Boston Gas Company, Illuminations

The Boston Gas Company archives constitute a collection of documents, memorabilia and photographs dating from the company’s founding in 1822 until recent times. Housed at Boston College’s Burns Library, perhaps the collection’s most impressive aspect is the collection of photographs, hundreds of which date from the dawn of photography, and which provided the inspiration for the book, “Illuminations.”

As an end-of-century, pre-merger gift to its current and retired employees, Boston Gas funded the production of a hard cover book telling the story of the company that literally laid the foundation for much of what is modern Boston. But the story holds much more. The photograph backgrounds capture a city emerging from the era of oil light, while the text traces the social and economic progressions of a predominantly immigrant working class as is moves from the sidelines to center stage in America.