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

Located in the original Bapst Library building on Boston College's Chestnut Hill campus, the John J. Burns Library offers students, scholars, and the general public opportunities to engage with rare books, special collections, and archives.

Meaningful symbols from a new Burns class format

In early October, Burns Library hosted our first hybrid class, Prof. Lisa Kessler’s Introduction to Digital Art, which normally meets synchronously online. Some local students volunteered to come in person and work with original format materials, and we paired them … Continue reading

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A Tale of Two Irish Harps: John Egan fine-tunes the national instrument

This week’s blog post is guest written by Boston-based harpist and harp historian Nancy Hurrell, author of The Egan Irish Harps: Tradition, Patrons and Players (Four Courts Press, 2019). The Boston College Libraries helped support the volume’s publication through the … Continue reading

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Illustration of a Political Campaign: Loyal National Repeal Association of Ireland scrapbook

The Loyal National Repeal Association was founded in 1841 by Irish politician Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847), the leader of the movement for the repeal of the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland. O’Connell fostered mass participation in the association … Continue reading

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Streaming Audio: Joe Lamont Irish Music Recordings, reel 9, side 1

Audio in reel 9, side 1 includes Paddy O’Sullivan (Baltygarron) on fiddle and the Paddy Killoran Club of New York City. Continue reading

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Cable Code: Technological Shorthand from Another Era

Special Collections in many ways is a history of written technology. Browsing our collections is a tour through communication innovations– from vellum manuscripts to the invention of the printing press to the beginning of machine-press paper and the start of … Continue reading

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Designing Exhibits: Behind the scenes of the Burns Bestiary

To mark the launch of our newest online exhibit, the Burns Bestiary, I’m taking you behind the scenes for a look at what it takes to create the graphic design for this –and all our other exhibits– both online and … Continue reading

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Mysteries in the Stacks; or, The Allan P. Kirby Jr. Collection

Dime novels were hastily written, formulaic and sensational stories marketed to teenage boys. Examples of the genre held in Burns Library are the related “nickel weeklies.” Popular subjects include detectives, pirates, inventors, and heroes of American history. Publishers employed an … Continue reading

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Streaming Audio: Joe Lamont Irish Music Recordings, Reel 6, Side 2

Audio in reel 6, side 2 includes James Morrison, Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band, Tom Cawley, Paddy Killoran, John McKenna, Michael Gaffney, Pat Gaffney, Brian O’Donnell, Mike Flynn, Andy Conroy, and others. Continue reading

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Beautiful Historic Wooden Book Covers in Burns Library

In the course of my job at John J. Burns Library, I often find amazing archival materials by chance while working on conservation projects. The jeweled binding of a Bulgarian manuscript held at Burns Library is one such serendipitous find. … Continue reading

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Navigating Maps at Burns Library

Maps can tell us as much about the people who made them as the places they depict. Like all texts and images, maps serve the agendas of their creators, implicitly or avowedly. Consider this map produced around 1920, during the … Continue reading

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