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.

T. S. Eliot’s Ariel Poems

Another blog post from a couple of weeks ago gave you an overview of the Ariel Poems, a series of pamphlets published by Faber & Gwyer (now Faber & Faber) in the 1920s and 30s.  A second series was also published in 1954. … Continue reading

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The Fairy Sisters Ephemera

In the middle of the nineteenth century, Americans of all ages flocked to exhibits of people with physical abnormalities, more commonly called “freak shows.”  P.T. Barnum, of Barnum and Bailey Circus fame, played a major role in popularizing freak shows, … Continue reading

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Ariel Poems

In 1927, publishing house Faber & Gwyer (later Faber & Faber) published a series titled The Ariel Poems—a run of small, illustrated pamphlets that combined a poem with an artist’s illustrations. T. S. Eliot, one of the contributing poets, borrowed … Continue reading

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Johnson’s Quest to Define a Language

Dictionaries can tell a lot about the history of English and its usage, especially the first truly comprehensive English dictionary, A Dictionary of the English Language, by Samuel Johnson. First published in 1755, Johnson’s dictionary was the foremost English dictionary … Continue reading

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20th Century Propaganda from the Woodruff Collection

Collections tell stories about their former owners. (John) Douglas Woodruff’s personal collection, acquired from his estate many years ago, uncovers his interest in communist and fascist era propaganda. Born in 1897, Woodruff was known for his erudition and wit. After … Continue reading

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Reframing the Present: The Renaissance Architecture of Andrea Palladio

In 1452, the Italian polymath Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472) completed his De re aedificatoria, the first theoretical treatment of architecture since Vitruvius wrote his De architectura in 15 BC. This classical text served as the main inspiration for Alberti’s treatise, … Continue reading

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One Story Draws Another: Irish American History in Boston

  These selections from the Irish American manuscript collections at the Burns Library are loosely bound together by common threads of shared affiliation with the University and with the City of Boston – its business and its politics. To each of us working on … Continue reading

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