Boston College Libraries Faculty Newsletter


FALL 2010

Burns Acquisitions

Few acquisitions by Burns Library have stirred as much excitement and enthusiasm as the recent purchase of the first edition, first issue of Newton's Principia (Philosophiæ naturalis principia mathematica). Over the past decade Burns has made a concerted effort to bolster its collection on the history of science. It was fitting that the 2,000,000 book acquired by BC Libraries in 2003 was the first edition of Galileo's Istoria e dimostrazioni intorno alle macchie solari e loro accidenti :  comprese in tre lettere scritte all'illvstrissimo signor Marco Velseri ... /  dal signor Galileo Galilei ... ; si aggiungono nel fine le lettere, e disquisizioni del finto Apelle [Christoph Scheiner]. In Roma: Appresso Giacomo Mascardi, MDCXIII [1613]. This pioneering work on the subject of sun spots and inertia was a gift of Wega and Angelo Firenze, Belmont, MA, from the library of Wega's father, acclaimed physicist Pasquale Sconzo. A number of key scientific works by Copernicus, Clavius, Kircher, Scheiner, and a third edition Newton's Principia have been added since the Istoria, but the addition of the first edition of the Principia  gives the University community special reason to celebrate. 


Burns continues to add steadily to its Irish collection, already the largest and most comprehensive of its kind in the U.S., with some 60,000 volumes, more than 800,000 manuscripts, and major holdings of photographs, maps, recordings, works of art, serials, musical instruments, antique furniture, and ephemera.  Recent acquisitions include the addition of more than 30,000 negatives to the Library's Bobbie Hanvey Photographic Negative Archive. Highlights of recent acquisitions include 247 negatives of poet Seamus Heaney speaking at the unveiling of the sculpture "Turfman" in the Village of Bellaghy on April 2, 2009.  Among the photographs, Seamus Heaney is shown speaking and greeting guests, including Jack Graham, Chairman of Bellaghy Development Association, Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister, Northern Ireland, and Margaret Ritchie, leader of SDLP.  Other Hanvey additions include color and black & white portraits of writer John McGahern (d. 2006) taken in and around McGahern's home in Co Leitrim in the 1970s and '80s; color and black and white portraits of writer Eugene McCabe taken at his home in Dromard, Co Fermanagh, in 2005, and color and b&w portraits of the late Dr. Noel Browne, former Minister for Health in the Republic of Ireland, taken at his home in Connemara, Co Galway, in the 1990s. Photographic negatives of poet Brendan Kennelly (taken in 2008) and President Bill Clinton (taken in 1995), along with photographic negatives of the gravesite of writer Patick MacGill in Fall River, MA were donated to BC by Hanvey, who also transferred copyright to Boston College for all the images in the Burns archive. 

To strengthen its Northern Ireland collection, Burns also acquired “The New Ulster Movement” archives - 1969 to 1975. Brian Walker, Founder Chair of N.U.M., describes the movement “as a political catalyst in favour of solving conflict in Ulster non-violently. It developed as a kind of political Fabian society of Protestants & Roman Catholics during the ‘troubles’ of the sixties & seventies. It created a presence in virtually every town & village in Ulster, rigorously researched & then promoted a constant stream of political ideas & concepts (e.g. the original proposals for ‘power-sharing’, ‘incitement to religious hatred’, the development of mixed education with the teaching of Irish History as its centre piece, promoted peaceful methods for solving the problem of violence endemic in Ulster which were then canvassed in Westminster, Stormont, the Dail & Brussels, liaised with colleagues in the U.S.A. & wider afield, & constantly promoted the ideas of practical, political community peace & reconciliation through the media in Northern Ireland & further afield). N.U.M. gave birth to the Alliance Party which had its real successes at local government level, introducing practical methods & ideas of non-violence in the local community. N.U.M. itself continued its work of political reconciliation, in parallel to these activities.”

In early 2010, Ann Woodward of New York City donated an extensive nineteenth and early twentieth-century family archive assembled primarily by her mother Mary Moore Chamberlin Woodward and her aunt Ann Lincoln Chamberlin Dover.  This Irish-American archive consists of books, paintings, photographs, sketch books and various nineteenth century artifacts, including tables, a sewing box, a tea set, and a bed warmer. Other major acquisitions include a John Hewitt (1907-1987) special collection of his poetry, consisting of more than 50 volumes, many of which are inscribed, and/or presentation copies from the author; the first edition of The Edinburgh Miscellany: A Collection of the Most Approved Scotch, English and Irish Songs Set to Music, 2 volumes (1892-1793); a collection of more than 100 Samuel Beckett works, many quite rare, and the nine-volume set of the recently published Dictionary of Irish Biography, edited by James Maguire and published by Cambridge University Press.  Standing orders with several Irish publishers and Kennys Books in Galway assure that the Library will continue to acquire recent publications in a comprehensive manner. 

Some fifty rare and early Jesuit works have been added to the Library's Jesuitica Collection (1540-1773) in the past few months, including a remarkable collection of 36 Latin American books, including two unpublished manuscripts.  Of special interest are several extremely rare seventeenth century grammars and dictionaries of Indian languages, including D. González Holguín's Gramática y arte nueva de la lengua general de todo el Perú llamada lengua Quichua o lengua del Inca. Añadida y cumplida en todo lo que le faltaba en tiempos y de la Gramática… Ciudad de los Reyes, Perú. Francisco del Canto, impresor. 1608; {with} Vocabulario de la lengua general de todo el Perú llamada lengua Quechua. Impresso en la Ciudad de los Reyes, por Francisco del Canto, 1608; a Spanish – Quechua dictionary by F. del Canto, Arte, y vocabulario en la lengua general del Perú, llamada Quichua, y en la lengua española. Los Reyes [i.e., Lima]. Por Francisco del Canto. 1614; and A. Ruiz de Montoya'sextremely rare Tesoro de la lengua guaraní. Compuesto por… de la Compañía de Iesus. Dedicado a la Soberana Virgen María. Madrid. Juan Sánchez. 1630.  Perhaps the most important of the language works in this collection is a complete copy in its original Jesuit binding of L. Bertonio's Libro de la vida y milagros de Nuestro Señor Iesu Christo en dos Lenguas, Aymará, y Romance, traducido de el que recopiló Alonso de Villegas,  y acomodado a la capacidad de los Indios. Impresso en la Casa de la Compañía de Jesús de Julí Pueblo en la Provincia de Chucuyto por Francisco del Canto, 1612. This is one of the only four books printed by the first independent Jesuit printing house in South America in Julí, Peru.  It is the translation to the Aymara Indian language of the Vita Christi. Also of great interest are a number of books and manuscripts relating to the expulsion of the Jesuits from Spanish domains.  These include an unpublished unique manuscript and various printed royal decrees, including the first edition of the decree in which King Carlos III of Spain orders the expulsion of the Jesuits (1767) and another ordering the closing of all Jesuit schools.  The addition of these important and rare Latin American works strengthens not only the Library's Jesuitica Collection but also its Latin American holdings.

For current news about the Burns Library, please visit the Library's blog and Facebook page. Special thanks to Reference Librarian Justine Sundaram and Irish Studies Librarian Kathy Williams for their work on these sites.


Bob O’Neill
Burns Library