The Women of the College Faculty Program

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, as of 2016, 44% of full time college faculty were women. While we still have a long way to go to create an academic culture that is free of discrimination and sexism, it is important to appreciate how far we have come. Eleanor F. Dolan’s Papers gives us a glimpse into the struggle women across the country endured while trying to become faculty members in the 1960s.

Eleanor F. Dolan was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1907. After receiving her B.A. from Wellesley College and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Radcliffe College, she started a long career focused on women’s rights and higher education. After being a professor 12 years, Dr. Dolan joined the staff of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) as a specialist for higher education. In 1967 she joined the federal government as a Specialist for Graduate Academic Programs in the Bureau of Higher Education. She was executive secretary of the national Council of Administrative Women in Education, participated in many local organizations, and was a founder of the Women’s Equity Action League.

While Dolan was a part of the AAUW from 1950 to 1967, the organization focused on women and graduate school. With the increase of students (women and men alike) going to college in the 1950s, the organization wanted to support the education of more faculty members. Their College Faculty Program, started in 1959, gave women financial assistance to pursue higher education and future careers in professorship. Specifically for “mature women” (those 35 or over) looking to be full time students, the program gave scholarship winners one to three full years of tuition.

The goals and mission of the College Faculty Program

The folders containing the information on the AAUW and the College Faculty Program offer only a glimpse into the over 100 women’s lives that were changed with this program:

One participant “expressed her delight to ‘find that she is capable of productive mental life though over 50,’” while another suggested that “you continue this wonderful program and encourage others to further their education.”

However, beside the glowing reviews and reports of straight A’s, the documents reflect the obstacles women (especially ‘older’ women) faced when considering higher education instead of being traditional homemakers. Here’s a sample application form:

 

As you can see in the scholarship application, questions about husband’s occupation, ages of children, and the plans about the family are prioritized on page 1, while page 2 and 3 ask about the woman’s personal achievements and interests. The health statement page of the application focuses on their physical ability to carry on a full year’s educational program, especially in her ‘old’ age of 35.

This application offers two different points of view- 1. The view of the AAUW, who want to find applicants who are fit enough to finish the program, and 2. The view of the applicants, who, through the questionnaire, are being encouraged to think first about what their educational journey will mean for their family and then if they are prepared to become faculty members. I wonder if men were ever asked about how their educational careers affect their family.

Scholarship winners’ testimonies also describe the difficulties of being responsible for taking care of the home on top of being a full-time student, and the feelings that come with restarting school after some time away.

Beyond giving money to students, the program also conducted surveys asking universities and colleges about their opinions and policies regarding admission, financial aid, counseling, and employment for ‘mature women’. This shows how focused the AAUW was in fighting institutional sexism and discrimination, along with the importance of offering a variety of masters degrees, and encouraging them to accept more women who are older than the typical candidate. The 44% of women employed as faculty members could thank the AAUW for pressuring universities to think about how their policies fought against women in academia, and could thank the women in the College Faculty program for showing that they can be dedicated, amazing graduate students while still being women.


Emily is a Graduate Assistant at the WLA and is in her second year in the joint Public History/Library Information Science program with Loyola University Chicago and Dominican University. She enjoys going on long walks with her puppy, visiting cool museums, and cheering on the White Sox during baseball season.

 


Loyola University Chicago’s Women and Leadership Archives Blog is designed to provide a positive environment for the Loyola community to discuss important issues and ideas. Differences of opinion are encouraged. We invite comments in response to posts and ask that you write in a civil and respectful manner. All comments will be screened for tone and content and must include the first and last name of the author and a valid email address. The appearance of comments on the blog does not imply the University’s endorsement or acceptance of views expressed.

