leather. If you were to mix the solution with water instead,  you risk dampening the leather to the point where it can be permanently darkened. The ethanol acts as a carrier to the klucel-g until it is exposed to air and evaporates.

After the leather consolidant dries, the repair process is finished. To complete the treatment, we take the “after pictures.

Photos of volume after repair

Other than the “unbumped” corners, the repair does not show a significant difference. Nonetheless, after pictures are taken to be documented.

Book repair and conservation is part of the bookbinding curriculum at the North Bennet Street School. I am glad for the opportunity to put the skills I have learned at school into practice on a rare book at the Burns Library. I am also glad to have had the opportunity to be in a conservation lab working on other rare books as well. This summer, I also worked on preserving English novelist Graham Greene’s (1904-1991) collection of books by placing the dust jackets into protective, archival mylar sheets. I  also helped with emergency preparedness, monitoring the temperature and humidity levels in the Burns Library, and preparing supports for the Being Social Before Social Media exhibition. Working with Barbara has been an invaluable experience, because I was able to see the many overarching responsibilities a library conservator has and it only affirmed the importance of conservators in the bookbinding world. As I continue to study bookbinding this coming fall, it is my hope that I will be able to help preserve books and other materials that continue to tell stories of how the world has changed.

  • photograph of conservation intern working at bench

    Working hard in the conservation lab! You can see the brush and the sponge that was used to surface clean at the bottom of the picture.

    Sarah Kim, Burns Library Conservation Intern and North Bennet Street School Bookbinding student (’18)

Works Consulted:

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015067077621;view=2up;seq=766;size=175

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015067076342;view=1up;seq=262

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eighty_Years%27_War_(1566%E2%80%931609)

http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/BID/4840434557x0x786055/3808F359-9E8F-4F9A-97F5-33FD3EDBC530/786055.pdf

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Charitable Irish Society St. Patrick’s Day Dinner, March 17, 1953

A January 27, 1953 Western Union Telegram invited the newly elected, Senator John F. Kennedy (D. Massachusetts), to respond to the traditional toast to the United States at the 216th anniversary dinner for the Charitable Irish Society of America. Senator Kennedy responded to Robert H. Montgomery, then President of the Charitable Irish Society, asking for additional information about this tradition.

Image of Telegram

Western Union telegram from the President of the Charitable Irish Society, Robert H. Montgomery, dated January 27, 1953 to Senator John F. Kennedy. The telegram represents a request for the Senator to make a response to the Toast to the United States of America at the Annual St. Patrick’s Dinner planned for March 17, 1953. Box 17, Folder 3, Charitable Irish Society records (MS.1993.012), John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Image of Letter from John F. Kennedy

Typewritten signed letter dated February 25, 1953 from Senator John F. Kennedy in which he asks then President of the Charitable Irish Society, Robert H. Montgomery, for background on what kind of remarks typically make up a response to the toast to the United States of America.Kennedy inquired about any tradition or subject matter around the response. Box 17, Folder 19, Charitable Irish Society records (MS.1993.012), John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

 

While the Burns Library  collections contain no affirmative response to the invitation, we do know  that the future President did participate in the ceremony. How? The archival records of the Society contain a program for every annual St. Patrick’s Dinner (excluding the year 1847 when in acknowledgment of the Great Famine of that year, no dinner took place).

Image of Charitable Irish Program

Inside pages of the invitation to the Annual Meeting of the Charitable Irish Society, March 1, 1953. Nominations for officers of the Society appear as well as the list of speakers for the Annual St. Patrick’s Dinner planned for March 17, 1953. Box 17, Folder 19, Charitable Irish Society records (MS.1993.012), John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

 

The Charitable Irish Society, started in Boston in 1737 , was formed to assist newly arrived Irish immigrants in adapting to a new city and new country. As the oldest Irish society in the Americas, the Society has a rich history, an interesting and diverse membership, and an ongoing commitment to its charitable goals today, to assist new immigrants from any country.

