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John T. Galvin papers

Collection BC-1996-083: John T. Galvin papers


  • Creation: 1833-1897, 1931-1997
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1953 - 1994

Scope and Contents

Composed primarily of research files of Galvin relating to the history of Boston, in support of his (unpublished) book "Boston Politics and Boston Politicians" and other shorter works. Drafts of the book and other works are also present. Galvin's correspondence mostly pertains to his research, as well as his political involvement, especially his advocacy for Boston parks and green spaces. Personal materials include photographs of his Navy service in Japan during World War II, as well as appearances at social events with Boston notables, including John F. Kennedy. In addition, there are some items produced by and related to the Boston Citizen Seminars, which Galvin co-founded.


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: John T. Galvin

John Thomas Galvin was born on December 26, 1914 in Boston, MA, to Thomas J. and Agnes M. (Hughes) Galvin. He was an alumnus of both Boston College High School (1931) and Boston College (1937).

John Galvin handled press and publicity for the Boston Community Fund Campaign (now United Way) after graduating from Boston College, and then enlisted in the United States Navy in 1940. He served in the Navy during World War II in the campaigns of the Solomon Islands, Philippines, and Iwo Jima and the occupation of Japan. He remained a Captain in the Naval Reserve until his retirement in 1973. Upon returning to Massachusetts after World War II, he began a career as a public relations director, working for the John C. Dowd Advertising Agency (1946-1956), Massachusetts Federation of Taxpayers Association, Inc. (1947-1957), the World Trade Center in Boston (1957-1966), and Tuft-New England Medical Center. He was a communications consultant for Boston College President W. Seavey Joyce, SJ.

Galvin also wrote extensively, contributing articles and book reviews to the Boston Herald American, Coronet, Washington Star, New England Quarterly, Dictionary of American Biography, and other publications.

Galvin had a strong interest in local politics, dedicating most of his research, writing, and extra-professional time to it. He worked closely with John F. Kennedy’s campaigns for Congress, including writing Kennedy's 1946 campaign announcement and serving as his public relations advisor in 1952. Galvin was the executive director of the Boston Citizens Council from 1954 to 1957. While Raymond Flynn was mayor of Boston, Galvin served as an associate commissioner of the Boston Parks Department. The preservation and enhancement of Boston’s parks and buildings served as the focal point for his involvement with the Friends of the Public Garden and the George B. Henderson Foundation.

In 1954, Galvin and W. Seavey Joyce, SJ, then dean of the College of Business Administration at Boston College, founded the Boston Citizen Seminars, a series of sessions bringing together business, professional, and labor leaders in Boston to discuss urban renewal. Galvin continued as the program chairman of the Seminars until 1962.

John T. Galvin married journalist Ruth Mehrtens Galvin (1922-2002) in 1968; they did not have children. He died on September 19, 1994 at Youville Hospital in Cambridge, MA.


Articles about Galvin, Box 1, Folder 1, John T. Galvin papers, BC.1996.083, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Biographical and genealogical information, Box 1, Folder 2, John T. Galvin papers, BC.1996.083, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

John T. Galvin obituaries, Box 4, Folder 2, John T. Galvin papers, BC.1996.083, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Ruth Mehrtens Galvin Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, SSC-MS-00181, Smith College Special Collections, Northampton, Mass. Accessed April 20, 2023.


13 Linear Feet (9 containers)

Language of Materials



Research files, writings, correspondence, and photographs of author and executive John T. Galvin (Boston College class of 1937), predominantly pertaining to his work on the history of Boston politics.


Arranged in four series: I. Correspondence; II. Personal files; III. Research and writings; and IV. Boston Citizen Seminars. Series III is further arranged in two subseries: A. Notes, drafts, and articles; and B. "Boston Politics and Boston Politicians." Materials within series are arranged alphabetically.


Gifts of Ruth Mehrtens Galvin in 1996, 1998, and 1999, and the estate of John and Ruth Galvin in 2003. The manuscript of the Boston College Magazine article was a transfer from Ben Birnbaum, Boston College Office of Communications in 2005.

Related Materials

George E. Ryan papers, MS.2002.033, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Joe McCarthy papers, BC.1996.048, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

John T. Galvin Oral History Interview – JFK#1, 5/15/1964. John F. Kennedy Oral History Collection (#405), John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

John T. Galvin research materials, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Ruth Mehrtens Galvin Campaign Memorabilia, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Ruth Mehrtens Galvin Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, SSC-MS-00181, Smith College Special Collections, Northampton, Mass.

Separated Materials

Published works associated with this collection have been transferred within the Burns Library and can be found in the Boston College Library catalog.

Processing Information

This collection initially included large amounts of research files, comprised mainly of clippings from major newspapers and print-outs from newspapers held in microform at the Boston Public Library. Because of their fragile and bulky nature, and because they are easily accessed in other repositories, the archivist deaccessioned the clippings and print-outs. The collection still contains Galvin's research request forms, which include itemized lists of most of the deaccessioned materials. The subject files remaining in the collection contain Galvin's notes and drafts, and retain his original file titles, except where noted.

  • Newspaper clippings
  • Martin Lomasney scrapbooks
John T. Galvin Papers
1833-1897, 1931-1994, bulk 1953-1994
Elizabeth Peters
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