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Timothy Brosnahan, SJ, President's Office records

Collection BC-2013-022: Timothy Brosnahan, SJ, President's Office records


  • Creation: 1897 - 1929

Scope and Contents

The Timothy Brosnahan, SJ, President's Office Records contain correspondence, clippings, and writings documenting the life and work of Timothy Brosnahan, SJ, the tenth president of Boston College. Correspondents include James Barr Ames, dean of Harvard Law School and party to a controversy over Boston College students' acceptance to Harvard; and J. Havens Richards, SJ, president of Georgetown University. Brosnahan was also involved in a 1900 controversy over an article in the Atlantic Monthly by Harvard University president Charles Eliot about the lack of change in Jesuit education. Dr. Francis Barnes of Cambridge, a Boston College alumni, gave a speech in the Jesuits' defense that was then published, and Father Brosnahan published a rebuttal article to President Eliot's in The Sacred Heart Journal. Clippings in this collection reflect these men's positions in the debate. Also included are clippings regarding a sermon about "unrecognized saints" given by Reverend Robert Walker, an Episcopalian pastor who was involved in the criminal justice system.


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

Timothy Brosnahan was born in Alexandria, Virginia, on January 8, 1865. He attended private and parochial schools in Washington, DC, and then enrolled at Gonzaga College preparatory school in the same city in September 1869. Three years later, he applied for admission to the Society of Jesus and entered the novitiate at Frederick, Maryland. He attended Woodstock College for his course in philosophy and, in 1879, was sent to Boston College to complete his teaching period and remained there until 1883, when he was transferred to Georgetown. He finally returned to Woodstock to complete his theology training and was ordained in 1887. While teaching at Boston College, Brosnahan helped to establish the college magazine the Stylus.

Brosnahan returned to Boston College as a professor of philosophy in 1892. In 1894, he was chosen as the tenth president of Boston College. One of Brosnahan’s lasting achievements during his time as Boston College president was his essay, "System of Education." This essay appeared as the introduction to Boston College’s annual course catalog during his tenure, and remained part of the catalog for 57 years. In addition, Brosnahan’s essay was taken up and adapted for use by a number of other Jesuit colleges.

Following his departure from Boston College in 1898, Brosnahan came to national prominence in Catholic circles with his response to Harvard University president Charles Eliot’s criticism of Jesuit education, which had been published in The Atlantic Monthly. Brosnahan’s defense of Jesuit education, published in The Sacred Heart Review, was widely admired and sometimes taught in rhetoric classes.

After leaving Boston College, Brosnahan taught at Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland; he died in 1915, at the age of fifty-nine, at Georgetown University hospital.


Brosnahan, Rev. Timothy, SJ, "The Courses Leading to the Baccalaureate in Harvard College and Boston College," The Sacred Heart Review, vol. 23, no. 17, April 28, 1900. Accessed June 26, 2013,

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.

The Sacred Heart Review, "Recent Deaths," vol. 54, no. 1, 19th June, 1915. Accessed June 26, 2013,


.25 Linear Feet (1 container)

Language of Materials



The Timothy Brosnahan, SJ, President's Office records contain correspondence, clippings, and writings documenting the life and work of Timothy Brosnahan, SJ, the tenth president of Boston College.



Related Materials

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


Timothy Brosnahan, SJ, President's Office Records
Stephanie Bennett
July 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Revision Statements

  • February 2023: Updated folder numbers

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