Skip to main content

Charles W. Lyons, SJ, President's Office records

Collection BC-2000-178: Charles W. Lyons, SJ, President's Office records


  • Creation: 1914 - 1979
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1914 - 1919

Scope and Contents

The President's office records of Charles W. Lyons, SJ, are composed of correspondence, memos, and writings documenting the fourteenth president's work. The bulk of the collection dates from 1914 to 1919, the dates of Lyons's presidency.

Correspondents include Father Provincial Joseph Zwinge; lawyer Edward A. McLaughlin; and the New York State Department of Education, which approved the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Sciences, and Bachelor of Philosophy degrees. Several folders contain correspondence related to the construction of St. Mary's Hall, primarily from architecture firm Maginnis & Walsh. One letter by Sister Mary Edmond from 1979 contains remembrances of Boston College High School and Lyons.

The student military training records are split into two groups: the Student Army Training Corps (SATC) operated during wartime, while the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps was established after the 1918 armistice. Materials in both subseries consist of memos, forms, training manuals, course and class lists, and other related material. Also included are pages of student publication Stylus, which contain published photographs. Many of the memos in these subseries were sent to or from the United States War Department, a precursor to the Department of the Army. The writings series is made up of an article about "home night," a precursor to homecoming, two printed copies of a Fourth of July oration by Lyons, and a typescript of his obituary, written in Latin.


Language of Materials

Materials in this collection are primarily in English, with some Latin.

Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research; portions 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.

Biographical note

Charles W. Lyons, SJ, the fourteenth president of Boston College, was born on January 31, 1868, in Boston. He attended public schools in Boston, including English High School, and entered the Society of Jesus in August 1890. Lyons taught at a number of institutions before and after his ordination in 1904, including Gonzaga College, Georgetown University, and Loyola College in Maryland. After ordination, Lyons acted as the Prefect of Discipline at Georgetown University for a year. He then completed his tertianship at St. Andrew-on-Hudson, NY, and went to teach metaphysics and political economy at St. Francis Xavier College in New York City. In 1907, he taught psychology and political economy at Boston College and was the faculty moderator of the Fulton Debating Society. Lyons spent a brief time in 1909 as the president of Gonzaga College in Washington DC, followed by five years as president of St. Joseph's College in Philadelphia before becoming Boston College president in January 1914. Lyons was the last president to serve as Father Rector to both Boston College and Boston College High School.

Lyons's presidency was notable for his oversight of continued construction on the Chestnut Hill campus, started by his predecessor Thomas Ignatius Gasson, and also for his leadership of the College during World War I. From October 1916 to 1918, Boston College's enrollment dropped eighty-one percent due to conscription and voluntary enlistment. Boston College became home to a Students' Army Training Corps (SATC), one of five hundred sixty-five institutions selected to train men to become officers, engineers, scientists, and administrators in the United States Army. With the dissolution of SATC programs, the government reinstituted the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) that had been suspended during the war. Boston College was granted a ROTC unit, in which on hundred thirty-seven students enrolled.

Lyons left Boston College in July 1919, though he returned in 1922 to teach metaphysics for two years before becoming president of Georgetown University. Lyons moved back to Boston once more in 1928 and joined the Mission band for eight years before retiring to Weston College in 1936. Lyons died on January 31, 1939, on his seventy-first birthday.


Dunigan, David R. A History of Boston College. Milwaukee, WI: Bruce Publishing Co., 1947.

"Obituary: Father Charles W. Lyons, 1868-1939." Woodstock Letters 68 (1939): 346-354. Accessed April 3, 2020,


.25 Linear Feet (1 container)


The President's office records of Charles W. Lyons, SJ, fourteenth president of Boston College, are composed of correspondence, memos, and writings that reflect his five year presidency as well as the wartime and post-World War I student military groups on campus during that period.


The records are arranged in three series: I. Correspondence; II. Student military training; III. Writings. All series are arranged in alphabetical order. Series II. Student military training is divided into two subseries: A. Student Army Training Corps (SATC); B. Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC).


Because the current accessioning system was not used until January 1986, it is not possible to know exactly the dates of acquisition of materials received before that time. In 1993, the Archives of the New England Province donated material by Charles W. Lyons. Paul Nelligan, SJ, donated Lyons's correspondence with Edward A McLaughlin in 1998.

Existence of Digital Copies

Portions of this collection are available digitally. Links are included in the inventory.

Related Materials

President's Office Records, University Archives, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Charles W. Lyons, SJ, President's Office Records
1914-1979 (bulk 1914-1919)
unknown; revised by Stephanie Bennett
June 2013
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