Panel To Note Legacy of Late 'Tip' O'Neill

Guide to speaker's papers published

By Michael Seele
Chronicle Editor

Boston College will celebrate the publication of a guide to its Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. Collection with a seminar and reception for the late speaker of the House of Representative's family, colleagues and friends on Monday, Sept. 29.

The guide is the result of nearly four years of effort by BC archivists, who catalogued 522 boxes of papers and materials the late speaker of the House of Representatives donated to his alma mater in 1987. It became the centerpiece of the University's Congressional Archives, which also include the papers of Robert Drinan, SJ, Edward Boland and Margaret Heckler.

The day's events will begin at 1:30 p.m. with a seminar in Gasson 100 titled "The Legacy of Speaker O'Neill." Panelists will include San Francisco Examiner Washington Bureau Chief and CNBC commentator Chris Matthews, a former staff member of O'Neill's; R. Shep Melnick, the Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. Professor of American Politics at Boston College; and Prof. John Tierney (Political Science), a congressional scholar. The event is open to the public.

A private reception later in the afternoon in Burns Library is expected to draw a number of O'Neill's friends, colleagues and family members.

O'Neill, who graduated from Boston College in 1936, won a seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives while still a student in 1935. He rose to speaker of that body before entering Congress in 1953. He ascended through the House leadership and became speaker in 1977, a post he held until his retirement in 1986.

The O'Neill Collection covers his entire career, but most of the material dates from the Washington years. In addition to large amounts of legislative materials, records of all major issues of the day are included, especially those related to the Vietnam War and Watergate. Also included is voluminous correspondence with presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Ford, Carter and Reagan, as well as with foreign heads of state and celebrities.

O'Neill, who frequently noted that "all politics is local," preserved materials from all of his congressional campaigns, as well as from his Democratic Party activities, and they are included in the collection.

The O'Neill Collection is open to interested scholars and members of the public.

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