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W. G. Read Mullan, SJ, President's Office records

Collection BC-1986-020D: W. G. Read Mullan, SJ, President's Office records


  • Creation: circa 1898-1930s
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1898 - 1900

Scope and Contents

The W. G. Read Mullan, SJ, President’s Office records contain clippings, correspondence, and publications documenting Mullan's administration as the eleventh president of Boston College. Most of the material relates to the controversy over Harvard University administration's view of academic standards at Boston College and other Jesuit universities. Boston College/Harvard University debate materials include newspaper clippings regarding the controversy and correspondence with members of Harvard University administration, primarily president Charles W. Eliot and chairman of the committee on admissions Hans C. G. von Jagemann, as well as with a special committee of Boston College alumni. A copy of Eliot's Atlantic Monthly article “Recent Changes in Secondary Education” and Thomas J. Sullivan's President Eliot and Boston College: Record of a Famous Educational Protest, a collection of statements, articles, and letters that appeared in various local and national publications as part of the debate, are also included. Papers concerning Boston College buildings and properties make up a small portion of the collection.


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

W.G. Read Mullan was born in 1860 in Baltimore, Maryland to John P. and Emily Susannah (Adam) Mullan. John Mullan was a sexton of the Cathedral of Baltimore, as was his father. A great-great aunt, Catherine Mullan, was among the first companions of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.

W.G. Read Mullan, named for orator and family friend William G. Read, Jr., entered Loyola College in 1874 and the Jesuit Novitiate at Frederick, Maryland, in 1877. Following the novitiate and training in rhetoric and philosophy, Mullan taught classics and literature at Fordham and Georgetown universities. In 1888, Mullan began his training in theology at Woodstock College, a Jesuit seminary in Woodstock, Maryland, and in 1890, he was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Gibbons. Mullan went on to serve as Prefect of Studies at Fordham University, Superior of the Scholastics at Woodstock College, and a professor at Holy Cross, before being appointed President of Boston College (1898-1903). As a professor and rector, Mullan was known for his commitment to the academic and personal development of his students, the improvement of Catholic education, and the insurance of rigorous academic standards at Catholic schools.

During his tenure at Boston College, Mullan became involved in the educational controversy surrounding the exclusion of Boston College from the list of acceptable institutions for admission as a regular student to Harvard Law School and subsequent remarks from Harvard President Charles W. Eliot disparaging Jesuit institutions. Mullan vigorously defended the credentials of Catholic education and Jesuit institutions in his correspondence with Eliot, in public speech, and in print.

Following his time at Boston College, Mullan went on to serve as Prefect of Fordham University, Georgetown University, and Loyola College (1907-1908). About six months into his term at Loyola, ill health forced Mullan to resign his post. He was admitted to St. Agnes Hospital, Baltimore, where he remained until his death on January 25, 1910. He was buried in the Jesuit cemetery at Woodstock, Maryland.


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

The Woodstock Letters, Vol. 39, Woodstock College, 1910.


.25 Linear Feet (1 container)

Language of Materials



The W. G. Read Mullan, SJ, President's Office records contain correspondence, clippings, and publications documenting Mullan's administration as the eleventh president of Boston College. The bulk of material relates to the educational controversy surrounding Harvard University administration's view of the academic standards at Boston College in particular, and Jesuit schools in general. Also included are documents about Boston College buildings and land purchases.


The W. G. Read Mullan, SJ, President's Office records are 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. The majority of the materials in this collection were transferred to the archives from the President's Office. The Henry Whitmore letter was transferred to the archives in January 1991.

Related Materials

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


W.G. Read Mullan, SJ, President's Office Records
circa 1898-1930s (bulk 1898-1900)
unknown. Revised by AnneMarie Anderson, April 2010, and Alexandra Bisio
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