The closure of the Boston College Troubles archive is historical loss
The facility was an attempt to prevent the past returning to haunt our future
LAST week Boston College announced the final collapse of its archival project which had been designed to store interviews with loyalists and republicans for the use of future scholars who wanted to deepen their historical understanding of the Troubles. Presumably, Boston has now learnt the bitter lesson of that well-known aphorism, 'No good deed goes unpunished"
Boston College has contributed more to the Peace Process, in a truly ecumenical way, than any other American university. Its prestige has grown in recent years and a good part of the growing reputation was down to the beautiful new Burns Library, in particular its acquisition of archives of an Irish or Catholic significance. As the Visiting Professor in the Burns Library 1999-2000, it was part of my duty to recommend new archives.
I strongly supported the idea of a Troubles archive in part because I was aware that the material for the study of earlier phases of the Northern Troubles was relatively scant. In the optimistic atmosphere just after the Good Friday Agreement, it seemed a logical step. A proper understanding of the past is a building block for the future. I recall saying that this was for graduate students in the next generation.