Brenda Connolly (1911-1993) was the sole child of athlete-journalist-author James Brendan Connolly and Elizabeth Hurley Connolly, both of South Boston, Massachusetts. She lived her entire life in the Boston area and died under tragic circumstances that led to a criminal investigation and arrest. Throughout her adult life, she attended to her father’s literary legacy.
BRENDA E CONNOLLY AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS
Colby benefactor James Augustine Healy, a personal friend and admirer of James Brendan Connolly’s life and work, began his correspondence with Connolly’s daughter Brenda after the writer’s death in 1957. Healy had established a major rare book collection of Irish and Irish-American literature at Colby in 1948, beginning with a donation of Connolly first editions. He encouraged Brenda to contribute her father’s letters, manuscripts, books and memorabilia to Colby as a means toward preserving his legacy. She agreed to transfer the materials to Colby starting in the late 1950s.
By the mid 1970s, Healy had become extremely frustrated and disillusioned about the college’s lack of proper attention, in his view, to the extensive and rich Healy Collection. He called Brenda in January 1975 to report the death of his beloved wife and to urge her to withdraw her father’s materials from Colby. While Healy had already withdrawn some of his donations and transferred them to Stanford University, his death in July 1975 prevented any action on her part.
Early in 1976, Brenda wrote to President Strider, inquiring about the Connolly Collection. She visited Colby that June and spent time with Special Collections Librarian Fraser Cocks, President Strider and Dean Marriner, who had written articles on her father’s life and work. She departed from Waterville reassured that the Connolly materials were being well cared for and utilized. She remarked to Cocks that she did not understand why Mr Healy had become so upset.
It is noted that three important points of contention, from Healy’s perspective, had been resolved between the time of his death and the Colby visit by Brenda: Richard Cary retired as Curator in 1975; the Connolly Collection was relocated from the Robinson Room to the Healy Room in the spring of 1976 in accordance with Healy’s long-held, expressed wishes; and, an analytical catalogue for the entire Healy Collection was in progress. The catalogue was ultimately published with college funds in 1978. Relations between Brenda Connolly and Colby College remained cordial from that point on.
Brenda E Connolly donor file. Colby College Special Collections.
Colby Library Quarterly. Waterville, ME: Colby College Library. Print and web.
Kahn, Ric. “Super gets his walking papers Hemenway owner moves to evict.” Boston Globe. 7 November 1993. Web. 31 March 2015.
Kahn, Ric. “Super problems at Hotel Hemenway Live-in superintendent has 3-page, 11-year rap sheet.” Boston Globe. 31 October 1993. Web. 31 March 2015.
Report of the Special Collections Librarian, 1975-1976. Colbiana Collection. Colby College Special Collections.