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Guiney Family Papers

Identifier: SC007-GUIN

Scope and Contents

This collection primarily contains the papers of Patrick Guiney and Louise Imogen Guiney. In addition, Grace Guiney’s papers pertaining to Louise’s estate and literary career, materials pertaining to friends and acquaintances of Louise and the records of the Guiney Memorial Collection of the College of the Holy Cross are in the collection. It is divided into five subgroups: Louise Imogen Guiney; Guiney Associates; Guiney Memorial Collection at Holy Cross; Patrick Guiney; and Three-Dimensional Objects.

The largest subgroup of the collection is the Louise Imogen Guiney and this mostly contains correspondence, photographs, manuscripts, copies of her published work, research notes, scrapbooks, notebooks, and newspaper clippings. Materials date from 1872 to 1960s with the majority dating from 1900 to 1920. This subgroup is arranged in the following series: Correspondence; Writing; Varia; Biographical Information and Clippings; and Visual Materials.

The Guiney Associates subgroup consists of materials pertaining to Grace Guiney and to Louise Imogen Guiney’s friends such as Alice Brown. Most materials are correspondence but there are also newspaper clippings, poem manuscripts, pamphlets and other ephemeral materials. Materials date from 1885 to 1980 with the majority dating from 1920 to 1955. This subgroup is arranged in three series: Alice Brown; Grace Guiney and Other Associates. The next subgroup is the Guiney Memorial Collection and it holds records pertaining to the Guiney Family Papers collection and the Guiney Memorial Room in Dinand Library. The majority is correspondence regarding the establishment and maintenance of the collection. There is also Fr. Earls’ correspondence. Also included in the subgroup are inventories, donor lists and bibliographies.

The Patrick Guiney subgroup primarily holds his correspondence including the letters he and his wife, Jennie exchanged while he was fighting with the 9th Massachusetts Volunteers during the Civil War. This correspondence dates from 1859 to 1877 with the bulk dating from 1861 to 1864, the years he served with the Union Army. In these letters, Guiney gives descriptions of various campaigns as well as daily life with his regiment. They give a glimpse into his family life and are poignant testimony of the tenderness and love expressed by a man for his family during wartime. All of his correspondence has been digitized and is available on CrossWorks, the Holy Cross Institutional Repository. Other items in this subgroup include Guiney’s regimental commissions, scrapbooks, speeches and newspaper clippings.

Finally, the Three-Dimensional Objects subgroup holds objects and mementos belonging to Louise and Patrick Guiney. It is divided into two series: Louise Imogen Guiney and Patrick Guiney. Highlights in this subgroup includes a John Keats Life Mask, a pair of Louise’s signature eyeglasses, rosaries, a tea set and a belt buckle from Patrick’s Union Army uniform.


  • 1861-1999
  • Majority of material found within 1890-1920


Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

Materials believed to be under copyright or other restrictions are available for limited noncommercial, educational and personal use only, or for fair use as defined by United States copyright law and with proper citation. Please note that the College of the Holy Cross may not hold the rights to all items in this collection. Users assume responsibility for identifying all copyright holders and for determining whether permission is needed to make any use of the content. For permission under rights held by the College, please contact

Biographical Note

Patrick Guiney was born in Ireland in 1835 and he immigrated to the United States with his family, settling in Maine. He attended the College of the Holy Cross but left after one year due to financial difficulties. Later, he studied law and opened a practice in Boston. In 1859, Guiney married Jeannette “Jennie” Margaret Doyle, with whom he had two children. When the Civil War began, he left his law practice and enlisted as a private with the 9th Massachusetts Volunteers, a regiment raised in Boston. He eventually was promoted to Colonel and led his regiment in campaigns fought primarily in Virginia. At the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864, he was seriously wounded in the eye and soon after was honorably discharged from service. He entered politics after the war and following an unsuccessful run for Congress, Guiney served as Assistant District Attorney and Registrar of the Probate Court in Suffolk County Massachusetts. Guiney never fully recovered from his eye injury and died at the age of 42 in 1877.

