FALL 2013

Research Revealed: Summer at the Burns Library

Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room Letter written by Gerard Manley Hopkins to a friend in 1862,
from the Hopkins Family Papers

Summer 2013 proved a busy time at the John J. Burns Library. Summer researchers tend to be working on long-term research projects, spending weeks at a time in the Burns Reading Room looking at large portions of collections or entire collections. Popular manuscript collections this summer included the Graham Greene Papers, Donnelly and Sons Records, Jane Jacobs Papers and the Hopkins Family Papers.

This wide selection of collections ranging from a nineteenth century poet's family papers and correspondence, to the advertising materials of Boston based company Donnelly & Sons to the papers of urban planning activist Jane Jacobs reflects the range of interests among researchers as well as the breadth of the collections at Burns. We thought you might be interested to learn more about the work of two particular researchers, whose projects will result in publications about Burns Library collections.

Graduate student Catherine Ahearn of Boston University visited the Reading Room this summer so that she could look at all the books of Flann O'Brien's library. Burns holds the libraries of several authors, including that of Flann O'Brien (one of the pseudonyms of comic Irish writer Brian Nolan). Most researchers examine only a few volumes of an author's library so this project was exciting and for staff and researcher alike. O'Brien's library consists of well-read volumes including a guidebook on how to have better eyesight without glasses, a two volume set of Ulysses, and many copies of his own novels. Filled with annotations and signatures, O'Brien's library offers a glimpse into the author's literary life. While doing her research, Ahearn examined each book, recording descriptive details of a text such as any inscriptions and dates written within the front matter. Ahearn plans to publish her findings in The Parish Review, the journal of the International Flann O'Brien Society (IFOBS). If you are interested in receiving updates on the IFOBS conference and a copy of the e-journal The Parish Review, send your e-mail address to viennacis.anglistic@univie.ac.at.

Canadian author Richard Greene visited the Burns Reading Room over the summer to peruse the Graham Greene Papers. Richard is currently working on a new biography of Graham Greene, which has been authorized by the Greene estate. This book follows Richard Greene's 2007 book Graham Greene: A Life in Letters. The new book will be titled Involvements: The Life and Times of Graham Greene and Greene's general plan is to focus on his travels and writings about troubled places such as Mexico, Haiti, and Vietnam. For more information about Richard Greene, take a look at his website. Although Richard and Graham share the same last name, they are not related!

In addition to our daily work with researchers, Burns staff members also posted weekly articles on the Burns blog over the summer. Shelley Barber, the Burns Reference and Archives Specialist, researched the journal of Henry Lyon, a British sailor who kept an account of his involvement in the First Opium War of 1842. Enid Karr, Senior Reference Librarian/Bibliographer at O'Neill Library wrote a post about her experience putting together the "Father Linehan at Operation Deep Freeze" exhibit and the challenges and excitement of working with realia, including two model penguins. We also published two posts on the current exhibits in the Burns Library. Senior Special Collections Cataloging Assistant Jay Moschella wrote about "Recusant Books, or Catholike Life & Literature in an Age of Persecution" and posted a Flickr set of images from this exhibit. Former Reading Room Student Assistant James Daryn Henry wrote about the connections between Boston College and Anglo-American Catholic writer and monk Thomas Merton in "Exhibitions Update: Working for the Jesuits." In the last blog post of the summer, Burns Conservator Barbara Adams Hebard highlighted the unexpected discoveries that sometimes characterize work in special collections.

Check out the Burns Facebook Page, the Burns Blog and the Burns Flickr site for more exciting news about collections, research and classes this Fall.

Rachel Ernst
Burns Library Reading Room Assistant
Justine Sundaram
Senior Reference Librarian, Burns Library