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Robert J. McEwen, SJ papers

Collection BC-1996-082: Robert J. McEwen, SJ papers


  • Creation: 1929-1996

Scope and Contents

The collection documents the teaching, religious, and consumer advocacy career of Robert J. McEwen, SJ. The materials date from 1929 to 1996 and include correspondence, articles and talks by McEwen, photographs, audio recordings, newspapers clippings, meeting minutes, reports, and conference materials. The bulk of the material pertains to McEwen's involvement with consumer organizations and consumer issues at the state, regional, federal, and corporate levels.


Language of Materials

Primarily English and some French.

Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research.

Robert J. McEwen's tenure and promotion files as well as his application for federal employment are closed.

Audio cassette recordings have been digitally copied; all original media were retained, but may not be played due to format. Digital use copies can only be accessed in the Burns Library Reading Room. The audio reels are not available for playback due to format impermanence and can not be reformatted by Burns Library at this time. Please let Burns Library Public Services know of your specific interest; when it becomes possible we will schedule reformatting.

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

Robert J. McEwen was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1916 to Robert J. and Mary Ellen (Aherne) McEwen and he had one brother, John. He attended Boston College High School and in 1934, McEwen entered the Society of Jesus where he continued his religious and secondary education at Weston College. He earned a Bachelor's degree from Boston College in 1940, a Master's in Economics from Fordham University in 1943, a licentiate in sacred theology from Weston College in 1947, and his Doctorate in Economics from Boston College in 1957. McEwen became interested in the consumer movement while completing his dissertation on the relationship between fair trade laws and the Catholic theological and social ethics teaching on just prices.

McEwen's teaching career spanned fifty years at Boston College. He began teaching in the Economics Department in 1948 as an instructor, became an assistant professor in 1952 and chaired the department from 1957 to 1970. During his tenure as department chair, McEwen helped to grow the department and was responsible for hiring Alice Bourneuf in 1959. McEwen taught at Boston College until his death. Many of his courses sought to link consumer issues and social responsibility. He also taught economics courses at Loyola University of Los Angeles as a visiting professor in 1962.

McEwen was a prominent participant in numerous local, state, federal, and corporate consumer organizations and an advocate for many consumer interests, including fair trade and the social responsibilities of businesses. He played an important role in the founding of the Massachusetts Consumers' Council in 1963, the Consumer Federation of America in 1967, and the Conference of Consumer Organizations in 1973. He served as an active member of consumer organizations including the Association of Massachusetts Consumers, the American Council on Consumer Interests, the Consumers Union, and others. In addition, McEwen served on a variety of state, corporate, and federal advisory councils. At the federal level, he served on the Federal Reserve Board's Consumer Advisory Council; the Medical Assistance Advisory Council for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare; the Advisory Council for the Consumer Product Safety Commission; and the National Motor Vehicle Safety Advisory Council. At the corporate level, McEwen served on the advisory council for AT&T in the late 1970s through the 1990s and on the New England Consumer Appeals Board for the Ford Motor Company from 1983 to 1989. In many of these organizations McEwen held the position of president or chairman. McEwen also spoke at numerous consumer conferences and events and gave testimonies and statements before Congressional and state committees. He wrote articles, editorials, and book reviews on consumer issues.

McEwen continued to carry out his duties as a Jesuit and priest throughout his life. He became involved in a Jesuit conference on the social apostolate. As a priest, McEwen gave sermons at the Masses he conducted and he officiated at several funerals and weddings.

He died while visiting relatives in Ireland on May 15, 1996.


Long, Tom. "Rev. Robert McEwen, 79, Jesuit founded state Consumer Council." The Boston Globe, May 23, 1996.

"Long-time economics prof. Robert McEwen, SJ, dies." Boston College Chronicle, Vol. 4, No. 18, May 24, 1996.


54.5 Linear Feet (121 containers)

78.5 Gigabytes (57 files with approximately 41 hours of audio)


This collection documents the teaching, research, and religious career of twentieth-century Boston College professor and Jesuit Robert J. McEwen. The bulk of the material pertains to McEwen's consumer advocacy work with organizations at the state, national, and federal levels from the 1950s through the 1990s. Materials include correspondence, reports, writings, speeches, teaching materials, photographs, and audio recordings.


The collection is arranged in ten series: I. Audio recordings, II. Boston College, III. Consumer organizations, IV. Correspondence, V. Personal, VI. Photographs, VII. Religious materials, VIII. Speaking engagements, IX. Writings, and X. Separated materials.


Gift of Robert J. McEwen, SJ in 1994 and 1996. The American Council on Consumer Interests donated related content in 1998.

Related Materials

Material once held by Robert J. McEwen on the American Council on Consumer Interests were transferred by the John J. Burns Library to the Consumer Movement Archives of the Special Collections Department at the Hale Library at Kansas State University. Material once held by Robert J. McEwen on the Association of Massachusetts Consumers were transferred by the John J. Burns Library to the Archives and Special Collections Department at the Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

Processing Information

Legal size materials were copied and separated from the collection during initial processing. The copies were substituted for the originals and were kept with the rest of the collection. Series X. Separated materials, contains these legal size originals that were removed.

Robert J. McEwen, SJ Papers
Sarah K. Nytroe, October 2007; Rachael Young
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