 

A Few of My Favorite Things: Kate’s Top Collections

Over the course of my two years at the Women and Leadership Archives (WLA) I’ve had the privilege to work with a lot of the collections we hold. From academics, artists, homemakers, social justice activists, women religious, nurses, politicians, business leaders – almost any vocation or subject you could name we’ve got a collection in which a woman or group of women were involved and rocking at it. Though I’ve yet to come across a collection that didn’t engage me, I have to admit that I have my favorites. What follows is my “hit parade” of my favorite collections at the WLA:

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A Haunting of the BVMs

With the start of October comes many changes; cozy sweaters, hot chocolate, pumpkin spice, and, of course, Halloween.  There is nothing more appropriate for this month than a good scary story, and luckily, here at the WLA we have one in our very own collection! There is an account told by Sister Mary Ernestine, BVM* of stories she heard from Sister Isabella Kane** of strange happenings experienced by her and other sisters. Here is that story:

Sister Isabella Kane was about fourteen years old when she entered the BVM Community and having experience with piano, she was sent to teach music. She was a natural and enjoyed her time teaching, but especially loved painting in the music room after night prayers when it was empty. One night Sister was painting when the door suddenly flew open. Thinking it was one of the sisters trying to mess with her, she paid it no mind and shut the door. She settled down to continue painting when the door flew open again. After checking the hallway and finding it empty, she ran to bed.

Mother Superior Mary Isabella Kane, BVM

That wasn’t the last time Sister Isabella would experience strange occurrences.

Sister Isabella and the other sisters rented a large three story double house to be used as a school as well as house the sisters. The sisters living in the convent complained of noises: banging on doors, knocking of wooden beds, and other demonstrations of what they believed was “the Evil One.”

One sister was thrown off her bed, another was unable to control violent trembling as night approached, and one more found as she headed down the stairs, two fireballs appeared in the landing. Though the superior was not convinced of any haunting (and believed it to be all coming from the sisters’ active imaginations), she agreed to move from that home for everyone’s health.

Though we have no way to be sure if it truly was “the Evil One” haunting the sisters, the mystery still persists. So Happy Halloween everyone, hope it’s a spooky one!

*BVM stands for Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a religious order out of Dubuque, IA.

**Sister Isabella later served as Mother Superior of the BVMs from 1919-1931.


Tina Figueroa is a Sesquicentennial Scholar at the WLA working to highlight Mundelein in the upcoming 150th anniversary of Loyola. She is currently working on her masters degree in Digital Humanities. Tina is a reformed ice cream hater and is a fan of the flavor Savannah Buttermint at Jeni’s.

 

 


Loyola University Chicago’s Women and Leadership Archives Blog is designed to provide a positive environment for the Loyola community to discuss important issues and ideas. Differences of opinion are encouraged. We invite comments in response to posts and ask that you write in a civil and respectful manner. All comments will be screened for tone and content and must include the first and last name of the author and a valid email address. The appearance of comments on the blog does not imply the University’s endorsement or acceptance of views expressed.


 

Virginia Piper: More Than A Donor

Piper Hall, 2005

Many visitors to Loyola’s campus and Piper Hall, where the WLA is located, are amazed by the beautiful white marble mansion and its incredible location on the shores of Lake Michigan. We are always answering questions about the history of the building as a home and as a library for Mundelein College. However, we do not often talk about how the house got its current name.

Like most buildings on university campuses, Piper Hall was given its name by important donors. In this case, Virginia Galvin Piper donated funds to Mundelein College and had the building named after her late husband, Kenneth Piper. The building was later renamed the Virginia G. and Kenneth M. Piper Hall in honor of the couple.

I myself had not given much thought to who these people were, until I came across several files in the Mundelein College collection containing correspondence, informational pamphlets, and a book written to share the life and legacy of Virginia G. Piper. In this book, I found a story more enthralling and inspiring than I ever imagined.

The story of Virginia Piper is intertwined with the story of Chicago. It has more human drama and heartache than a novel. There is romance, tragedy, transformation, and even a mysterious unsolved murder. Lucky for you, the text of the book, Devotedly Virginia, has also been put into a lovely website where you can read all of the challenges and triumphs of Virginia and the many individuals who shaped her life. Trust me, it is much more interesting than you might think.

In this post, I would like to share some of the highlights of the story and add details about Virginia Piper’s relationship with Mundelein College and her deep friendship with the college’s longtime president, Sister Ann Ida Gannon.

