Joachim Bouvet: the History of Cang-Hi, the Present Emperor of China

engraving of Joachim Bouvet, SJ

Joachim Bouvet, SJ, from Bouvet’s French history about Kangxi / Cang-hy and contained in Du Halde’s French encyclopaedia.

Joachim Bouvet was born in Le Mans, France, on July 18, 1656. In 1673, he entered the Society of Jesus in hopes going on a China mission. His wish was granted when King Louis XIV sent him and five other Jesuits to Beijing in 1685. The Cang-Hi Emperor welcomed the Jesuits and Bouvet, along with a fellow Jesuit, Jean-Francois Gerbillion, remained in the imperial court and taught European sciences. In 1679, the Cang-Hi Emperor sent Father Bouvet back to France with a gift of forty-nine Chinese volumes for King Louis XIV and to retrieve new missionaries. During his time back in France, Bouvet published two works about China, one of which is The History of Cang-Hi, the Present Emperor of China, held by Burns Library in the Jesuitica Collection. Father Bouvet returned to China in 1699 with ten new missionaries and a collection of engravings from King Louis XIV for the Cang-Hi Emperor. Father Bouvet became the interpreter to Cang-Hi Emperor’s son, the heir-apparent. Bouvet would stay in China until his death on June 28, 1730.

Title Page of History of Cang-Hy

Title Page. Bouvet, Joachim. History of Cang-Hy the present emperor of China. London : Printed for F. Coggan, 1699

Bouvet composed The History of Cang-Hi, the Present Emperor of China to King Louis XIV shortly after he returned to France from China. In the letter, Bouvet describes his experiences in China in detail, focusing on his interactions with the Emperor, Cang-Hi. He describes the Emperor as, “Well-proportioned in his limbs, and pretty tall, the features of his face very exact, with a large and brisk eye. He is a little crooked nosed, and pitted with the small-pox, but not so as to be in the least disfigured by them”. Bouvet greatly praises the Cang-Hi Emperor’s intelligence, stating that, “His natural genius is such as can be paralleled but by few, being endowed with a quick and piercing wit, a vast memory, and great understanding”. He also presents the Emperor as extremely capable in archery and talented in musical instruments. In his letters, Bouvet calls the Cang-Hi Emperor “the most potent Prince in the World,” and “a declared Enemy of a Lazy and Idle Life, for he never go’s (sic) to bed but very late, and rises early.” During his contact with the Emperor, Bouvet also developed great respect for the Emperor’s sons, brothers, and court officials.

The Cang-Hi Emperor believed a strong education to be crucial for a successful kingdom and sought out ways to increase his own knowledge in hopes that his subjects would follow his example.  In his letter, Bouvet recounts how he and the other Jesuits translated Euclid’s Elements of Geometry into Tartarian, which highly delighted the Cang-Hi Emperor. The Emperor then personally wrote a preface for the translated versions of the Euclid, printed a great number of them, and distributed them widely throughout China in both languages. The Emperor was also deeply fascinated with the scientific and mathematical instruments brought by Bouvet and spent a great amount of time examining their uses.

Portrait of the Kangxi Emperor in Court Dress, late Kangxi period

Portrait of the Kangxi Emperor in Court Dress, late Kangxi period

Toward the end of his letter, Bouvet compares the Cang-Hi Emperor to King Louis XIV, stating, “I will make bold to say, that in so many respects he resembles your Majesty, that like you, he would be one of  the most accomplished monarchs that ever wore a Crown.” However, in order for the present Cang-Hi Emperor to achieve the same happiness as King Louis XIV, he must “embrace the Christian Faith, and profess it with the same sincerity as you.” Because the Cang-Hi Emperor allows his subjects the freedom of religion, Bouvet is optimistic and believes that many Chinese can be converted to Christianity in a relatively short amount of time; especially if the Emperor himself becomes a Christian. Due to China’s large population, Bouvet writes, “we may promise ourselves all the hopes for success from those sent into China, which alone are more valuable than all the rest together, because they are likely to bring a greater number of infidels to the church, than may be expected from all the other parts of the world.” Bouvet appears to have enjoyed his time in China and, based on his experiences and observations, asks King Louis XIV to send him back to China with more missionaries.


