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James H. Dolan, SJ papers

Collection BC-2001-103: James H. Dolan, SJ papers


  • Creation: 1907 - 1972

Scope and Contents

The James H. Dolan, SJ papers contain a journal, correspondence, legal and religious documents, clippings, ephemera, and photographs documenting his religious and personal life. The materials primarily relate to Dolan's life as a Jesuit. Of note are a journal of poetry containing some original compositions, assembled by Dolan while teaching at Georgetown University, and photographs reflecting life at Boston College in the late 1920s. In addition, there are preliminary building planning project documents for three Jesuit institutions.


Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research, with the exception of estate documents containing financial information, which are closed until 2037.

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

James H. Dolan was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts on June 4, 1885. He graduated from Boston College High School and attended Boston College for one year before entering the Society of Jesus in 1905. He studied philosophy at Woodstock College, taught for five years at Georgetown University, and then returned to Woodstock to study theology in 1917. He lectured on psychology and English at Holy Cross College from 1922 until his appointment to the Boston College presidency in 1925.

During Dolan's tenure as president, Boston College underwent significant physical and academic development. Dolan's administration managed to obtain funds to resume and complete the construction of Bapst Library and to implement an addition to St. Mary's Hall. In October of 1926, Dolan was the first president to officially run what was termed the "Graduate School" of Boston College. The "Graduate School" was open to both male and female students and held afternoon and evening classes at Boston College High School. Dolan also inaugurated the Law School on September 26, 1929. Simultaneously, an Extension School was established at the Law School location in an effort to provide educational opportunities for those wishing to enter the school who did not have the necessary requirements for admission. Students completed the course of studies in three years and earned an A.B. degree.

At the end of his tenure as president of Boston College, Dolan received his doctorate in Theology from the Gregorian University in Rome. After leaving Boston College, he was appointed the Socius to the Provincial of the New England Province from 1932-1937. Simultaneously he was the Province Prefect of Studies until 1935. In 1937 he became the Provincial of the New England Province, where he served until his appointment as president of Fairfield University in Connecticut in 1944. After leaving Fairfield University in 1951, Dolan returned to Boston College as a professor of philosophy. Due to ill health, Dolan left Boston College for the third time in 1972 and moved to the Campion Center in Weston, Massachusetts where he remained until his death on August 1, 1977. Dolan served the Society of Jesus for seventy-two years, twenty-seven of which he spent with the Boston College community as a student, administrator, professor, and priest.


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


0.5 Linear Feet (1 container)

Language of Materials



The papers contain a journal, correspondence, legal and religious documents, clippings, ephemera, and photographs documenting the life of twentieth-century professor, Boston College president, and Jesuit James H. Dolan, SJ. Of note are photographs reflecting life at Boston College in the late 1920s and preliminary architectural planning documents for three Jesuit institutions.


Arranged into seven series: I. Architectural planning; II. Correspondence, III. Ephemera; IV. Estate materials and vital documents; V. Photographs; VI. Religious documents; VII. "Talks with the Muse" journal.


Gift of Paul Nelligan, SJ, New England Provincial Archives, 2001.

Processing Information

Loose items found in the journal were moved to a separate folder during processing.

James H. Dolan, SJ Papers
Edward Copenhagen, 2001; revised by AnneMaries Anderson, 2010; Rachel Ernst and Ray Hartley
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