The Massachusetts Historical Society holds the earliest records of the Society. The Burns Library holds additional records of the Society dating from the 1890’s to the present.

Each year the format of the annual St. Patrick’s Day dinner of the Charitable Irish Society was the same, and remains so to this day.  There is a toast to the United States of America, and a response.  Then a toast to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and a response.  Finally, there is a toast to the City Of Boston, and a response.

On the night of March 17, 1953, in the Sheraton Plaza Hotel, three key figures of government appeared and spoke:

For the United States: Senator John F. Kennedy

For the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Governor Christian Herter

For the City of Boston: Mayor John B. Hynes

The remarks of this powerful political trio offer an insight into the ideology, culture, society, and politics of the day in the City of Boston, the state of Massachusetts, the United States and beyond.

 

Image of typewritten letter

Black and white typed copy of a press release dated March 17, 1953 that contains the response to the Toast to the Commonwealth by Governor Christian A. Herter, a new member of the Charitable Irish Society. Box 17, Folder 19, Charitable Irish Society records (MS.1993.012), John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Image of the City Record from March 21, 1953

Page one of “City Record: Official Chronicle of Boston Municipal Affairs,” Volume 45, Number 12 dated March 21, 1953. Mayor John B. Hynes’ response to the Toast to the City at the Annual St. Patrick’s Day Dinner of the Charitable Irish society is included in this publication. Box 17, Folder 12, Charitable Irish Society records (MS.1993.012), John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

While Charitable Irish Society records in the Burns Library do not contain the response to the Toast to the United States,it was not difficult to locate a copy with a bit of thought, and realizing where we sit geographically.  The John. F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is just about 9 miles away from the Burns Library, in the Dorchester section of Boston. A search of the Library’s collections resulted in a copy of Senator Kennedy’s response available in digital format on the website.

JFKSEN-0894-012-p0006

First page of speech. Papers of John F. Kennedy. Pre-Presidential Papers. Senate Files. Speeches and the Press. Speech Files, 1953-1960. Saint Patrick’s Day speeches by various speakers. JFKSEN-0894-012. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

JFKSEN-0894-012-p0011

last page of speech.Papers of John F. Kennedy. Pre-Presidential Papers. Senate Files. Speeches and the Press. Speech Files, 1953-1960. Saint Patrick’s Day speeches by various speakers. JFKSEN-0894-012. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

The greater Boston area, rich in history, monuments to that history, and records of historical value, offers valuable opportunities to anyone who might want to research and write.  As one might glean from this brief article, information abounds in libraries and archives in the area, and what might not be held in one institution might very well be held in another. Knowing what is available and where is key to piecing together the puzzle that history can be. Consult this very helpful Harvard Library Research Guide for Finding Manuscripts and Archival Collections, Boston- Area Repositories.

  • Kathleen Williams,  Senior Reference Librarian, Bibliographer for Irish Studies, John J. Burns Library

Works Consulted:

Works Related to the Charitable Irish Society Records:

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My Work at the Burns Library

I am a first year Ph.D student in History at Boston College. I am primarily interested in the themes of power and colonization and in the unique historical environment of the Early Modern Atlantic World, especially the experience of the Irish throughout the Atlantic World. Unsurprisingly, Boston College is a unique environment for such an endeavor with a number of pertinent resources for my studies. One such opportunity has been my job at the Burns Library, where I work as an assistant to the Irish Studies Bibliographer, Kathleen Williams.

In this capacity, I have performed a variety of tasks to help Kathleen with her work. Some tasks have been simple, such as double-checking book orders with our catalog to make sure we do not order a book we already own. Some have been more hands on with the archival collections, like working through primary sources to either prepare for a class to use or for our own research purposes. Both the former and the latter have been immensely helpful to me as a graduate student.

