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Thomas Ignatius Gasson, SJ, President's Office records

Collection BC-1986-020E: Thomas Ignatius Gasson, SJ, President's Office records


  • Creation: 1868 - 1940
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1907 - 1914

Scope and Contents

The Thomas Ignatius Gasson, SJ, President’s Office records contain general correspondence, construction records, clippings, and personal materials documenting Gasson's administration as the thirteenth president of Boston College. General correspondence primarily documents Boston College’s move to the Chestnut Hill campus from the South End in 1913, and includes letters discussing the acquisition of the property and construction of Boston College buildings. A significant amount of this correspondence is between Gasson and William Henry Cardinal O’Connell, then Archbishop of Boston. Chestnut Hill campus construction records consist mainly of business documents, such as contracts, building specifications, and property assessments, as well as some related correspondence. Many of these documents are from the construction of the Recitation Building, now called Gasson Hall. Materials in this series document contribution drives held to finance the Chestnut Hill building project, including a ledger kept by Gasson describing property costs and listing contributions for the land. Clippings in this collection chronicle the Chestnut Hill move, and also include articles regarding Gasson's stand on contemporary political and social topics, as well as his work in the Catholic community and comments on Catholic issues.

Personal materials comprise articles written by Gasson, a copy of his oration “Women and the Higher Intellectual Life,” as well as information on the Gasson family, a photograph of Gasson, and memorial acknowledgements marking his death. Also included are the records of St. Botolph’s Guild, composed of meeting minutes, the constitution, amendments, and bylaws, a list of members (as of 1909), and address cards of Guild member applicants. The primary objective of the Guild was to raise funds for the expansion of Boston College, so that the physical campus would match the standard of the educational, ethical, and moral integrity of the college and its educators.


Language of Materials

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

Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research; portions are also 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

Thomas Ignatius Gasson was born in Seven Oaks, Kent, England on September 23, 1859 to parents of English and French Huguenot ancestry. Originally instructed in the Protestant tradition, Gasson was educated at Saint Stephen’s Anglican School in London and under the private tutelage of the Reverend Allen Edwards, a clergyman of the Church of England. In 1872, following the death of his mother and his father’s subsequent remarriage, he left England planning to join his elder brother in the United States.

Failing to settle with his brother, Gasson attempted to support himself in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Two Irish women, Catherine Doyle and Anne McGarvey, befriended the young Englishman, and arranged for the Sisters of the Convent of the Sacred Heart to provide him with board and instruct him in the Catholic faith. He was baptized on October 5, 1874 at the Chapel of the Holy Family, now the Church of the Gesu in Philadelphia.

In November 1875, he entered the Jesuit order at Frederick, Maryland, and began his studies at the Woodstock College seminary. He taught at Loyola College in Baltimore and St. Francis Xavier College in New York while preparing for ordination. For his theological studies, he was sent to the University of Innsbruck in Austria, where he was ordained on July 26, 1891. In 1892, he returned to the United States to take a teaching post, possibly at Mount St. Mary’s University in Frederick County, Maryland. In 1895, he was assigned to the faculty of Boston College where he taught ethics, economics, and the junior classes. On January 6, 1907 he was appointed the thirteenth president of Boston College.

In an attempt to alleviate overcrowding on the Boston College campus in the South End, Gasson purchased property in Chestnut Hill and moved the University to newly-constructed facilities there in 1913. The new campus buildings, designed by Charles Donagh Maginnis and Timothy Walsh in consultation with Ralph Adams Cram, have since become national collegiate architectural models.

After his term as Boston College president, Father Gasson was appointed dean of the Graduate School and professor of philosophy and economics at Georgetown University. In 1924, he left Georgetown to teach philosophy, economics, and theology at Loyola College, Montreal, Quebec. He died in Montreal on February 27, 1930, and was buried in the Jesuit Cemetery at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts.


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.


2 Linear Feet (5 containers)


The Thomas Ignatius Gasson, SJ President's Office records contain correspondence, construction records, clippings, personal items, and St. Boltoph's Guild records documenting Gasson's administration as the thirteenth president of Boston College. Materials primarily document Boston College’s move to the Chestnut Hill campus from the South End in 1913.


The Thomas Ignatius Gasson, SJ, President's Office records are arranged in five series: I. Correspondence; II. Chestnut Hill campus construction; III. Clippings; IV. Personal materials; and V. St. Botolph's Guild records. All materials are arranged chronologically. Correspondence in series I is listed both by correspondent and by subject.


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.

Contracts relating to the Recitation Building (now Gasson Hall) and St. Mary's Hall, as well as correspondence between Thomas Gasson and Charles Logue were a gift of the Logue family in March 1993. An additional letter from Gasson to Logue was removed from a book previously owned by Logue, and was transferred to Boston College in April 1998.

Correspondence between Boston College presidents Gasson, Lyons, and Devlin and The New England Provincial of the Society of Jesus, a speech, as well as some miscellaneous items, were originally housed in the Archives of the New England Jesuit Province, and were transferred to Boston College in October 1993. Additional correspondence, memos, and photographs were donated in December 1997.

Correspondence between Gasson and Patrick Sullivan was donated to Boston College by J. Whitney Sullivan, SJ in January 1996.

A letter written by Gasson to Jeremiah J. Mackin and photograph of Mackin were donated to Boston College by T. Frank Kennedy, SJ in May 2005.

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.

Philomatheia Club records, BC.1998.031, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.



Thomas Ignatius Gasson, SJ, President’s Office Records
1868-1940, (bulk 1907-1914)
unknown; revised by AnneMarie Anderson and Michael J. Burns, 2010. Further revision by Alexandra Bisio, June 2013. Accrual added by Molly Aleshire
August 2023
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