Blog in Review: Summer 2012

Entrance to the John J. Burns Library

The entrance to the Burns Library is located on the side of the Bapst building that faces Commonwealth Avenue.

Dear Readers,

We hope that you enjoyed the stunning set of posts by the Burns Library student assistants and staff members featured on the Burns blog this summer. Materials featured ran the gamut date-wise as well as subject-wise. Staff members and student assistants spoke from varied work areas, such as the Reading Room, Archives and Manuscripts, the conservation lab and exhibit review. Highlighted materials and type of staff work reflect dates as early as 1497 and as contemporary as now.

In her post: A Day in the Student life at Burns Rachel Ernst reflected, “By providing a place not only for the objects themselves but for researchers and students to view materials, the Reading Room fosters scholarship and discovery through a multi-faceted approach to texts and images. The digital facet of the reading room allows information to become more widespread and accessible without losing the inherent materiality of the object. As I scanned and e-mailed pages to a distant researcher during a typical day at work, I realized that there was nothing typical about the purpose and actions of the Burns library. Rather, it is an intentional community committed to the scholarly potential I was struck by the first day I visited.”

Cover Sheet for Polka Composed by Gilmore

Cover Sheet for Polka Composed by Gilmore

The post entitled, Conservator’s Notebook: New Faces in the Lab featured Joshua Rosenfeld, class of 2013, conservation assistant and Becky Koch, conservation intern and how they brought special talents to the lab. The post points out the type of work an assistant in the Burns conservation lab might learn to perform as well as several interesting pieces that were conserved. Josh contributed to the lab in a variety ways: attaching book plates, treating leather, preparing exhibit supports, and assisting in exhibit installation. Josh also worked on the leather binding of Thomas Moore’s Irish Melodies. Becky who came to the Burns from the North Bennett Street School is a skilled bookbinder. In her time in the conservation lab she completed a number of projects including: surface cleaning two 16th century pigskin covered books, making a number of preservation enclosures, doing leather treatments, and assisting with exhibits.

The recent  exhibit in the O’Neill Library featuring manuscript material from the Burns Library caught the eye of Reading Room assistant Rachel Ernst and prompted her post reflecting on why the Unsung Music Pioneer: Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore and the Peace jubilees of 1869 and 1872 exhibit triggered happy memories for her as a teenager participating in a musical band.  Rachel’s post highlighted various documents and photographs and other historical material that tell the wonderful story of Gilmore and the Peace Jubilees.

Detail of the sequence Celi cives in colono, f114 of the Burns Franciscan antiphoner, MS.1996.097, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

In a two-part series Sam Keyes enlightened many people about the various types of prayers and hymns used in liturgical services in the late medieval world.  In his posts, Exploring the World of Late Medieval Liturgy and Music I and Exploring the World of Late Medieval Liturgy and Music II.  Sam not only highlighted exquisite books, such as the 1497 Augustinian Gradual, but he earlier pointed out how deep scholarly joy is to be found in finding something unexpected.

Archivist assistant, Trista Doyle traced the beginnings of the move from Boston College on Harrison Avenue to Boston College in its present location as she employed Boston College archival materials in a two-part series to share the story of the fund-raising, the purchase and the building of Boston College on the Heights.  A Hundred Years on the Heights: Acquiring University Heights and A Hundred Years on the Heights: Raising Funds for University Heights feature photos, letters and other historical documents that allow an historical look back into Boston College History.  Stay tuned for part three in this series.

A Boston Globe article about Donnelly Advertising’s 1968 billboard. John Donnelly & Sons records, MS.2012.004, Box 32, Volume 2, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

A Boston Globe article about Donnelly Advertising’s 1968 billboard, Box 32, Volume 2, John Donnelly & Sons Records, MS.2012.004, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Project archivist, Adrienne Pruitt in her post, Archives Diary: Organizing Like Mad Men shared the interesting story of the Donnelly Advertising Company.  While Adrienne shared with readers her own satisfaction in the work of organizing and making collections accessible to researchers she gave a good example of how to use such a collection. She traced the history of the company through documents and was able to point to how an analysis of the advertising itself over a period of years reflects cultural changes in a society.

In her post Information Wanted: Missing Persons and Missing Pieces research assistant Gráinne McEvoy shares her experience in working on a project related to entering data from historical newspaper advertisements into a searchable database. As Gráinne explains, “The searchable online database contains information taken from “Missing Friends”, a popular column that ran in the Boston Pilot between 1831 and 1921, most commonly used by Irish immigrants to make contact with lost loved ones. Several of the lives described in these advertisements stick in my mind. Among the most memorable are tales of elopement, victims of mental illness, inheritance disputes, or runaway children.” This post told of the Cantwell family, a family who was able to be traced to a greater degree than most of those placing ads.

We have many more posts ready for the fall semester and we look forward to hearing from you!

  • Kathleen Williams, Irish Studies Librarian

About John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections at Boston College

The University’s special collections, including the University’s Archives, are housed in the Honorable John J. Burns Library, located in the Bapst Library Building, north entrance. Burns Library staff work with students and faculty to support learning and teaching at Boston College, offering access to unique primary sources through instruction sessions, exhibits, and programming. The Burns Library also serves the research needs of external scholars, hosting researchers from around the globe interested in using the collections. The Burns Library is home to more than 200,000 volumes and over 700 manuscript collections, including holdings of music, photographic materials, art and artifacts, and ephemera. Though its collections cover virtually the entire spectrum of human knowledge, the Burns Library has achieved international recognition in several specific areas of research, most notably: Irish studies; British Catholic authors; Jesuitica; Fine printing; Catholic liturgy and life in America, 1925-1975; Boston history; the Caribbean, especially Jamaica; Nursing; and Congressional archives.
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