Boston College alumni papers
- 1866 - 2008
Scope and Contents
This collection documents the student experience at Boston College through materials collected and created by its alumni. Materials include autograph books, correspondence, course notebooks, drawings, ephemera, interviews, medals, needlepoint, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, speeches, student papers, photographs, and poems. Of particular note are academic achievement award medals from the 1860s to the 1910s, given by Boston College for top overall performance in class and as well as top performance in a given field of study. Also included are a limited number of works written by alumni after graduating from Boston College. Small, individual donations of alumni papers are grouped here for ease of discovery because they document a shared experience.
Restrictions on access
Collection is open for research; some items available digitally.
Restrictions on use
These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.
In 1863, a charter from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts authorized five Jesuits of Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus to incorporate as “the Trustees of the Boston College.” Their South End school became the first chartered college to operate in Boston in September 1864, when twenty-two boys – with an average age of fourteen – enrolled and classes began. Enrollment was limited to boys but open to those of any religious background. The original grounds were cramped, consisting only of a brick classroom building, a brick Jesuit residence, and the white-granite Church of the Immaculate Conception.
Boston College’s “chief aim,” an early advertisement explained, was “to educate the pupils in the principles and practice of the Catholic faith.” The curriculum was similar to what the Jesuits had used around the globe for two centuries: a seven-year program dedicated to the liberal arts. Outside the classroom, students attended Masses and confessions and formed religious sodalities. They also established debating clubs, staged theatrical productions, and organized sports teams. The confined South End campus posed challenges, especially as enrollment swelled to nearly 500 at the close of the nineteenth century when Jesuit administrators agreed to separate the high school and the college as two, distinctive four-year programs.
In 1907, a college president purchased a thirty-six-acre farm located six miles west in Newton’s Chestnut Hill neighborhood for Boston College’s new campus. The Recitation Building opened in March 1913, followed by a football field (1915), the Jesuit residence St. Mary’s Hall (1916), and the Science Building (1924). Work on the Library Building paused due to a lack of funding, only completed in 1928, and no additional construction in Chestnut Hill occurred in the following two decades. Meanwhile, Boston College reestablished a downtown presence, renting space for new professional schools of law (1929), social work (1936) and business (1938), along with its Intown College that offered continuing education to men and women.
The end of the Second World War sparked renewed activity at Boston College. Hundreds of GI-Bill-funded students helped boost total enrollment from 236 students to more than 6,000 by September 1946. Administrators established the undergraduate and coeducational schools of nursing (1947) and education (1952). It was 1970 that women could enroll in the arts and sciences program, with the business school following suit the next year. Construction on the Chestnut Hill campus also resumed after the war, with buildings added for business, arts and sciences, law, and education between 1948 and 1955. The addition of the first dormitories (1951) on an estate donated by the local cardinal began the transformation towards a predominately residential institution. An adjacent reservoir, then no longer in use, was secured and slowly filled-in to provide land needed for a new football facility (1957) and other sporting complexes as well as several dormitories, a theater, and community space. A new library was opened in 1984.
The college’s board of trustees was reconstituted in December 1972, replacing the five-member, all-Jesuit board with one of thirty-five members: thirteen Jesuits and twenty-two laymen and women. Boston College was also separately incorporated from the local Jesuit community. Two years later, the university merged with the Newton College of the Sacred Heart, a nearby, all-girls boarding school, and acquired its forty-acre property, facilities, and debts. In 2004, Boston College began the process to acquire a sixty-five-acre property in Brighton, once home to the Archdiocese of Boston, to use for a theology school (2008), a museum (2016), administrative offices, and an athletic complex. Subsequent acquisitions have included a Hammond Pond Parkway site (2016) and the Pine Manor College campus (2020), the latter the future home of educational opportunities for underrepresented and first-generation students.
In 2013, Boston College marked its sesquicentennial with 14,400 students enrolled in eight academic divisions, 3,600 full-time faculty and staff, some 147 buildings across 338 acres, an operating budget of $900 million, and an endowment of more than $2 billion.
Birnbaum, Ben, and Seth Meehan. The Heights: An Illustrated History of Boston College, 1863–2013. Chestnut Hill, Mass.: Linden Lane Press, 2014.
Dunigan, David R. A History of Boston College. Milwaukee: Bruce Pub. Co., 1947.
O’Toole, James M. Ever to Excel: A History of Boston College. Chestnut Hill, Mass.: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2022.
33.5 Linear Feet (32 containers)
Language of Materials
This collection documents the student experience at Boston College through materials collected and created by its alumni. Materials include autograph books, correspondence, course notebooks, drawings, ephemera, interviews, medals, needlepoint, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, speeches, student papers, photographs, and poems. Small, individual donations of alumni papers are grouped here for ease of discovery because they document a shared experience.
Arranged in two series. I. Boston College experience; and II. Alumni later works. Within series materials are grouped chronologically by graduation year, then alphabetically by alumni last name.
Material acquired through individual alumni donations over time.
Existence of digital copies
Items from this collection are available digitally. Links are included in the inventory.
Classes have not been assigned subseries identifiers as the collection is intended to accrue over time, changing the classes included.
Students who attended BC but are not listed as graduates in the alumni directories have been added to their intended graduation year as best as could be determined, in order to keep materials from similar eras together. This has necessitated some "about" or "probably" class years in the list.
One accession of Alumni Office records (BC.1991.036) had been interfiled over the years with later accessions of alumni papers. The alumni papers were removed from the office records to the best of the archivist's determination at the time of processing based on the oldest available box list for the office records. Some slight admixture may still remain.
- Boston College. Office of the University Historian (Organization)
- Sweeney, John C. (Person)
- Sweeney, Francis, 1916-2002 (Person)
- Thibodeau, Philippe (Person)
- Triggs, Patricia (Person)
- Walsh, James F. (Person)
- Sullivan, James L. (Person)
- Sullivan, Henry A. (Person)
- Short, Kelly (Person)
- Dolan, Maureen (Person)
- Shea, Leo C. (Person)
- Shannon, James W. (Person)
- Ring, John D. (Person)
- Richardson, Richard J. (Person)
- Kellaher, James A. (Person)
- Regan, David F. (Person)
- Quirk, John (Person)
- O'Brien, Florence J. (Person)
- Cadley, Alice K. Nicholson (Person)
- Mulroy, James Thomas (Person)
- Mullen, Christopher (Person)
- Marden, Henry H. (Person)
- Maley, Francis W. (Person)
- Maloney, Frederick R. (Person)
- Lui, Elizabeth Gill (Person)
- Lambert, Jack, Jr. (Person)
- Incoviella, Phyllis (Person)
- Brinnan, Timothy J. (Person)
- Tierney, Thomas K. (Person)
- Morrissey, Leo J. , Jr. (Person)
- Church, Samuel T., (Person)
- Kearney, John J. (Person)
- Knipper, David (Person)
- Gillis, Eileen F. (Person)
- Scott, Nicholas (Person)
- Gormley, Henry (Person)
- Boston College Alumni Papers
- Ayoola White and Holly Springer, 2017. Revised by Elizabeth Peters and Molly Aleshire, 2023.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- 2023 January: Added accruals.
Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository
John J. Burns Library
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States