Trove of Irish Civil War Letters Donated to Boston College
By Dave Lewis, Editorial Assistant
June / July 2018
Six years after finding a box in her attic with her great-great-grandfather’s photographs and letters from his time in the American Civil War – and one book later – author of Yours Faithfully, Florence Burke: An Irish Immigrant Story and former educator Ellen B. Alden donated these artifacts of the early days of the Irish American experience to Boston College’s John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collection at a ceremony co-sponsored by The Éire Society of Boston.
Alden’s great-great-grandfather, Florence Burke, emigrated to Massachusetts in 1848 to escape the Famine and, in January 1864, he took the ultimate risk to ensure his family’s security by taking the place of a wealthy banker in the Union Army. Unfortunately, Burke died at the Battle of Petersburg in June 1864, but his memory will live on not only within the Alden family, but with Irish studies students and scholars around the world. ♦