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William James McGarry, SJ, President's Office records

Collection BC-2004-007: William James McGarry, SJ, President's Office records


  • Creation: 1922 - 1944
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1937 - 1939

Scope and Contents

The William James McGarry, SJ, President’s Office records contain correspondence, photographs, financial statements, student applications, and booklets documenting the work of William McGarry, SJ, eighteenth president of Boston College from 1937 to 1939. The records reflect the activities of the College of Business and Administration, the Evening School held at the Intown College, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Correspondence files contain letters to Henry Cabot Lodge regarding student aid received through the National Youth Administration and correspondence with William Cardinal O'Connell. The seventy-fifth anniversary of the establishment of Boston College was celebrated with a number of commemorative events over the week of February 20-26, 1938, reflected in the collection by an Activities Week program, odes written by students for a school competition, and a pictorial and historical review of the College's history.


Language of Materials

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

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

William J. McGarry, SJ, was the eighteenth president of Boston College, leading the College from 1937 to 1939. McGarry was born in Hamilton, Massachusetts, on March 14, 1894, and began his association with Boston College as a pupil of Boston College High School. Upon graduation in 1911, he entered the Society of Jesus. As a student, he focused on biblical scholarship at Fordham University and later earned his degree as a Doctor of Sacred Theology from Woodstock College. After being ordained in 1925, McGarry attended the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome from 1928 to 1930 to earn his degree as Licentiate in Sacred Scriptures with Honors. Prior to his appointment as Boston College president, McGarry was the assistant editor of Thought starting in 1934 and taught at Boston College’s Graduate School during the 1936-1937 academic year. He was also dean at Weston College and taught sacred scriptures and dogmatic theology there from 1930 to 1937.

Although a brief two years, McGarry’s presidency included significant accomplishments for Boston College. McGarry founded the College of Business Administration. Also under McGarry’s administration, the Boston College community celebrated the seventy-fifth anniversary of its foundation with a week of symposiums, debates, plays, and a Papal Benediction from Rome. The school also published a pictorial history of the College and held an ode-writing contest.

McGarry inherited the sponsorship of an archaeological expedition in the Middle East from his predecessor, president Louis Gallagher. Early in 1937, Joseph G. Doherty, SJ, went to Lebanon to excavate a prehistoric rock shelter in Ksar Akil, near Beirut, Lebanon. The site proved to be unexpectedly rich in its archaeological yield and was approved for a second season. In 1938, the Paleolithic skeletons of two young people were uncovered; the age of the skeletons was estimated at 30,000 B.C. The excavation was slowed by its placement in the rock deposits, and their removal was postponed until 1939. The expedition’s third season in 1939 was abruptly interrupted by World War II.

McGarry’s tenure as president of Boston College ended in the summer of 1939 as his editorial experience was needed for the governance of a new journal, Theological Studies. McGarry died suddenly on September 23, 1941, in New York, New York.


Donovan, Charles F., David R. Dunigan, and Paul A. FitzGerald. History of Boston College: From the Beginnings to 1990. Chestnut Hill, MA: The University Press of Boston College, 1990.

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

"Student Body Mourns Death of Fr. McGarry." The Heights, vol.13, no. 1, September 26, 1941.


4.25 Linear Feet (4 containers)


The William James McGarry, SJ, President’s Office Records contain correspondence, photographs, financial statements, student applications, and booklets documenting the work of William McGarry, SJ, eighteenth president of Boston College from 1937 to 1939.


This collection is arranged into three series: I. General office files; II. Lebanon archaeological expedition at Ksar Akil; III. Seventy-fifth anniversary of Boston College. Each series is arranged alphabetically.


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.

Related Materials

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

William James McGarry, SJ, President's Office Records
1922-1944 (bulk 1937-1939)
unknown; revised by Stephanie Bennett
June 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2023 October: Moved 75th Anniversary clippings to shared oversize box.

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