Portrait of Virginia, 1965

Born in 1911, Virginia grew up with humble roots and a loving family. Her close relationships with her mother, her sister, her grandmother, and many female friends shaped the woman she became. As a young woman, she worked hard to help her parents through the Great Depression and did not marry until she was 33. This first marriage, to Motorola founder and public figure Paul Galvin, transformed her life. Along with love and happiness, the union led to Virginia’s conversion to Catholicism and her introduction to the world of philanthropy. When Paul died in 1959, Virginia chose to take control of the Paul V. Galvin Charitable Trust. This began her forty-year career as a philanthropist.

Virginia took her new position seriously. She met with bankers, stockbrokers, and financial advisors to learn everything she could about the job ahead of her. Her active involvement in every aspect of her charitable giving was unique at that time, especially for a woman.

According to Virginia’s biography, the remarkable woman’s relationship with Mundelein College began with a phone call to another remarkable woman, college president Sister Ann Ida Gannon, in 1964. Virginia likely saw Mundelein as a perfect fit for charitable gifts, as it shared the late Paul Galvin’s dedication to education and faith. The first gift recorded in the Mundelein records is a $300,000 donation to build a 350-seat auditorium in the college’s new Learning Resource Center. The Paul V. Galvin Memorial Hall was dedicated on October 30, 1969. At this event, Virginia introduced her friends at Mundelein to Kenneth Piper, a longtime friend and vice president of Motorola. The couple had fallen in love and were married later that year.

Galvin Hall Dedication

In 1972, it was announced that Virginia planned to give $300,000 to set up a scholarship endowment to provide full tuition scholarships to top students. The Mundelein records hold a number of letters Galvin Scholars wrote to Virginia updating her on their successes and thanking her for the role she played in their education.

 

 

Galvin Scholarship news, 1972

Even in times of personal transition, Virginia remembered Mundelein College. When she and Ken bought a home in Arizona where they would live most of the year, letters show that she gave her dining room furniture and Oriental rug to the college.

 

Mundelein recognized Virginia’s contributions to the college and many other causes by giving her an Honorary Degree at the 1974 Commencement ceremony. On June 8, a memorial mass was held for Paul Galvin in Galvin Hall before the Pipers and their friends attended the Commencement where Virginia was honored. Many letters from Virginia, Ken, and other friends describe the special day and the gratitude they felt for the experience.

Honorary degree letter, 1974

Ken Piper was a great supporter of Virginia’s work. Letters between Virginia and Sr. Ann Ida reveal that Ken worked “so diligently and hopefully” on plans for a Women’s Executive Institute at Mundelein that he would support. Unfortunately, Ken passed away suddenly in January of 1975 before these plans could be realized. Sr. Ann Ida flew to Arizona as soon as she could and stayed by Virginia’s side for 10 days to help her through the difficult time, a testament to their strong bond.

Virginia lived another 24 years after losing her second husband and dedicated the rest of her life to her work. Just eight months after Ken’s death, Virginia returned to Mundelein College for the dedication of the Kenneth M. Piper Hall, Center for the Study of Religious Education.

Virginia continued to give to Mundelein for scholarships and other projects. After the affiliation with Loyola, she took great interest in the plans for a women’s center to carry on Mundelein’s legacy. She was one of the first donors to the Gannon Center for Women and Leadership and continued to give generously to the project that was named after her dear friend.

Gannon donation letter, 1993

Virginia Piper and Sr. Ann Ida continued their friendship through letters, phone calls, and frequent visits until Virginia’s death in 1999. Her last gifts and those given by the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust after her death went towards renovations to Piper Hall. At the rededication of the white mansion by the lake in 2004, the new home of the Gannon Center and Women and Leadership Archives was renamed to reflect the generosity of both Virginia and Kenneth Piper.

Over 50 years after she began supporting the education of women at Mundelein, Loyola students and the community are still benefiting from Virginia Piper’s contributions. Virginia did not attend Mundelein or grow up in the Catholic faith or have any other personal connections to the school. When looking for projects to support, she saw the potential and the value she was looking for in Mundelein College. And today, when we look at this woman who contributed so much to the growth of Mundelein College, we see someone who embodied the strength, leadership, compassion, and grace that the small Catholic women’s college strove to instill in each of its students.