The Kangxi-Emperor in armor

During his time in Beijing, China, Joachim Bouvet wrote several mathematical treatises and also served as the Chinese emperor’s envoy to France. Bouvet also made huge improvements in the field of map-making and mathematics. His efforts greatly advanced the interest of Christianity and facilitated the entrance and the labors of other missionaries.

  • Lilly Sun, Burns Library Reading Room Student Assistant & Boston College, Class of 2020

Works Consulted:

Bouvet, Joachim. History of Cang-Hy the present emperor of China. London : Printed for F. Coggan, 1699

MENTAG, J. V. “Bouvet, Joachim.” New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., vol. 2, Gale, 2003, p. 571. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Accessed 19 Apr. 2017.

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Programs, Reactions, and Outcomes to the Irish Women Rising: Gender and Politics in Revolutionary Ireland, 1900-1923 Exhibit at Burns Library

The acquisition of the Loretta Clarke Murray collection, a collection that provides a unique perspective on the Irish nationalist movement through the eyes and words of female activists, lent significant impetus to create an exhibit based on women’s involvement in the revolutionary period, 1900-1923. The Thomas and Kathleen Daly Clarke papers filled in the gaps with strong content on this topic and period.

Items on display reflected issues and events leading up to the Easter Rising of 1916, the ensuing Anglo-Irish War, and the Civil War that took place after the much contested 1921 Treaty with England. Some of the items on display were: a handwritten journal logging events of Easter week in Dublin, two versions of the constitution of Cumann na mBan (Irish Women’s Council), memorabilia from activist groups such as Inghinidhe na hEireann (Daughters of Ireland), and autograph books circulated by women imprisoned during the Civil War. Objects and texts gave viewers the opportunity to see through material objects how events affected the lives of so many. Several brooches—some styled after the Tara brooch, another incorporating a rifle and the abbreviation for Cumann Na mBan—added an opportunity for an intimate reflection of the events, issues, and the organizations that arose during this period of cultural and political activism. A particular highlight was a large and colorful embroidered panel featuring the Four Jewels of Ireland that was designed and executed by Maud Gonne.

Autograph book of women prisoners held in Kilmainham Jail, July-October, 1923.i

Autograph book of women prisoners held in Kilmainham Jail, July-October, 1923. Loretta Clark Murray Collection (MS.2016.016), cat. no. 18.

We also displayed an original copy of the Proclamation, on loan from The Irish National Famine Museum in Strokestown, Ireland, thanks to support from the Irish Heritage Trust.

Two events held in conjunction with the exhibit offered enhanced opportunities for understanding, adding threads of knowledge to weave a greater understanding around and through the objects on display. On November 18, collector Loretta Clarke Murray visited and was on hand for a reception co-sponsored by Burns Library and The Eire Society of Boston (below, left). The evening’s discussion, facilitated by Burns Visiting Scholar Louis de Paor and BC English professor Joe Nugent, focused on the continuing importance of the Irish language. On February 3, Lucy McDiarmid (below, right), the Marie Frazee-Baldassarre Professor of English at Montclair State University, gave a talk titled “Fairies, Rebels, and the Boundaries of the House in 1916” based on her award-winning study At Home in the Revolution: What Women Said and Did in 1916.

Burns Library has continued to reach out to interested audiences by highlighting six of the leading women of the Irish Rebellion in a series of entries on the John J. Burns Library blog. Posts have allowed us to provide more extensive information about these extraordinary women than could be contained in the exhibits panels and to reach those who cannot visit in person. These entries will also remain as an online reminder of the physical exhibit and act as advertisement for Burns Library’s Irish holdings.

The exhibit also offered students the opportunity to gain further insight into the time in Ireland’s history. At least seven classes visited the exhibit. Feedback from students and other visitors has been rich and varied.

