Category Archives: Rare books

Learning Mildred: Provenance and Inclusion Materials

One of the more interesting aspects of my job as a cataloger is that I manage and maintain the inclusion files for Burns Library. The inclusion files are just what they sound like: four filing cabinets, stuffed to the brim … Continue reading

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Reconsidering Witchcraft This Halloween

The leaves are changing, the air finally has that crisp New England bite, and Halloween is finally upon us here at Boston College. Even just being in Burns Library makes me feel like I am at Hogwarts with our Gothic … Continue reading

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Puzzling Out Ownership

Most of the books at Burns Library have passed through the hands of many owners before arriving on our shelves. Discerning a book’s sequence of owners, or provenance, is fascinating, and the inevitable comparisons to puzzles and mystery solving are … Continue reading

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The Personalized Library: Links Between People and Books

It’s a near universal rule that you should never write in any library book. However, you can nevertheless find notes in many of our books, remnants of their pasts before being acquired by Burns Library. These marks provide hints about … Continue reading

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DC One Million

In 1998, as many long running DC Comics such as Action Comics and Detective Comics were approaching their 750th issues, the writers at DC speculated what the universe would look like when issue one million was published. This gave birth … Continue reading

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An Early Jack B. Yeats Stenciled “Broad Sheet”

Anyone who has seen one of Jack B. Yeats’s later paintings can easily recognize others. Same for his earlier watercolor work and his pen-and-ink sketches. The distinctiveness of Yeats’s style, along with his characteristic choice of subjects, have made him … 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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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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Virtual Reference, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Local Note

One of the best privileges of being a staff member at a special collections library is free access to stacks closed to researchers. This is particularly helpful if, like me, you are terrible at remembering long Latin titles; I tend … Continue reading

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