New Year’s Gift


From Pictures From Memory: A New Year’s Gift of the Warren Street Chapel, BV4571 .P53 1846 Boston Folders, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

In the New Year of 1846, the children of Boston were given a New Year’s present: “Pictures from Memory’s  Gallery”.  An anonymous, eloquent author, in a pamphlet entitled Pictures from Memory: A New Year’s Gift from the Warren Street Chapel, 1846, describes six beautiful images and the stories behind those images.  He teaches the children to remember these pictures, so that they can enjoy them anytime, anywhere because they have been hung in the gallery of their memory.

The Warren Street Chapel was established in 1835 to help serve the poor children of Boston by providing Sunday Schools, libraries, and classes in Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Sewing.  It was a part of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Ministry-at-Large, founded by Joseph Tuckerman, which organized the many churches in Boston to serve the poor and their various needs.

The pamphlet is very unassuming, only 6 inches tall and 18 pages long.  And although it describes several beautiful pictures, it has only one illustration on the title page.  However, the historian will appreciate the description of a “camera obscura”, an early camera, and any Bostonian will smile at the reference to Boston’s Bay Back when it actually was a bay and a place to skate in the winter.  But the greatest beauty of this book lies in its powerful descriptions and ability to draw on the readers’ imagination.

But I do not want to talk at you; I want you to experience this little treasure for yourself.  Below is a gallery of the book; if you click on one of the images, you can read through the whole book.  I hope you enjoy this memory gallery at the beginning of another New Year, 150 years after this little book was penned.

  • Lydia Murdy, Special Collections Cataloging Assistant, 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.
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