Katherine Oksen, Burns Library student conservation assistant, helped to create mounts for items in the exhibit. Oksen wrote a blog post about her work creating supports and handling the pieces of jewelry in preparation of the exhibit, and commented:

“The opportunity to be able to work on the Irish Women Rising Exhibit was rewarding in that it took elements of events that I had been learning about in my history class and expanded on it, while simultaneously zeroing in on the people my textbooks have tended to ignore. While it would be naive to declare that I can understand exactly what these women went through, I was given a fresh set of stories and materials to at least try to. I really loved having my work and my studies complement each other.”

Catherine McKenna, the Margaret Brooks Robinson Professor of Celtic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University and department chair, brought students from her “Ireland Rising” course to see the exhibit and remarked:

“[They] couldn’t stop talking … about the dozens of interesting things they’d seen and learned. And as for me, it was a revelation—Mollie Gill, Margaret Skinnider, about whom I’d known nothing at all…”

The Boston Irish Reporter and The Heights Newspaper featured reviews of the exhibit. (See page 8)

In addition to showing previously unknown documents and artifacts associated with prominent Irish women activists, the exhibit also brought to light roles played by lesser-known women. It highlighted the significant but often overlooked contributions that hundreds of women made to Irish nationalist movements during the early decades of the twentieth century. Indeed, many members of the public enjoyed sharing compelling stories on how grandmothers, grandaunts, and other relatives participated in some way to foster the nationalist cause in this turbulent period.

Photograph of Loretta Clarke Murray

Loretta Clarke Murray , Boston College, November 2016. Photo by K. Tringale.

It is with great sadness that we must close our exhibit and blog series with a memorial tribute to our beloved collector, inspiration, and friend, Loretta Clarke Murray, who passed away yesterday as we were composing this posting. May you join in the splendor of eternal freedom the kindred spirits of the Mná na hÉireann – the Women of Ireland – whose brave struggles and strivings gained independence and human rights for your native land. May “Irish Women Rising” be your glory and ever our joyful refrain.

With admiration and affection, the staff of John J. Burns Library


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


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Edward Hartwell Savage’s Police Department Questionnaire of 1877


Number of miles of streets in your jurisdiction?

– Edward Harwell Savage, Chief of Police, Boston, Massachusetts


A Philadelphia Lawyer could hardly answer this interrogatory.

–  A. Erickson, City Marshal, Houston, Texas


Edward Hartwell Savage. Frontispiece, Police Records and Recollections, or, Boston by Daylight and Gaslight, Boston: J.P. Dale, 1873.

Edward Hartwell Savage (1812-1893) joined the Boston police in 1851, a time when officers were still called “the Watch.” Three years later, reorganization created the Boston Police Department, and Savage was promoted to captain and placed in charge of the station on Hanover Street in Boston’s North End. He knew the bustling neighborhood well, having previously worked at his brother’s North End grocery and as a “handcart man” at nearby Haymarket.

Boston’s population was growing quickly due to the annexation of adjacent cities and towns, an influx of newly arrived immigrants, and New Englanders moving from rural areas to the city in search of work. Savage’s career advanced, too: he became Boston’s Chief of Police in 1870.

In February 1877, Chief Savage sent a questionnaire to police jurisdictions across the United States and to several cities in the British Isles. The 122 responses he received are bound together in one volume at the Burns Library. They contain answers to:

  • Is your system municipal or metropolitan?
  • Number of square miles in your jurisdiction?
  • Number of miles of streets in your jurisdiction?
  • Number of the population in your jurisdiction?
  • Number of your police force in rank and file?
  • Pay of the chief of police?
  • Pay of patrolmen?
  • Average hours of patrol duty each twenty-four hours?
  • Days of vacation during the year under pay?
  • Do your officers receive their witness [court] fees?
  • Have you a mounted police? How many?
  • Do your officers wear uniforms? What color?

