Francis W. Sweeney
virtual exhibit fall 2004 - burns library
The variety of talented people who participated in the Humanities Series is a testament to Father Sweeney's love of all forms of creative expression. The lecturers were usually much taken by Sweeney's friendly personality and unobtrusive manner. Many were unfamiliar with Catholicism and had had little, if any, immediate contact with a priest. Father Sweeney was their first introduction. The repeated visits of many lecturers and the longevity of the Humanities Series is the ultimate evidence of Sweeney's success. As the lectures were open to the general public, the Humanities Series were also evidence of Boston College's growth from a regional university to its eminence as one of the leading national institutions of higher education.
Photo credit: Humanities Series - Director's Files, Burns Library, Boston College
The records from Father Sweeney's tenure as the Director of Humanities Series are presently part of the Burns Library's Manuscripts Department and serve the obvious role of a resource for biographers studying the individuals who spoke at Boston College. These materials, while not an exclusive source of information, are important in studying the activities of many literary figures. For instance, as illustrated here, the collection includes a handful of letters written by Jack Kerouac as well as copies of Sweeney's outgoing correspondence. Though Kerouac never lectured at Boston College, the letters reveal that the "Beat" writer did consider asking Sweeney to "formalize" his civil marriage to Stella Stampas but he changed his mind and never wrote Sweeney again.
The Humanities Series Records preserve the history of the lecture series for future scholars and serve as a most appropriate memorial to Sweeney's achievements during fifty years of service to Boston College.
The collection is open to researchers but the library encourages interested persons to contact the reference staff prior to a visit.