Learn more about Virginia Galvin Piper’s life and philanthropic work through Devotedly, Virginia and The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, which continues her work. You can also learn more about her relationship to Sr. Ann Ida Gannon and Mundelein College at the Women and Leadership Archives.

You can tour Piper Hall yourself during Open House Chicago on October 13, 2018!


Caroline Lynd Giannakopoulos is a Project Archivist at the WLA currently processing the Mundelein College Records. She is a graduate of the Public History Masters Program at Loyola University of Chicago.

 

 


Loyola University Chicago’s Women and Leadership Archives Blog is designed to provide a positive environment for the Loyola community to discuss important issues and ideas. Differences of opinion are encouraged. We invite comments in response to posts and ask that you write in a civil and respectful manner. All comments will be screened for tone and content and must include the first and last name of the author and a valid email address. The appearance of comments on the blog does not imply the University’s endorsement or acceptance of views expressed.


 

The Chicago 7 and the Historical Significance of the Jean Fritz Journals

Posters from the Chicago 7 protests.

The Democratic National Convention in August 1968 brought protesters and politicians into conflict over American ideals and policy. Several of the most infamous demonstrators, the Chicago 7, stood trial in late 1968 for their theatrical protest and possible lawbreaking.  One local woman, Jean Fritz, participated on the jury. Her journals are a “unique testament to a unique moment in American history. They are also the record of one woman’s struggle with the ideas of justice, democracy and her own role as a citizen” (Chicago Tribune).

The public can access the court transcripts from the Chicago 7 trial. But the real value of Jean Fritz’s journals are in the perspective they offer. Not just their insight into the events of the trial, but on how the case served as a kind of microcosm of the ideological and generational clashes that were happening in the U.S. during the period. The conservative, “big brother” elements came into conflict with the oppositely radical, counter-culture movement. Fritz sat somewhere in the middle of all of this, as an “average” American: a mother and homemaker from a moderate sized community, rather removed from the riots. Like most Americans and residents of the Chicagoland region, she was likely aware of the events surrounding the National Convention through the newspaper and television. As a juror, Fritz suddenly found herself thrust into a unique position where she became, over the course of the trial, a frontline witness to this clash. What she sees and hears caused her to think more deeply about the state of the country and the progression of society. She saw the concerns, merits, and problems, with each group’s ideas. Fritz wrestled with the tension of figuring out how she felt and thought about all of it; all the while, she dealt with the strain of being sequestered away from her family and home.

These journals are rich with opportunity. Scholars can now examine the trial from a previously unexplored perspective. Authors and moviemakers have produced numerous books and films based on both the court transcripts and the reflections of the defendants and key witnesses. However, until now, there has not been an examination of the jurors and their experiences. There are many ways to learn about this historic event and the key figures involved. In these journals, Fritz represents the sentiments of the many Americans who were less directly involved the ideological conflict of the period. It is an opportunity to understand just how impactful the actions and rhetoric of the so-called movers and shakers were in convincing their fellow citizens of the rightness of their causes.

The Edgewater Historical Society.

You can read more about Fritz’s journals in the Chicago Tribune article from August 25, 2018.

 

 

 

 


Kate is a former Graduate Assistant of the WLA and graduated in 2018 with her M.A. in Public History from Loyola University Chicago. A Colorado gal, she recently returned to her home state and began an archives position at the University of Northern Colorado. She enjoys classic films, bike riding, and all things museums.

 


Loyola University Chicago’s Women and Leadership Archives Blog is designed to provide a positive environment for the Loyola community to discuss important issues and ideas. Differences of opinion are encouraged. We invite comments in response to posts and ask that you write in a civil and respectful manner. All comments will be screened for tone and content and must include the first and last name of the author and a valid email address. The appearance of comments on the blog does not imply the University’s endorsement or acceptance of views expressed.


Throwback Thursday: VHS Edition

I started at the WLA in January as an undergraduate volunteer intern and was very happy to be asked to stay into this summer as well. I am now going into my senior year and my work in the archive has taught me a lot about how history can be much more recent than I may have once thought.