Scrapbook of questionnaire replies, Edward Hartwell Savage collection (MS2004.069), John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Chiefs, commissioners, and superintendents of police, city marshals, sheriffs, and others signed the forms. Jurisdictions and replies varied considerably – from such diverse places as London, England and Montpellier, Vermont. They include answers to questions about demographics, work hours and compensation, and even about use of uniforms – including their color. No surprise – when departments did have them, the vast majority were shades of dark blue.

In addition to this collection of questionnaire returns, the Ellerton J, Brehaut collection of Edward Hartwell Savage papers includes other Boston Police Department records: a listing of watchmen and records of duty, 1826-1851; a listing of police officers, 1854-1878; a record book of the North End, 1854-1859; and a ledger containing the signatures of owners of lost or stolen goods recovered by the Boston Police, 1861-1875. Savage also had a great interest in the history of his city, and the collection contains personal papers and manuscripts of his two published works: A Chronological History of the Boston Watch and Police, from 1631 to 1865, and Boston Events; brief mention and the date of more than 5,000 events that transpired in Boston from 1630 to 1880, published in 1884.

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

Works consulted:

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Matrix and the Whittington Press

Long may Matrix continue to excite mind, fingertips, and eye, for it is the unique                     ability of printing to be able to appeal to and satisfy these three senses                                       simultaneously that has given Matrix such a wide variety of material to choose from             in its first five issues.

                                                                                                                              —John Randle, Matrix I

          Print is a visual music which requires a highly trained organ of sensibility.

                                                                                                                     —Richard Kennedy, Matrix I

The Whittington Press was founded in 1971 by John and Rosalind Randall. An internationally acclaimed press, Whittington prints and publishes all of its work in letterpress. They have published over 250 books as well as thirty-four issues of Matrix, a periodical of book arts that is a triumph of letterpress and fine printing in and of itself. The Burns Library holds an entire run of Matrix as part of its fine print collection. The journal is concerned with fine printing and typography and serves as an annual review for printers and bibliophiles. Beautifully crafted, each issue contains tipped in items such as paper samples, pamphlets, and illustrations, providing a tactile as well as visual reading experience.

The Whittington Press is located in Whittington, Gloucestershire, England where it holds an Open Day every year, welcoming printers, book lovers, and other interested parties to view Whittington’s three presses in action as well as vendors, published materials, and other fine-printing resources. The press’s archive, including the only complete library collection of every book the press has published, is held by the University of Minnesota Library. If you would like to see the Burns Library’s collection of Matrix journals they are available in the Reading Room. Please call (617)-552-4861 or email to schedule an appointment.

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  • Rachel A. Ernst, Burns Library Reading Room Assistant & PhD candidate in the English Department
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Boston College Remembers J. Donald Monan, SJ (1924-2017)


Fr. Monan at Desk

Fr. Monan, 1974. BC2000_005_ref1266_001. Boston College faculty and staff photographs, Boston College. John J. Burns Library

J. Donald Monan, SJ, the 24th president and first chancellor of Boston College, died on March 18, 2017. The significance of Fr. Monan’s contributions to Boston College and the Boston College Libraries over his decades in office cannot be overstated. His tremendous efforts resulted in the building of many new campus buildings, including O’Neill Library. In acknowledgment of his many contributions and in his memory, the Libraries created several exhibits:

  • Bapst Library, Gargan Hall landing: Si monumentum requiris circumspice (if you seek [his] monument, look around)

Fr. Monan led the University throughout a particularly transformative period. From 1972 to 1996, every aspect of Boston College – academics, facilities, and campus culture – experienced profound change.

Featuring material from the University Archives in Burns Library, these cases feature the advancement of BC’s academic mission under Fr. Monan, with not only the addition of new graduate programs, departments, and interdisciplinary areas of study, but also an expansion of campus facilities to create state of the art teaching, learning, research, and student spaces. Also highlighted is how the BC Libraries benefitted from Fr. Monan’s vision for research, with the construction of the Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. Library (1984), the complete renovation of Bapst Library (1986), and building of the Law Library (1996). Fr. Monan set the BC Libraries on the path to becoming a member of the Association of Research Libraries, which was achieved under the leadership of Fr. Leahy in 2000. 

