Author Archives: John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections at Boston College

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.

Wilfrid and Alice Meynell: The Couple at the Heart of Great Britain’s Catholic Revival

Wilfrid Meynell was born into a Quaker family in 1852 (he would live until 1948!) and converted to Catholicism at age eighteen. Although Meynell first considered a career in chemistry, he had a great interest in literary endeavors which he … Continue reading

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Do We Really Care?: Early student activism in the 1960s

Have Boston College students truly been men and women for others? Despite the physical changes, the university’s purpose and message have largely remained constant. Beginning in the 1840s, those who envisioned Boston College wanted to improve the lives of Irish … Continue reading

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Voodoo Works in the Williams Collection

In the wake of the racially fueled Civil War, a distinct interest in the cultures of the formerly enslaved peoples came to the fore of American interest. As the boundaries of race relations began to shift, a general lack of … Continue reading

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Why Boston College Got Ugly: Explaining postwar construction

For more than four decades, the Chestnut Hill grounds of Boston College remained an astoundingly beautiful, Gothic-inspired campus. Critics noted Gasson Hall’s national influence among Gothic revivalism at universities, and, in 1926, Devlin Hall was recognized as “the most beautiful … Continue reading

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A Living Memorial: Students react to President Kennedy’s assassination

The music cut off abruptly in the dining hall. Students and faculty crowded around radios to hear the reports from Dallas. In Bapst Library’s auditorium, President Michael Walsh, S.J., led the campus in the rosary. He announced the news before … Continue reading

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William Morris and the Kelmscott Press

“The question…is this, whether we are to have books which are beautiful as books; books in which type, paper, woodcuts, and the due arrangement of all these are to be considered, and which are so treated as to produce a … Continue reading

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“A Rededication to the Sacred Things we Call the Humanities.”: The Success of the First Five Years of Father Sweeney’s Humanities Series

When critically acclaimed poet T.S. Eliot left his second lecture at Boston College, he declared, “I want to be invited back. Even when I am unable to go elsewhere, I shall return to Boston College.” And invited back he was, … Continue reading

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