Westfield State University Archives
Collection Guide for
Catherine B. Shannon Collection, 1979-1991
Catherine B. Shannon grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. She began work at Westfield State College in September, 1967 in the History Department. She moved to Westfield and began teaching Irish History courses during her time at the university. She developed the Irish American Studies Program for the College in the 1980’s. This multi-disciplinary program taught students and community-members courses on Irish history, Irish language, Northern Ireland history, British History, Irish music and literature as well.
Catherine was educated at the University of Toronto where she earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree. She next attended University College, Dublin, National University of Ireland where she earned her Master of Arts Degree. She earned her Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts. Her dissertation topic was “Arthur James Balfour and the Irish Question, 1874.”
Catherine spent a great deal of time in Ireland. She lived there and worked there as well, while pursuing her post-doctoral studies. She developed many contacts in Ireland that were helpful for organizing a lecture series for the Irish American Studies Program.
Catherine B. Shannon and Catherine A. Dower worked together to bring Irish Classical music to Western Massachusetts. In December or 1981. Catherine A. Dower traveled to Ireland to obtain manuscript copies of composer’s works such as Seoirse Bodley, Aloys Fleischmann, Brian Boydell, A.J. Potter, and Gerard Victory. The concert was held in December of 1981 and Westfield State College Chorale sang at this successful event. The Chorale performed the Irish Music program at Westfield State College and
Dr. Shannon was instrumental in bringing an Honors Program to Westfield State College in 1987. She worked tirelessly with Dr. Ann Raia, a consultant from the College of New Rochelle, New York to bring a quality Honors Program to Westfield State. Dr. Raia came to Westfield to talk about the Honors Program. She visited campus and held workshops for faculty and met with members of the administration. The Honors Program started small and has grown to the program that we know today.
In 1982, Dr. Shannon organized the first Symposium on Northern Ireland that brought Irish and British representatives together to discuss the political issues of the time. The event was held at the J.F. Kennedy Library in Boston. There were three symposiums held over the years and these events lead the way for peace in Northern Ireland.
In 1994 Dr. Shannon received an award from the Charitable Irish Society for her work as an organizer for peace for Northern Ireland. Also in 1994 Dr. Shannon received the annual achievement award from the Irish Immigration Center of Boston. She served as President of the Charitable Irish Society which was founded in 1737. She had been a member of the society beginning in 1985 and she also served on their board of directors.
In 1997 Dr. Shannon won the Phi Kappa Phi Lecture Series Competition with her essay “The Changing Face of Cathleen Ni Houlihan: The Status of Women in Ireland, 1960 to 1996.”
In 2015 Dr. Shannon was awarded a gold medal citation from the Eire Society of Boston. This citation was awarded for the accomplishments for those who exemplify the best in Irish culture and ideals.
Dr. Shannon retired from Westfield State College in 2000. She is now Emerita Professor of History.
There are two groups of documents in this collection. The first set documents the Honors Program at Westfield State College from 1987 – 1991. The second collection of documents records the history of the Irish American Studies Program from 1979-1982. They were donated in December of 2000 by Dr. Shannon. There are 11 file folders of documents in this collection. Included are reports, program proposals, correspondence, grant evaluation documents as well as letters of appreciation for the Irish American Studies Program. The correspondence is between Dr. Shannon and the people who taught in the program, consultants, and speakers.
The bulk of this collection is arranged by date.
Catherine A. Dower Collection,
Shannon, Catherine B., 1938 – Women – Education (Higher) ; Women in higher education ; Education – United States
Folder 16: Honors Ideas, 1987-1989
Folder 17: Honors Ideas, 1989
Folder 18: Honors Ideas, 1989
Folder 19: Honors Ideas, 1989-1991
Folder 20: Honors Ideas, 1991
Folder 21: Irish Studies Program, 1980, Proposal and Abstract
Folder 22: Irish Studies Program, Grant Evaluation Materials, 1981-1982
Folder 23: Irish Heritage Program, Lecture Series, 1980-1981
Folder 24: Irish Music Events, Joe Heaney, Irish Symphony Program, December, 1981
Folder 25: Louis Marcus/C.B.S., Heritage of Ireland Series, 1979-1981
Folder 26: Report on Irish American Studies Program, October 1980 – March 1982