The meaning of Tom O’Connor

Audio only

Published: March 2004

For nearly 50 years, Thomas H. O’Connor has not only been a pre-eminent historian of Boston and a prolific publisher of books about the Hub, but a significant educator of future historians. On January 29, 2004, in the Burns Library at Boston College, all these identities came together when professional colleagues (including many former students) gathered to celebrate the publication of Boston’s Histories (Northeastern: 2003). Edited by Boston College professors James O’Toole and David Quigley, the new book is a collection of essays written by historians of Boston in honor of, and building on, the significant contributions to the field made by the man frequently referred to as “the dean of Boston historians.”

Among O’Connor’s recent books are The Hub: Boston Past and Present (2001), Boston A to Z (2000), Civil War Boston (1997), and best-seller The Boston Irish (1995). In 1996, he won an Emmy for his role as consultant and narrator for the WGBH-TV documentary Boston: The Way it Was.

Following the reception, @BC spoke with O’Toole (a former O’Connor student) and Quigley, as well as Emmanuel College professor Bill Leonard (a former O’Connor student), and Bill Frolich, former director of Northeastern University Press. They talked about O’Connor’s complex legacy—for Boston, for historians, and for each of them.

O’Connor, 81, is presently at work on his 16th book, a social history of Boston.

This feature was posted on Monday, March 15, 2004 and is filed under Videos.
Writer: Ben Birnbaum
Producer: Jeff Reynolds