  • O’Neill Library, Level 3: The Libraries Millionth Volume 
Fr. Monan at millionth volume ceremony

Father Monan, flanked by University Librarian Mary Cronin and Academic Vice President William B. Neenan, S.J., at 1987 celebration marking the acquisition of BC Libraries’ one-millionth volume. (Gary Wayne Gilbert)

Fr. Monan and then University Librarian Mary Cronin commemorated the acquisition of the Libraries millionth volume in a celebration in held Gargan Hall on September 22, 1987. The volume and a photo of the event are currently on display in the main entrance lobby of O’Neill Library opposite the circulation desk.

The volume is a copy of the Decretals with commentary of Pope Gregory IX, printed in 1473 in Mainz, Germany by Peter Schoeffer, an apprentice of Johann Gutenberg. It was purchased by anonymous donor for Burns Library in 1986.

Fr. Monan at O'Neill Library Dedication, 1984

BC1991.098e, University Archives, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

The Boston College Libraries have created a digital exhibit in tribute to Fr. Monan’s many contributions. Drawing from available digital content, the exhibit includes multimedia content reflecting some of the ways in which Fr. Monan transformed the Boston College Libraries and the impact he had on the Boston College community.

Additional information, links, and resources can be found at

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Irish Women Rising: Kathleen Clarke (1878 – 1972)

Kathleen Clarke

Kathleen Daly Clarke, unknown photographer, 1924. Box 2, folder 5, Kathleen Daly Clarke Papers and Collection of Thomas Clarke and Irish Political Materials (MS.2001.007), John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Kathleen Daly was born in County Limerick in 1878 to a  family of strong nationalists; her father and uncle were prominent Fenians (republicans). Kathleen was raised in a home where sacrifice for an independent Ireland was encouraged, and sacrifice to the death was seen as an honorable one. After a seamstress apprenticeship, she started her own successful dressmaking business before she was eighteen.

Through her uncle, John Daly, she met republican activist Thomas Clarke. Twenty years older than she, and somewhat diminished physically by his time spent in prison for revolutionary actions, he was yet an heroic figure to Kathleen, and, in 1901, she left Ireland to marry him. They ran a shop in New York City, but, by 1907, Tom was anxious to resume his Fenian efforts and they returned to Ireland. They settled in Dublin and ran shops there, as well.

As a prominent advanced nationalist and a feminist, Clarke co-founded the militant women’s organization Cumman na mBan in 1914, and became president of its central branch. She also assisted with the production of the Irish Republican Brotherhood newspaper Irish Freedom, sold at her husband’s store in Dublin. Thomas Clarke was a key leader in the Easter Rising and a signatory of the Proclamation who was executed immediately after the Rising.  Shortly after her husband’s execution, Kathleen heard that her young brother suffered the same fate.

Kathleen Clarke

Kathleen Clarke with sons (L-R) Tom, John, and Emmet, unknown photographer, circa 1916-1917. Box 7, Kathleen Daly Clarke Papers and Collection of Thomas Clarke and Irish Political Materials (MS.2001.007), John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Though Clarke lost both her husband and her brother to the Rising, she remained a committed Irish nationalist, feminist, humanitarian, and successful politician.

A bag of gold entrusted to her by Tom was the base from which Kathleen established the Volunteer Dependents’ Fund to distribute assistance to families of Irish Volunteer troops who participated in the Rising. Four years later, she continued her humanitarian work when she co-founded the Irish White Cross to distribute funds raised by the American Committee for Relief in Ireland.

Clarke also became an active politician after the Rising. At the 1917 Sinn Féin convention, Clarke was an outspoken advocate for women’s rights, and successfully lobbied for the party’s policy platform to include equal rights for men and women. Clarke rejected the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, but continued her political career after the Civil War. She was elected to the Second Dáil as a founding member of the Fianna Fáil party and in the Seanad (senate) from 1928 to 1936. Then, in 1939, she was the first woman to be elected Lord Mayor of Dublin.

