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American Studies


Burns Library--Rare Books & Archives

The primary goal of this guide is to help identify resources for studying various areas of American Studies.

About the John J. Burns Library


The University’s special collections, including the University’s Archives, are housed in the Honorable John J. Burns Library. Burns Library staff members work with students and faculty to support learning and teaching at Boston College, offering access to unique primary sources through instruction sessions, exhibits, and programming. The Burns Library also serves the research needs of external scholars, hosting researchers from around the globe interested in using the collections. The Burns Library has achieved international recognition in several specific areas of research, most notably: Irish studies; British Catholic authors; Jesuitica; Fine printing; Catholic liturgy and life in America, 1925-1975; Boston history; the Caribbean, especially Jamaica; Nursing; and Congressional archives. To learn more about specific holdings in Burns, please see The Burns Library’s digital collections are among the listings at

These materials are available for use in the Burns Library Reading Room.

Hours & Location

Visit the Boston College University Libraries Hours Page to view the Burns Library's hours.

The Burns Library's entrance is located on the North side of the Bapst building, which faces Boston College's main gate on Commonwealth Avenue. Look at this Boston College Chestnut Hill campus map for more detailed information.

Finding & Using Finding Aids @ BC

Finding Aids are descriptive tools more detailed than catalog records and specifically created for archival materials. A growing number of finding aids are online, but some are only available at the Burns Library. Working with finding aids online, consider:

Finding Catalog Records for All Collections with Finding Aids Online:

  • In the Catalog, use the Local Collection Names "FINDING AID"

Full Text Searching across Finding Aids

Search within Finding Aids

  • Finding aids available online are PDFs or HTML pages
  • Use CTRL+F to search within a single finding aid

Finding Archival Material @ BC

In Advanced Search consider one of these strategies in addition to your search terms:

Limit Your Search

  • by Search Scope "Burns Library"
  • by Material Type "Archives & Manuscripts"

Use Local Collection Names (Change "Anywhere in record" to "Local collection")

Use Subject Keywords for Form/Genre (Change "Anywhere in record" to "Subject")

  • "Sources"
  • "Letters"
  • "Correspondence"
  • "Manuscripts"
  • "Photographs"

Try Keywords in Title (Change "Anywhere in record" to "Title")

  • "Papers"
  • "Collection"
  • "Records"