Boston College Nursing: Cushing Hall

After numerous struggles, the nursing students finally established their presence on campus. In 1958, Archbishop Cushing generously donated funds to allow the Nursing School a building of its own on the Boston College Main Campus. This building, still in

Copy of 13

The Pilot, June 14, 1958. BC.2013.28, Michael P. Walsh, S.J., President’s Office Records, Box  2, Folder 6, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

existence today, remains named after the Archbishop who funded it. In a Pilot article dated June 14th, 1958, a quote from Archbishop Cushing’s speech at that year’s commencement read: “‘We have no medical school here but we feel if we can help the nurses we also will be helping the doctors. I am happy to tell you I will donate the new collegiate school of nursing to the Heights.’”[1]


The building was not only named after the Archbishop, but it was decided the building required a portrait of its benefactor as well. So began a series of correspondence between Boston College administrators and the artist Peter A. Philippse to determine a size and price for the

Copy of 14

The Pilot, June 14, 1958. BC.2013.28, Michael P. Walsh, S.J., President’s Office Records, Box 2, Folder 6, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

portrait. Phillippse discounted his usual fee by a moderate percentage owing to the circumstances of the work, and the portrait was installed and viewed in Cushing when it was opened and blessed by its namesake. Even with this discount, the portrait was certainly costly. A letter from some dedicated alumnae to their fellow alumnae in the community explained the portrait and requested donations.[2]

Copy of K Alumni donations

Boston College School of Nursing Donation from Alumni, BC.2013.28, Michael P. Walsh, S. J., President’s Office Records, Box 2, Folder 9, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.



On March 25, 1960, Cushing Hall was officially opened and blessed by the Archbishop.    It was a day with much ceremony and fanfare, with schedules for the nursing students to act as guides for the new building and specific requirements as to their uniforms and demeanor.[3] The building was designed and constructed by the architectural firm McGinnis and Walsh, the same that had already been used numerous times on the Heights. They

Copy of J Plaque designs

Boston College School of Nursing Plans for Plaques in Cushing, BC2013.28, Michael P. Walsh, S.J., President’s Office Records, Box 2, Folder 6, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

completed it in a similar stone to the other buildings on campus, and used some gothic elements to tie the building in with others around it. Three plaques were decided upon for meaningful decoration in the building, which tied together the themes of religion and science.[4]


This new home on the Heights legitimized the Nursing School on campus. It became more acceptable for women to be on the Heights, and for coeducation to become more prominent overall. The visibility of women on campus eventually spurred Boston College to accept female applications beginning in 1970, when the school finally became completely coeducational. Today Boston College boasts a 54% to 46% female to male undergraduate ratio, and the current nursing program boasts about 400 undergraduates and an additional 300 graduate students.[5] After nearly 45 years in Cushing Hall, the Connell School of Nursing, so named after a benefactor, moved primarily into Maloney Hall in 2015. Nursing at Boston College has come a long way, and consistent with the motto of the university, it will continue Ever to Excel.

John J. Burns Library Collections Consulted

[1] Boston College School of Nursing Donation from Archbishop, in The Pilot, June 14, 1958, BC 2013.28 Michael P. Walsh, S.J. President’s Office Records, Box 2, Folder 6.

[2] Boston College School of Nursing Donation from Alumni, BC 2013.28 Michael P. Walsh, S.J. President’s Office Records, Box 2, Folder 9.

[3] Boston College School of Nursing Tour and Opening Ceremony Schedule, BC 2013.28 Michael P. Walsh, S.J. President’s Office Records, Box 2, Folder 7.

[4] Boston College School of Nursing Plans for Plaques in Cushing, BC 2013.28 Michael P. Walsh, S.J. President’s Office Records, Box 2, Folder 6.

[5] Boston College Factbook, 2013-2014, Boston College,

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The Pride of the Jordanians: Petra

The year 1812 saw a milestone event in the history of Near Eastern travel. After centuries of having been lost to the outside world, the ancient Nabataean city of Petra was rediscovered by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt – found in modern-day Jordan. Thus began an era of global fascination with what English poet John William Burgon memorably described as “a rose-red city half as old as time.”

Newbould 2

The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia: After Lithographs by Louis Haghe from Drawings Made on the Spot by David Roberts by George Croly, David Robert III, and William Brockedon, NC1115.R56 Williams Oversize, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Most of this attention would be focused on the imposing and beautiful temple of Al-Khazneh. This central edifice is pictured in British artist David Roberts’ illustrations, found in the third volume of the Roberts’ Holy Land series of travel books (1855). As conveyed by Roberts, Petra was an exotic object of wonder for the Victorians. Continue reading

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Mimicking a Monumental Past: Ramses II and Egyptian National Identity

After decades of building nationalism centered on Arabism and Islam, after simultaneously being prevented from studying Egyptology by colonial powers, modern Egyptians had an opportunity to make their ancient history a central point of their nation’s identity in the wake of Gamal Abdel Nasser’s revolution. Under Nasser, the statue of Ramses the Great would become a symbol of national pride – reflecting the struggle that Egyptians faced while trying to develop an identity that balanced their ancient history with the more recent influences of Islam, Arabism and Western colonialism.

Built around 1300 BCE, found buried in Memphis in the 19th century, the statue of Ramses the Great lent itself to Nasser’s purposes. First, the revolutionary saw an opportunity to link Egypt’s goals for the second half of the 20th century to one of the country’s most powerful rulers. Ramses’ legacy related to Nasser’s ambition to be a global leader. During a reign that lasted 66 years, the ancient pharaoh acted as a warrior and builder. His victories on the battlefield would provide funds and captives that made his works possible. Similar to Ramses, Nasser oversaw many massive construction projects, like the Aswan High Dam, that showed Egypt’s industry and modernization. Also, Nasser stressed economic and political independence; and by taking control of the previously European-dominated archaeological field, he used Egypt’s archaic history to show the state’s greatness during a time of Western intervention.

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The Land of the Monuments: Notes of Egyptian Travel by Joseph Pollard, DT54.P77 Williams, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

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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

  • 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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