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Thomas J. Carroll papers

Collection MS-2003-014: Thomas J. Carroll papers


  • Creation: 1938-1971 (bulk 1943-1959)
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1943 - 1959

Scope and Content Note

The Reverend Thomas J. Carroll Papers pertain to the life and work of Reverend Thomas J. Carroll. The bulk of the materials are from the 1940s and 1950s. The collection consists primarily of the incoming and outgoing correspondence of Father Carroll. Many of the letters discuss aspects of the liturgical weeks, the liturgical movement, and work with the blind. The collection also includes letters and photographs from Reverend Dekan George Nilges of Frankfurt, Germany. The materials from Nilges relate to the general condition of Frankfurt, Germany, including the city's religious life after World War II.


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

Reverend Thomas J. Carroll was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, on 1909 August 6. He graduated from Gloucester High School in 1928 and went on to study Greek, Latin, and Philosophy at The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. After graduation in 1932, Carroll decided to become a Roman Catholic priest. He studied at St. John's Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts and was ordained in 1938.

Carroll's first assignment in the Boston archdiocese was as Assistant Director of the Catholic Guild for the Blind. Remaining assistant director of the guild, he also served as an auxiliary chaplain at Avon Old Farms Convalescent Hospital in Connecticut and at the Valley Forge General Hospital in Pennsylvania from 1944 to 1949. In 1947, he became Director of the Catholic Guild for the Blind.

As director of the guild, Carroll initiated several programs to improve services for the blind. One of Carroll's concerns was that of safety. Having worked with Dr. Richard Hoover, the developer of the long cane, Carroll brought the idea of using a "safe traveling" long cane to the Guild in 1952 and in 1954, he established St. Paul's Rehabilitation Center for the Blind. In 1961, he published his book, Blindness: What it is, What it Does, and How to Live with It. In 1963, he founded the American Center for Research and Blindness and in 1965 he established St. Raphael's Geriatric Adjustment Center. St. Raphael's and St. Paul's merged in 1973 due to lack of funding. Carroll served as a member of the National Advisory of Neurological Diseases and Blindness Council from 1964 to 1971 and as a member of the Department of Health Education, Welfare, and National Advisory Council on Vocational Rehabilitation from 1959 to 1963. Carroll received many awards for his work with the blind. He also wrote several articles about blindness, contributing especially to the periodical Listen.

In addition to his responsibilities as Director of the Catholic Guild for the Blind, Carroll was very active within the Archdiocese of Boston and the National Liturgical Conference. Carroll was also a member of the board of directors for the Sacramental Apostolate of the Archdiocese of Boston from 1947 to 1965, and a delegate of the International Congress on Pastoral Liturgy in 1956.

The Reverend Thomas J. Carroll died suddenly on 1971 April 24. The Catholic Guild for the Blind was renamed The Carroll Rehabilitation Center for the Visually Impaired in Carroll's honor in 1972.

Sources: The Carroll Center for the Blind []. March2004.Carroll, Thomas J. Blindness: WhatIt Is, What It Does, and How to Live with It. Boston: Little, Brown& Company, 1961. The New York Times Obituaries. Special to the New York Times. New York, N.Y.: Apr25, 1971. p. 71. Muldoon, John F., ed. Essays onBlindness Rehabilitation in honor of Thomas J. Carroll: afestschrift. New York: American Foundation for the Blind, c.1990.


.75 Linear Feet (3 containers)

Language of Materials



The collection documents the life and work of Reverend Thomas J Carroll. It includes correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, postcards, and published works.

Series Description

The collection is arranged by into five series:

Missing Title

  1. Series I. Correspondence, 1940-1965
  2. Series II. Manuscripts, 1953-1971
  3. Series III. Published Works, 1949-1971
  4. Series IV. Certificate, undated
  5. Series V. Photographs and Postcards, 1940-1957

Series I. Correspondence: The Correspondence series is the largest series of the collection. It consists of Carroll's professional and personal correspondence, the bulk of which relates to his work at the Catholic Guild for the Blind and the National Liturgical Conference. The records in this series contain letters and telegrams sent and received by Carroll, who corresponded with religious women, fellow clergymen, and seminarians. The folders are arranged alphabetically by the correspondent's last name. Notable correspondents include Reverend Robert Carolyn, Seminarians, and Reverend George Nilges. The contents of the folder "Seminarians" are arranged alphabetically by last name.

Series II. Manuscripts: Manuscripts includes a miscellaneous collection of works dealing with the Catholic Church and the military. It is divided into two sub-series: Writings by the Carroll and Writings by Others. Subseries A. The Writings by Reverend Carroll consists of four public addresses and a manuscript entitled, "How Christian Worship Works." It is arranged chronologically. Subseries B. Writings by Others consists of four unpublished manuscripts, including three written by women. This series is arranged alphabetically by author.

Series III. Published Works: The Published Works series consists of five folders, containing two publications by Reverend William Busch, one publication by Sr. M. Francille, C.S.J., a copy of the publication Listen, and a publication by S. Mary Mark, I.H.M. The series is arranged alphabetically by author or title.

Series IV. Certificate: This series includes one certificate of testament given in memory of Annie J. Halloran by the Reverend Carroll as president of the Catholic Guild for the Blind.

Series V. Photographs and Postcards: Most of the photographs and postcards were originally located in the correspondence folder and were from Reverend George Nilges of Germany. One postcard pictures the cathedral and ancient city of Frankfurt before their destruction in WWII. Many of the pictures and postcards are labeled and written on in English, Latin, and German. These photos may be of interest to those studying post-WWII Catholicism in Germany and those interested in looking at pre-Vatican II priestly garb.


Obtained from William J. Leonard, SJ.

Thomas J. Carroll Papers
1938-1971 (bulk 1943-1959)
Beth Ann Raymond and Kelli Bogan
Fall 2006
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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