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John E. Murphy, SJ papers

Collection BC-2005-124: John E. Murphy, SJ papers


  • Creation: 1921-1981, undated

Scope and Contents

The majority of the collection consists of subject files pertaining to Murphy's scholarly interests in Irish literature, history, and culture and contain research materials, teaching notes, lectures, manuscripts, and printed ephemera. The collection also contains a smaller amount of correspondence, sermons, lectures, and newspaper articles by and about Murphy. Noteworthy in Murphy's personal materials is a small collection of cards from Irish fine print presses Dun Emer and Cuala Press, many with holiday messages to him.


Language of Materials

English and Irish.

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

John E. Murphy was born on September 1, 1901, in Newton, Massachusetts, to John and Ellen (Donovan) Murphy. Both of his parents were born in Ireland. He had five siblings, three brothers and two sisters. From 1907 to 1920, Murphy attended Our Lady's Parochial Grammar School and High School in Newton, Massachusetts. After graduating from Our Lady, Murphy attended Boston College for two years before entering the Society of Jesus at Yonkers, New York in 1922. He spent his novitiate at Yonkers (1922-1923) and Shadowbrook, Massachusetts (1923-1926). Murphy received his BA degree in 1925, followed by a MA degree in 1927. He completed his philosophy (1926-1929) and theology (1931-1935) course work at Weston College, where he earned a STL degree in 1935. He was ordained into the priesthood by Bishop Thomas Emmet, SJ at Weston in 1934. Murphy studied in Wales and Ireland from 1935-1939, where he wrote a thesis entitled "The Religious Mind of the Irish Bards," and earned his doctorate degree in Irish Studies from the National University of Ireland.

Murphy's teaching career began at Boston College High School, where he taught classics to high school seniors from 1929 to 1931. After earning his doctorate, Murphy joined the faculty at Boston College and taught in the Gaelic Literature Department in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Boston College Summer School. Murphy taught at Boston College from 1939 to 1970. His research interests included Irish culture, literature, history, and folklore. He published articles including "The Religious Mind of the Irish Bard," "The Tradition of Irish Hospitality," and "The Romance of Irish Manuscripts." In addition, he lectured on women in Ireland, the Book of Kells, Irish religious life, and Ireland's schools. He was a member of the American Irish Historical Society and the Eire Society of Boston.

In 1958, Murphy was appointed to the newly created position of Business Manager of the University, where he administered the purchasing and maintenance departments of Boston College. He retired from Boston College in 1970. Murphy continued to pursue his interests in Irish studies in his post as Visiting Lecturer in Irish Literature at Boston State College from 1970-1974.

Murphy resided at the St. Mary's Jesuit community on the Boston College campus until his death on October 21, 1985.


"Teacher, administrator John Murphy, SJ, dies." Boston College Biweekly. Vol. 6, no. 4. 24 October 1985.


4 Linear Feet (10 containers)


This collection documents the professional and personal life of John E. Murphy, SJ, a twentieth-century Jesuit and professor of Irish Literature at Boston College. The bulk of the papers consists of religious materials and subject files used for his research and lectures. Of note are a small collection of Irish fine print press cards from Dun Emer and Cuala Press.


The collection is arranged into three series: I. Personal materials, II. Religious materials, and III. Subject files.


Gift of Philip Kiley, SJ in 2005.

John E. Murphy, SJ Papers
1921-1981, undated
Sarah K. Nytroe, April 2006; Rachael Young
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