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Katherine E. Conway papers

Collection MS-1994-015: Katherine E. Conway papers


  • Creation: 1874 - 1964
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1874 - 1926

Scope and Contents

This collection documents the literary and personal life of author Katherine E. Conway. Materials include diaries; drafts of her poetry and journalism; photographs; and scrapbooks.


Language of Materials

In English.

Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research.

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.

Biographical note

Journalist and poet Katherine E. Conway was born of Irish parents in Rochester, New York on September 6, 1852. She studied with the Sisters of Charity and the nuns of the Sacred Heart in Rochester, and completed her primary education at St. Mary's Academy (now Nardin Academy) in Buffalo, New York. Upon graduating, Conway worked for several years as a reporter for the Rochester Daily Union and was a correspondent for several New York papers. It was during this period that Bishop McQuaid took notice of her, opening up his library to her and encouraging her authorial endeavors.

Family financial difficulties encouraged Conway to pursue an editorial career. From 1873-1878 Conway worked on the West End Journal. In 1878 she became assistant editor on the Catholic Union and Times in Buffalo. In 1883 John Boyle O'Reilly recognized the quality of her work and offered her a position as assistant editor for The Pilot of Boston, an independent lay-owned Catholic weekly. She succeeded James Jeffery Roche as managing editor in 1904, the first female to hold the position. When The Pilot became the official church organ for the Archdiocese of Boston in 1908, Conway moved on to become managing editor of The Republic, another Boston paper.

Conway simultaneously pursued a literary career as an author of poetry, fiction, and Catholic history. Her written works include poetry collections, On the Sunrise Slope (1881), A Dream of Lilies (1893), and The Color of Life (1927); non-fiction works, Watchwords from John Boyle O'Reilly, with Literary Estimate (1891), The Golden Years of the Good Shepherd in Boston (1892); In the Footprints of the Good Shepherd (1907); Fifty Years with Christ, the Good Shepherd (1925); and novels, The Way of the World and Other Ways (1900) and Lalor's Maples (1901). She also served as an adjunct professor of English at St. Mary's College at Notre Dame, Indiana, from 1911-1915.

Conway was an active public speaker and a protofeminist who fought for "women's traditional dignity in modern life." She was a leader in literary and Catholic circles around Boston, helping to found the League of Catholic Women. She also served as a member of the executive council of the New England Women's Press Club and as chairperson of its literary committee. She was the first Catholic woman to address the primarily Protestant Women's Educational and Industrial Union of Boston. Among her notable public addresses were: "The Blessed Among Women" and "Some Christian Ideas," presented originally in the Women's Educational and Industrial Union of Boston, and "The Ideals of Christian Womanhood," written for the Boston Catholic Union.

In 1912, Conway was awarded the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice by Pope Pius X and in 1917, she was presented the Laetare Medal by Notre Dame University. She died on January 2, 1927.


Cullen, James B., ed. The Story of the Irish in Boston. Boston: James B. Cullen & Company, 1889.

Delaney, John J. Dictionary of American Catholic Biography. New York: Doubleday, 1984.

Golden, Agnes G. "A Boston Literaray Woman," The Rosary Magazine, Vol. 19. Somerset, Ohio: 1901 July-December. p.45-48. (

"People in Print." Donohoe's Magazine. Boston: Donohoe Magazine Company, January 1897.

Ryan, George E. "The Author," The Pilot. Boston: 1961 August 5.

"Hold Funeral of Catholic Writer,"The Pilot. Boston: 1927 January 8.


3.75 Linear Feet (6 containers)


This collection documents the literary and personal life of author Katherine E. Conway. Materials include diaries; drafts of her poetry and journalism; photographs; and scrapbooks.


Arranged into five series. I: Diaries; II: Photographs and small paintings; III: Scrapbooks; IV: Poetry and commonplace books; V: Manuscripts and articles.


Acquired from Helene Conway in 1994.


Katherine E. Conway Papers
1874-1964 (bulk 1874-1926)
Monica Brown and Ayoola White (2016)
Language of description
Script of description

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