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James H. Dolan, SJ, President's Office records

Collection BC-1986-020C: James H. Dolan, SJ, President's Office records


  • Creation: 1909 - 1958
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1925 - 1932

Scope and Contents

The President's Office records of James H. Dolan, SJ, the sixteenth president of Boston College, contain correspondence, material relating to the construction of two buildings as well as other facilities concerns, administrative records and notes, photographs, artwork, and artifacts documenting both his administration and the College's development from 1925 to the end of his tenure in 1932.

Records regarding the completion of Bapst Library and the addition to St. Mary's, constructed 1930-1931, contain architectural and interior design drawings; specifications for heating, ventilation, plumbing, and wiring work; and paperwork regarding contracts and various contractors' work. The Bapst Library materials also contain reference images for artwork and photographs of completed features in Bapst. The financial documents subseries contain information on a chimes company and the Gargan, McManus, and Taylor estates, which donated money to the university that was applied to building projects.

Correspondence is written in English and Latin, with small amounts in German and French. Most of the letters in Latin are from the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Wlodimir Ledóchowski. Letters are grouped by class or correspondent in the order received and reflect Dolan's pastoral and professional work. A small collection of postage stamps is also included. Office files include materials on academics, faculty, and development, as well as a Graduate Board proposal to start a college hockey team. Ephemera and Provincial reports include several hand-cut silhouettes from a German artist, poetry, Provincial status reports, and other artifacts from or about Boston College and its events.


Language of Materials

Materials in this collection are primarily in English, with some French, German, and 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

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 in Maryland, taught for five years at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., 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 obtained funds to resume and complete the construction of Bapst Library in 1928 and to build 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. Concurrently, 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 Boston College president, 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 in a range of roles: student, administrator, professor, and priest.


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


3.75 Linear Feet (5 containers)


The James H. Dolan, SJ, President's Office Records contain materials regarding the construction and maintenance of Boston College's buildings and grounds as well as correspondence, general administrative files, and various ephemera and artifacts that document the life and work of James H. Dolan, the sixteenth president of Boston College. Included are documents about the construction of Bapst Library, the addition to St. Mary's Hall, the establishment of St. Ignatius Church, and the financial relationship with Boston College High School.


This collection is arranged in four series: I. Buildings and grounds; II. Correspondence; III. General office files; IV. Ephemera and Provincial reports. Buildings and grounds is further divided into four subseries: A. Bapst Library; B. Financial documents; C. Saint Mary's Hall; and D. Other buildings. Series IV. Ephemera and Provincial reports consists of artwork, provincial reports, and school-related artifacts that are neither correspondence nor office files.

The buildings and grounds subseries are arranged alphabetically. Correspondence is arranged in chronological order. Both the general office files and ephemera and Provincial reports series are arranged in alphabetical order.


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. Boston College High School's proposal for financial settlement was donated by Charles F. Donovan, SJ, in 1993. Paul Nelligan, SJ, donated the official correspondence from Rome in 2001. James Woods, SJ, is the source of the Lenten lecture ticket. Copies of the Bapst Library materials from the Walsh Brothers, Inc. and Maginnis & Walsh were made from the Walsh Brothers corporate archives in 2002.

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.

James H. Dolan, SJ, papers, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

James H. Dolan, SJ, President’s Office Records
1909-1958, (bulk 1925-1932)
unknown; revised by AnneMarie Anderson, April 2010; revised by Stephanie Bennett
May 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