For the past several months I have been working on processing a collection from the Cook County Treasurer, Maria Pappas. Maria Pappas has been a part of Cook County government since the early 1990s and started off that Cook County-based career with a PhD in counseling and psychology from our very own Loyola University Chicago. Pappas’ longevity in office has been documented not only in news articles, but in TV and radio appearances, which, wouldn’t you know it, have been preserved on VHS, a novelty for this 21 year old intern. Like many bygone technologies, like the CD player, Walkman, Nokia phones, and even an original iPhone, I thought VHS and audio cassettes were a thing of the past that would never cross my path again. Imagine my surprise when the first box that I went through from Maria Pappas’ donation contained nothing but VHS tapes, and not only that, but they were still watchable!

Although I knew what archives involved, in my imagination it always meant that I would be carefully handling decades, if not centuries old, journals and pictures. With this idea in mind, going through VHS tapes and CDs, objects from my childhood that now seem far outdated, has shifted my perspective of archives, and of history as a whole. With Maria Pappas’ progression through her career, the technology used to preserve her experience also progresses and changes, shifting from U-Matic tapes, cassettes, and VHS to CDs and MCRW discs. Being able to physically see a progression of time, not only in the contents of these media forms, but also in the media forms themselves adds another level to the understanding of how quickly history and technology can change. Most notably, it was surprising to come across technologies in the Pappas collection that I knew nothing about, like U-Matic tapes and MCRW discs. These technologies evolved and became outdated quickly, and were used in such small niches that their usefulness was quickly replaced by another form of technology.

Media found in the Maria Pappas papers.

Media found in the Maria Pappas papers.

With the physical evidence of the longevity of Maria Pappas’ career in front of me in these different types of multimedia, actually going through the documentation and reading about her career and outreach programs over the years made the extent of her career seem more emphasized. Maria Pappas began as a member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners in 1990, then ran for Cook County Treasurer in 1998, a position she has held since then, and is the current incumbent for. Maria Pappas is credited with reorganizing the Cook County Treasurer’s office, which had been losing checks and improperly documenting interactions and notices for years before Maria Pappas was elected to the position.

After organizing the Cook County Treasurer’s office, Maria Pappas began her Treasurer’s Outreach Program and Services, in which she published property tax brochures in several languages and reached out to many different cultural communities in Chicago and the surrounding areas in order to make property tax payment information more accessible. Cook County is an incredibly diverse area and one that has $12 billion in property taxes collected annually. With this diversity in mind, Maria Pappas has ensured that she has efficiently informed all of the community members, displaying her understanding of the importance of progress and helping people in what some may see as atypical ways. Her impressive career and record is well documented, on paper, on VHS, and online, displaying the progression of a well-rounded career, as well as the advancement of technology and the advancement a community along with that career.


Amela Kalezic is an intern at the WLA and has been working with the Cook County Treasurer, Maria Pappas’ collection. She is an undergraduate majoring in History and Environmental Science at Loyola and is an avid dog lover who sadly does not have one of her own yet, but will not let you walk past a cute one without letting you know.

 


Loyola University Chicago’s Women and Leadership Archives Blog is designed to provide a positive environment for the Loyola community to discuss important issues and ideas. Differences of opinion are encouraged. We invite comments in response to posts and ask that you write in a civil and respectful manner. All comments will be screened for tone and content and must include the first and last name of the author and a valid email address. The appearance of comments on the blog does not imply the University’s endorsement or acceptance of views expressed.


Mundelein College and Prince the Collie

 

The Art Deco Skyscraper building under construction in 1930.

Mundelein College was founded in the same year that the stock market crashed. In 1929, while the American economy was crumbling, Mundelein College and its unique home, the Mundelein skyscraper, was rising. It took an indomitable person to see that it was done, and the college’s co-founder, Sister Justicia Coffey, BVM, was just such an individual. Sister Justicia had a vision which included a superior Catholic education for young modern urban women. The skyscraper was the setting for that vision, but Sister Justicia knew that an excellent education required exceptional teachers. Sister Justicia approached the construction of both the building and the faculty with equal vigor and procured whatever either task demanded. While blueprints and the careful inspection of steel beams were imperative for the building, the teachers required a rapid accumulation of graduate degrees and for the elevation of their spirits, Prince, a tri-color collie.

