Revealing Connections: The Louise Bonar and Carol Wolfe Collection of Boston Educational Materials

Louise Bonar from the Citywide Coordinating Council Annual Report, 1975-1976, Box 28, Folder 3, Louise Bonar and Carol Wolfe Collection of Boston Educational Materials, MS.1989.30-28-3, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.Louise Bonar from the Citywide Coordinating Council Annual Report, 1975-1976, Box 28, Folder 3, Louise Bonar and Carol Wolfe Collection of Boston Educational Materials, MS.1989.30-28-3, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Louise Bonar from the Citywide Coordinating Council Annual Report, 1975-1976, Box 28, Folder 3, Louise Bonar and Carol Wolfe Collection of Boston Educational Materials, MS.1989.30, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

The archival world can be full of connections. When archivists write finding aids, we add a helpful but sometimes overlooked note on related collections . Think of the related materials note as Amazon.com suggestions for research: “I see you’re using the Citywide Coordinating Council Records (Finding Aid at http://hdl.handle.net/2345/2936)! Other patrons who used this collection were also interested in the Louise Bonar and Carol Wolfe Collection of Boston Educational Materials (Finding Aid at http://hdl.handle.net/2345/2954)!” Sometimes related collections simply cover the same general topic area, but others, like the two above, are more directly connected.

W. Arthur Garrity Jr.’s end of the year memo to citizen participation group members, Box 30, Folder 11, Item 2, MS.1989.30, Louise Bonar and Carol Wolfe Collection of Boston Educational Materials, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

W. Arthur Garrity Jr.’s end of the year memo to citizen participation group members, Box 30, Folder 11, Item 2, MS.1989.30, Louise Bonar and Carol Wolfe Collection of Boston Educational Materials, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Louise Bonar was a teacher and community activist who served as one of the original forty-two members of the Citywide Coordinating Council (CCC) from 1975 to 1976, and was part of the Community District Advisory Council for the Allston, Brighton, Mission Hill, and Fenway area school district (CDAC 1). Beyond her work with the CCC, her papers reflect her deep interest and continued involvement in education reform. In the late 1960s, she chaired the Parents Advisory Council of the Model Demonstration Subsystem, an experimental program that ran in four of Boston’s Public Schools. She also worked on several home and school associations and was an active part of the innovative Store-Front Learning Center in Boston’s South End.  Carol Wolfe was an administrator for CDAC 1 and kept their minutes and administrative files.   In 1988, knowing that Boston College held the CCC records, Bonar and Wolfe each donated their papers to complement our existing holdings.

A page from the Store-front Learning Center Student and Staff Exchange trip scrapbook, May/June 1974, MS.1990.010, Louise Bonar and Carol Wolfe Collection of Boston Educational Materials, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

A page from the Store-front Learning Center Student and Staff Exchange trip scrapbook, May/June 1974, MS.1990.010, Louise Bonar and Carol Wolfe Collection of Boston Educational Materials, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

As you might recall from our first post on the CCC, the Council was officially dissolved in 1978. Though Bonar continued to be involved with CDAC 1, and was active in grassroots movements toward education equality and reform, she served on the Citywide Coordinating Council for only one year. At the end of 1976 Judge W. Arthur Garrity Jr., whose ruling on the Boston Public Schools’ failed first efforts to desegregate schools created the CCC, sent a memo thanking those involved for their difficult service over the past year despite “the disruptive efforts of hecklers and vandals.”  Official memos are certainly preserved in the CCC records    yet institutional records lack telling documents like Bonar’s frank reply to Garrity’s message. “You are right,” she wrote, “it was a burden without recompense… [I] feel very bitter about the experience.” Bonar was frustrated with her work for the CCC, citing an “uncommunicative director,” and the “low level skills of staff,” while volunteers did most of the work.  The CCC’s first annual report, a cheerful record of accomplishments, was “totally phony.”  Here we see one individual’s experience in contrast to the authorized record of the Council. Bonar’s comments may have been taken to heart, as the CCC was reorganized after the first year. Despite her frustration, Bonar kept trying to make things better, and continued to serve on CCC subcommittees from 1976-1977.

It’s incredible how collections can inform one another.  Though not always so revealing, there are connections to be found among many of the Boston-centric collections held in the Burns Archives. This spring we’ll be presenting an exhibit on interconnectedness in these collections. Be sure to check it out when you make an appointment with the Burns Library Reading Room to examine the Bonar-Wolfe papers, now open for research!

  •  Alexandra Bisio, Archives Assistant, Archives &  Manuscripts, John J. Burns Library

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.
This entry was posted in Archives & Manuscripts, Archives Diary, Featured Collections & Books, Staff Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s