Preparing primary sources for undergraduate classes has stimulated pedagogical interests. When professors bring undergraduates to Burns, they and Kathleen introduce the students to the vast resources at their disposal. They cover the basics of research etiquette and how to handle fragile sources, as well as how to engage critically with and interpret historical sources. Helping prepare the sources has introduced me to what it might be like as an instructor preparing a class around given materials: which sources might students find interesting? Which might best stimulate historical questions and analysis? How can this process get them thinking about interpreting the past? Watching the students engage with primary sources has confirmed my belief that students learn best through active and didactic experiences designed to be engaging and stimulating: having students engage in historical research is one of the best ways to encourage an interest in history.

Researching for our own uses has similarly been fruitful. Kathleen and I work with these primary sources to prepare the Burns Library’s exhibits, such as the recent Irish Women Rising Exhibit and, then, work on blog posts that further highlight themes of the exhibit. As a first year Ph.D student, I am still familiarizing myself with the resources available to me at Boston College and, also, still considering what avenues of historical research I may want to follow: this experience is certainly a good way to familiarize myself with Boston College’s resources! It has also helped me think critically about the past, how the public perceives the past via things such as historical exhibits, and what kind of questions I want to ask about the past.

  • Michael Bailey,  Student Assistant to Kathleen Williams and Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History
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Impersonation before and after Social Media: From Graham Greene’s “Other” to Jon Ronson’s “Infomorph”

In September 1954, writer Graham Greene received a curious letter from a man who had met him at the Cannes International Film Festival. There was one problem: Greene had never attended the Festival. Green responded, explaining that he must have met another Graham Greene. But this wasn’t the end of the matter. Over the next few decades, Greene would hear again and again of another Graham Greene traveling around the globe, passing himself off as his more famous namesake, and getting into various spots of trouble — including being arrested in Assam for selling weapons to outlaws and subsequently attempting to solicit bail money from Greene’s publisher. These events are documented in the Graham Greene papers, held by the John J. Burns Library.

In January of 2012, the writer Jon Ronson discovered that someone had created a Twitter account impersonating him and was tweeting what he considered to be nonsense. When he tracked down the account’s creators—who turned out to be researchers experimenting with virtual bodies of information that may possess emergent features such as personality—he discovered that shaking this double was harder than he’d expected. “The spambot left me feeling powerless and sullied,” he wrote. “My identity had been redefined all wrong by strangers and I had no recourse.”

These two incidents, separated by almost sixty years, seem startlingly similar in some ways and starkly different in others. It’s now easier to create a Twitter account with someone else’s name than it is to pull off the act in person, when a quick online search can pull up photographs of nearly anyone. It also seems like it’s easier to stop those digital impersonators, through features like account verification. While parody or fan Twitter accounts are permitted, an impersonation policy states that “You may not impersonate others through the Twitter service in a manner that is intended to or does mislead, confuse, or deceive others.” 

Photograph of telegrams Telegram concerning the arrest of Graham Greene’s imposter in Assam

Telegram concerning the arrest of Graham Greene’s imposter in Assam. Box 43, Folder 8, Graham Greene papers, MS.1995.003, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Both Ronson’s and Greene’s experiences with imposters led them to ponder weighty topics. For Ronson, his (ultimately successful) campaign to get his infomorph’s account deactivated drew a large amount of public interest and led to him writing about the consequences of virtual mob justice in his 2015 book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. As for Greene, he eventually wrote an essay about his strange relationship with his imposter, entitled “The Other … Whom Only Others Know.” It concludes with an anecdote about how, after a meeting between Greene and Chilean president Salvador Allende, a local newspaper accused him of being his own double. “I found myself momentarily shaken with a metaphysical doubt,” he wrote. “Had I been the imposter all along? Was I the Other?”

Visit the “Being Social Before Social Media” exhibit currently on display at the John J. Burns Library to see some of Greene’s correspondence and articles about his double trouble. The exhibit is open until October 5, 2017. 

  • Annalisa Moretti, Archives Assistant, John J. Burns Library

Works Consulted:

Graham Greene papers (MS.1995.003), Box 43, Folders 7-8, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

 

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