Clarke remained involved in humanitarian and political causes for the rest of her life. She died in 1972 and was given a state funeral in Dublin. Kathleen Clarke was a living embodiment of the political power that Irish feminist women demanded and then wielded in the early twentieth century.

See other posts in the Irish Women Rising series, commemorating prominent women of the revolutionary period, 1900 to 1923.

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

Works consulted:

Clarke, Kathleen (ed. Litton, Helen). Revolutionary Woman. Dublin: O’Brien Press, 1991

Frances Clarke. “Clarke, Kathleen (Caitlín Bean Uí Chléirigh) Daly”. Dictionary of Irish Biography(ed.) James McGuire, James Quinn. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2009. 


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Irish Women Rising: Hanna (Johanna) Sheehy Skeffington (1877 – 1946)

photo of Hanna Sheehy Skeffington in graduation robes

University College Dublin MA degree? . Stanley, photographer, 1902. Loretta Clarke Murray Collection (MS2016.016), John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Johanna “Hanna” Sheehy Skeffington, a champion of Irish feminism, an active advanced nationalist, and a socialist, was born in County Cork in 1877. She was the oldest child of  Elizabeth (Bessie) Sheehy and David Sheehy, a mill owner, member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and, eventually, nationalist MP (Member of Parliament). In 1887, the family settled  in Dublin, where Hanna attended the Dominican Convent on Eccles Street before leaving  for Europe in 1895 in an effort to recover from early stage tuberculosis. In that same year, Hanna won a scholarship to the Dominican St. Mary’s College. In 1899, she graduated with honors from the Royal University of Ireland, earning a BA in Modern languages and an MA in 1902.

After graduation, Hanna worked part-time as a teacher for the Dominicans on Eccles Street and, in 1903, married Francis (Frank) Skeffington. She and Frank both held strong beliefs about feminism and gender equality, and thus took one another’s last names.

Hanna was active in co-founding the Women Graduates’ and Candidate Graduates’ Association and the Irish Women’s Franchise League (IWFL). In 1912, she was imprisoned with other IWFL women for smashing government building windows. She was also a founding member of  the Irish Women Workers Union.

Photo of Hanna Sheehy Skeffington (left), Irish Women's Franchise League Rally.

Hanna Sheehy Skeffington (left), Irish Women’s Franchise League Rally. Unknown photographer.

Hanna and Frank, with fellow suffragist James Cousins, co-founded the feminist newspaper, The Irish Citizen, in May, 1912, and, by 1913, the Sheehy Skeffingtons held sole proprietorship.

Though a nationalist, Hanna did not join  Inghinidhe na hEireann or Cumann na mBan. She believed that nationalist women were relegated to a lower position than men in the movement, and thought that the fight for the vote was of utmost importance. She did, however, support the the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, as they had included language about equality for women and men in their Proclamation. On Easter Monday, she delivered food and supplies to those rebels who held the General Post Office, but did not participate in any military activity due to her ardent pacifism.

Frank attempted to organize a militia to stop looting during the Rising, but was arrested and executed without trial. Shortly thereafter, Hanna toured the United States to raise awareness of the situation in Ireland. Due to her well-known activism, she was able to secure a meeting with President Woodrow Wilson and impress upon him the need for Irish independence. A version of a major speech she gave was published in New York under the title British Militarism as I Have Known It and the publication was banned in the United Kingdom.

Like many other activist women featured in the Irish Women Rising series of blog posts, Hanna remained politically active despite the hardship of losing her husband during  the Rising. Hanna became a member of the political party Sinn Féin in 1918, and successfully ran for office in 1920. She served on  the Dublin Corporation (now Dublin City Council), and aligned herself with Éamon de Valera in opposing the Anglo-Irish treaty. She later criticized his policies for restricting women’s rights and freedoms.

Hanna never received a pension, supported herself through teaching and writing, and continued her activism and journalism until she died in 1946.

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