Louise Imogen Guiney, daughter of Patrick and Jennie Guiney, was born on January 7, 1861 in Roxbury, Massachusetts. She attended Elmhurst Academy of the Sacred Heart, an all-girl Catholic school in Providence, Rhode Island. As a young adult, Guiney decided to pursue a literary career and her first book was published when she was 23 years old. Due to the early death of her father, Guiney needed to help support her family financially and held a variety of jobs throughout her adult life while continuing her literary career. Notably, she worked as a postmistress in Auburndale and as a cataloger at the Boston Public Library.

Guiney is best known as a poet but she also wrote essays and biographies. Her first book, Songs at the Start was a book of poetry and was published in 1884. Shortly after, her work was published in well known magazines such as Harper’s and Atlantic Monthly. She became well connected within Boston's literary, publishing and bohemian communities. Her circle included well-known figures such as Alice Brown, Annie Fields, Sarah Orne Jewett and Fred Holland Day.

Guiney spent the majority of the last twenty years of her life abroad after moving to England in 1901. Most of her time was devoted to researching her final book, Recusant Poets. Recusants were English Catholics, who refused to attend services of the Church of England after it separated from papal authority in the 16th century. Guiney died before this manuscript was completed. Her collaborator, Rev. Geoffery Bliss, SJ continued working on the project and Recusant Poets was finally published in 1938, eighteen years after Guiney's death. Bliss insisted only Guiney’s name should appear on the title page.

Grace Guiney was born in December 1890 and was the first cousin of Louise Imogen Guiney. Her father, William Haverland Guiney was the youngest brother of Patrick Guiney and married later in life. This accounts for the large age difference between the cousins. Grace and her sister moved to England to live with Louise after the death of their parents. Grace was the executor of Louise’s estate and played an integral role in the establishment of the Guiney Family Collection at Holy Cross.


29.33 Cubic Feet (49 document boxes, 4 record cartons, 14 flat boxes)

Language of Materials


Acquisition Note

Unlike many archival collections, this collection does not have a single provenance; instead, pieces were donated to Holy Cross by many different people over a period of years. Most of the donations were given to the college between 1921 and 1965. Rev. Michael Earls, SJ was responsible for initiating the collection’s formation. It is believed Fr. Earls became acquainted with Louise Imogen Guiney when he was a student at Holy Cross in the 1890s. He was the editor of the college’s literary magazine, The Purple, in 1896, the same year in which Louise Imogen Guiney wrote a biographical essay about her father for the publication.

After her death in 1920, Fr. Earls, a faculty member at his alma mater, began soliciting materials pertaining to the Guiney Family to be deposited in Dinand Library. The majority of the collection was donated to the college by Grace Guiney, the executor of Louise Imogen Guiney’s estate. This was not a single donation and pieces were donated at various times. Friends and acquaintances of Guiney also donated materials to the collection. The Guiney Associates and the Guiney Memorial Collection subgroups contain correspondence and other documentation pertaining to these donations. After Fr. Earls’ death in 1937, Holy Cross librarians such as Iriving McDonald and Rev. William Lucey, SJ continued to steward the collection. This led to the creation of the Guiney Memorial Room on the first floor of Dinand Library where the collection was initially stored.

The collection was transferred to the Archives and Distinctive Collections after the department was established in the 1960s. While the collection is no longer growing at the same rate, recent additions include the Minnie O’Brien Correspondence and the J.R. Tutin Correspondence.

Books and other publications were donated in addition to manuscript materials. These items can be found in the Guiney Rare Book Collection, which also is housed in the Archives and Distinctive Collections. The book collection may be searched using the libraries’ online catalog.

Related Materials

See the Rev. Michael Earls, S.J. Papers, Rev. William Lucey, S.J. Papers, and RG14.04 Library Records for more information about the formation of the collection and the Guiney Memorial Room in Dinand Library.

The Guiney Rare Book Collection may be searched using the library catalog and has been designated with the location “Spec. Coll. Guiney.”

The correspondence in the Patrick Guiney subgroup has been digitized and may be found on CrossWorks.

Note about Description

Louise Imogen Guiney’s initials LIG are used throughout the finding aid.

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
Revised 2020-2021

Repository Details

Part of the Distinctive Collections Repository

One College Street
Worcester MA 01610