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Boston College collection of James B. Connolly

Collection MS-1986-192: Boston College collection of James B. Connolly


  • Creation: 1914 - 1965

Scope and Contents

The Boston College collection of James B. Connolly includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, publications, and writings by and about Connolly.

Correspondence includes communications with Connolly's literary agent, James A. Healy, regarding the placement of Connolly's work in libraries. Additional correspondence includes letters to Father Terence Connolly of Boston College regarding Limelight magazine.

Newspaper clippings primarily document the life of Connolly, from his rise to local fame through his participation in the Olympics and to his death. Various book reviews treat Connolly's professional experience as an author and often include brief biographical sketches. Other clippings include research done on Howard Blackburn, a fisherman from Gloucester, Massachusetts. This file consists of a reprint of Blackburn’s autobiography edited by Connolly and reviews of a similar book written by Joseph Garland.

Additional materials include a biography Connolly wrote of his mother and grandmother, stories about his family, a notebook, and a photo of the diploma he was awarded at the Olympics.


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

James Brendan Connolly was born on October 28, 1868, in Boston, Massachusetts. His parents, John and Ann (O'Donnell), immigrated to Boston from the Aran Islands in the late 1850s.

After completing grade school, Connolly worked as a clerk for a Boston insurance firm before joining the Army Corps of Engineers in Savannah, Georgia. Largely self-educated, he eventually passed the entrance exam for Harvard University but withdrew in March 1896 to participate in the first Olympic Games in Greece. Connolly received a gold medal in the triple jump, making him the first American to win an Olympic medal in the modern games.

Connolly served in the Ninth Massachusetts Infantry during the Spanish American War and was present at the Siege of Santiago. Connolly sent home his accounts of the experience to the Boston Globe, which published them as Letters from the Front in Cuba. He later attended the 1904 Summer Olympics as a correspondent and covered the First World War for publications such as Harper's and Collier's.

Connolly emerged as a respected novelist. His stories featured themes of the sea and fishing and generally centered on the coastal town of Gloucester, Massachusetts. In addition to his writing, he edited and contributed articles to the Boston magazine Limelight throughout the 1930s.

Connolly was eventually conferred honorary degrees from many New England colleges, including Boston College. Notably, he did not accept Harvard's offer.

Connolly died on January 21, 1957, at the age of 88 in Brookline, Massachusetts.


"A Great American: James B. Connolly.” The Heights, Feb 2, 1951.

“Author Connolly Dies; Ist U.S. Olympic Champ." Daily Boston Globe (1928-1960), Jan 21, 1957.

"Connolly, James Brendan." Colliers New Encyclopedia. New York: P. F. Collier and Son Company, 1921.

"James B. Connolly." Gale Literature: Contemporary Authors. Detroit, MI: Gale, 2007.

"Jim Connolly 85 Today." Daily Boston Globe (1928-1960), Oct 28, 1953.


2 Linear Feet (2 containers)

Language of Materials



The collection contains materials about James Brendan Connolly (1868-1957), an Irish-American athlete and author. It includes writings by and about him, newspaper clippings and ephemera, and a full run of Limelight magazine for which he served as an editor.


The collection is arranged in five series: I. Limelight, II. Newspaper clippings, III. Correspondence, IV. About Connolly, and V. Writings.


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. However, correspondence on file indicates that portions of this collection were gifts of James B. Connolly (1952) and James A. Healy (1965).

Boston College Collection of James B. Connolly
Under Revision
Steve Conway, 1996; revised by Rachael Young and Nick Arata
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