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John A. Tobin, SJ papers

Collection BC-2004-123: John A. Tobin, SJ papers


  • Creation: 1911 - 1965

Scope and Contents

This collection documents the life and academic career of physicist John A. Tobin, SJ. The papers contain correspondence, writings, academic and administrative materials, articles, ephemera, and photographs. Of note are materials related to the curriculum, governance, and history of the Boston College Physics Department; Tobin's courses (including descriptions, syllabi, and notes); abstracts and status reports on experiments and writings on the relationship between education, physics, the spiritual life, and Catholicism. The collection also includes articles by Tobin and others on atomic and nuclear physics, color, physics education, historical sketches of the department, and departmental meeting agendas.

In addition, there are items related to the Civilian Pilot Training Program: correspondence, class lists from 1940-1943, a diagram of Norwood Memorial Airport, and a description of the program. Tobin's personal material includes correspondence, biographical articles, and materials regarding the Boston College High School class of 1911. It also includes certificates and other ephemera related to Tobin’s academic work and religious life. The collection also consists of photographs of Tobin as well as images of him with his classmates, teaching colleagues, students, and members of his family.


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 A. Tobin, SJ was born on June 19, 1894, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Cornelius Patrick and Mary Ellen (Keenan) Tobin. Tobin spent one year at the Mechanics Arts High School before transferring to Boston College High School. After graduating from Boston College High School in 1911, Tobin entered the Society of Jesus at the St. Andrew-on-Hudson Novitiate in Poughkeepsie, New York. Tobin was ordained on June 28, 1925. He earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts degrees from Woodstock College in 1917 and 1918 respectively. He studied theology at Woodstock College from 1922 to 1926, and earned a PhD from Gregorian University in Rome in 1931.

Tobin first taught physics in the Student Army Training Course at Boston College from 1918 to 1922. From 1926 to 1928, Tobin served as Chairman and Professor of Physics at Fordham University. He returned to Boston College in 1929, where he taught in the Physics Department until 1954. He served as Chair of the Physics Department and taught courses on modern physics, nuclear physics, and physics and philosophy. Tobin also established the Bachelor of Science and the Master of Science degrees in physics. During this period, Tobin also coordinated the Civilian Pilot Training Program, served as Army Faculty Advisor, and assisted the Civil Defense Program. From 1954 until his death in 1965, Tobin served as a Student Counselor at the Boston College Law School and taught theology at the Nursing School.

Throughout his career as a physicist, Tobin remained active in his academic discipline. He authored Laboratory Experiments in Physics in 1932. In addition, Tobin was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the American Physical Society, the New York Academy of Sciences, and Sigma Pi Sigma.

John A. Tobin, SJ died on January 25, 1965, at the age of 70.


Articles about John A. Tobin, box 4, folder 32, John A. Tobin, SJ papers, BC.2004.123, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Department faculty and student facts, box 1, folder 21, John A. Tobin, SJ papers, BC.2004.123, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.


3 Linear Feet (5 containers)

Language of Materials



The papers document the life and academic career of twentieth-century Jesuit physicist John A. Tobin, SJ. It contains correspondence, writings, notes, articles, meeting minutes, administrative files, and photographs. Included are materials related to the Boston College Physics Department, Tobin's work with the Civilian Pilot Training Program, materials related to his teaching and academic pursuits, and some personal materials.


Arranged into five series: I. Boston College Department of Physics administration; II. Civilian Pilot Training Program; III. Teaching; IV. Scholarship and professional service; and V. Personal.


The source of this collection is unknown, and 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. The photograph album was donated by Eunice Twitchell in 2017.

John A. Tobin, SJ Papers
Sarah K. Nytroe; updated by AnneMarie Anderson, 2010; revised by Ray Hartley 2018; revised by Elizabeth Peters, 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2022-09-12: Made subseries into full series. Moved some files between series after item-level review. Added accrual.

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