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University Historian Thomas H. O'Connor to be honored this weekend

(11-28-2000) A conference honoring the "Dean of Boston History," University Historian Thomas H. O'Connor, will bring leading experts on the city's rich and storied past to the Boston College campus on Dec. 1 and 2.

The event, "Boston's Histories," is a salute to O'Connor's half-century of service as a member of the history faculty at Boston College and his appointment last year as University Historian.

Nationally recognized urban historian Sam Bass Warner, Jr., a visiting professor of history at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will deliver the event's keynote address, "O'Connor's Boston", at 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1.

During other conference sessions, University and visiting scholars will address the topics of Boston politics, Boston during the Civil War, and the cause and effects of the city's 1970's busing controversy.

O'Connor is the author of nine books on the history of Boston and its various populations. His most recent work, Boston A to Z, is a collection of topics, events, biographies, buildings, institutions and assorted happenings that have helped shape the city's long and colorful history. He also won an Emmy Award in 1996 for his role as historical consultant and narrator for the WGBH documentary "Boston: The Way It Was."

"Tom O'Connor has cast a long shadow, not only at this institution but everywhere in greater Boston, in terms of the study of history in this city," said Asst. Prof. David Quiqley (History), a co-organizer of the event. "Tom has been responsible for making Boston College a center for the study of the history of Boston.

"We wanted to pay tribute to a man who has devoted more than a half century of his life to the school and the study of history," Quigley said. "And there is no better way than to bring together many of the city's historians in his honor. We want to advance his legacy, to carry on and redefine the study of the history of metropolitan Boston."

Assoc. Prof. James O'Toole (History), also a conference organizer, noted that the event is expected to draw history enthusiasts from the public sector as well as the city's academic circles. "Tom O'Connor is not just a scholar who is interested only in other scholars," he said, "but one who has a great sense of getting his knowledge out to a wider public audience."

O'Connor is a frequent and popular lecturer at the John F. Kennedy Library, Boston Public Library, the Bostonian Society and other public venues, as well as in academic quarters, O'Toole noted.

The conference, which will be held in Gasson Hall, room 100, is free and open to the public. A conference luncheon in the Heights Room of the Lower Campus Dining Facility will be available on Saturday. Those wishing to attend the events should contact Quigley at (617) 552-1766 or to register.

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