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Charitable Irish Society records

Collection MS-1993-012: Charitable Irish Society records


  • Creation: 1781 - 2019
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1880 - 2014

Scope and Contents

The Charitable Irish Society records include correspondence, financial records, meeting minutes and agendas, membership records, subject files, ledgers, printed materials, certificates, ephemera, artifacts, and photographs documenting the membership and activities of the Society. Printed materials include constitutions, programs and fliers for the annual dinners, and pamphlets. Artifacts include medals and ribbons, a large linen banner, a ballot box, and an embosser with the Society seal.


Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research. Materials in Series IX: Financial records are closed for 75 years from date of creation.

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.

Historical Note: Charitable Irish Society

The Charitable Irish Society was founded in Boston in 1737 with two purposes, as set forth in its constitution: "to cultivate a spirit of unity and harmony among the Irish in Massachusetts, advocating the interests and cultural heritage of the Irish people; to alleviate suffering by helping members or other worthy recipients."

The Charitable Irish Society is the oldest Irish organization in North America, and it remains committed to its original mission. During its first century the Society’s membership was mainly Protestant, consisting of the descendants of Ulster Presbyterians. During and after the great famine in Ireland in the 1840’s, many Irish migrated to Boston, most of them Catholics. The Society concentrated its efforts on helping the new arrivals, and gradually its membership and leadership became Catholic.

The Society has continued its original mission while adapting to changing circumstances. Its members now work with the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish Immigration Center, and the Irish Pastoral Center to aid Irish and other people in need. The Society also plays a major role in the “Catch the Spirit – Citizenship” program.

A longer history of the Society, called The Silver Key: A History of the Charitable Irish Society Founded in Boston 1737, was written by Charles T. Burke in 1973.


Charitable Irish Society, "" Last modified 2015. Accessed August 21, 2015.


47 Linear Feet (43 containers)

Language of Materials



The Charitable Irish Society records consist of the professional and historical records of the Charitable Irish Society of Boston. These include administrative files, reports on committees and special projects, constitutions, membership records, anniversary dinner programs, subject files, photographs, artifacts, and financial records.


This collection is arranged in nine series: I. Administrative files; II. Central reference files; III. Constitutions; IV. Membership records; V. Programs; VI. Subject files; VII. Photographs; VIII. Artifacts; IX. Financial records.


Donated by Charitable Irish Society, 1993 and subsequent years.

Related Materials

Charitable Irish Society records, MS. N-1474, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1154 Boylston Street Boston, MA 02215.

  • Membership cards CIS history (1937), poor condition
  • Tax filings, duplicate programs
Charitable Irish Society Records
1781-2019 (bulk 1880-2014)
Matthew Messer; Colleen Taylor; Philip S. Kiley, SJ; Michael Burns; and David Horn, 2015; Elizabeth Peters, 2024
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2024 April: Added accruals.

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States