This summer, my colleague, Nathan Ellstrand and I have been building “Voices from Mundelein,” a web media portal which highlights the staff, alumnae, and faculty of Mundelein College. It includes oral histories which feature the earliest years of Mundelein College. In her rich oral history, long-time Mundelein faculty member, Sister Irma Corcoran reflects fondly on memories as wide ranging as Sister Justicia Coffey’s unique style of leadership and the college’s pet collie, Prince.

In her 1997 audio interview, Sister Irma Corcoran, BVM, claims that she was a member of the college community for the entirety of Mundelein’s sixty-one year existence. Sister Irma arrived as a faculty candidate in 1929 when the skyscraper was dedicated and left in 1991 when Mundelein affiliated with Loyola University Chicago. She recalls that Sister Justicia created a significant portion of her coterie of faculty members by gathering young novitiates of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) who had completed college degrees, a rare commodity indeed. She then sent them to distinguished universities to complete their graduate studies with an injunction to return to Mundelein and disseminate their new-found knowledge. Sister Irma was one of those novitiates. She was sent to Columbia University to study English, one of the few women, and the only sister in the student body. Ultimately Sister Irma returned, taught, and became a renowned Milton scholar.

When Sister Irma first arrived, the skyscraper was not yet completed and she and her fellow graduate school headed novitiates were quartered in what she calls “the little green house” next door. As did all of the founding faculty members, Sister Irma wore many hats and in addition to teaching, she served as a general porteress for the college. She brokered purchases from coal to eggs and dealt with contractors, visiting clergy, and what she calls insistent BELLS. She especially remembers her fellow porter of the canine variety, Prince. Sister Irma reports that the black and white collie pup had a bark that “would intimidate an army.” Prince took his responsibilities seriously, and guarded the little green house assiduously. One time, Sister Irma recalls, he barked “terribly” and she went to the front door and found the postman pinned to the porch railing with his heels in the air.

Photos of Prince are featured prominently in the Mundelein College Yearbook of 1931.

Guarding the porch was not Prince’s only function, it can be inferred from Sister Irma’s interview that he walked the sisters each day after breakfast, in the company of Sister Justicia Coffey. Sister Justicia made it a point to get acquainted with each new novitiate and the latest to arrive was always the chosen companion for the daily morning walk. They would walk the city streets from Kenmore to Rosemont to Sheridan, and finish by looking over the lake and then turn toward the skyscraper which Sister Justicia inspected with a gimlet eye assessing the days’ construction. Often, Sister Irma recalls, Justicia would chat with the workers, whom she knew by name, inquiring about orders and making suggestions.

Sister Irma’s memories conjure up the image of two habited sisters, one middle aged the other, young, pausing on a Chicago street corner, engaged in deep conversation, perhaps about construction, teaching, or the persistent BELL with Prince tugging at his lead, distracted by the prospect of the postman’s anticipated daily arrival. Sister Irma reveals that Justicia understood the importance of foundations whether they were made of steel or of individual characters. She knew that both required a detailed understanding that springs from the constancy of daily rituals like a brisk morning walk with Prince.

An image of Prince guards the final page of the Mundelein College Yearbook of 1932.

 

More information about Sister Justicia Coffey and Mundelein College is available online through the Loyola University Libraries Digital Special Collections or in person through a visit to the Loyola University Chicago Women and Leadership Archives.


Bruce, pictured here, is the current canine porter and guardian of the door for the author of this blog, Janette Clay. Besides being an inveterate daily walker, Janette is a PhD student in the department of history at Loyola University Chicago and member of the summer staff at the WLA.

 


Loyola University Chicago’s Women and Leadership Archives Blog is designed to provide a positive environment for the Loyola community to discuss important issues and ideas. Differences of opinion are encouraged. We invite comments in response to posts and ask that you write in a civil and respectful manner. All comments will be screened for tone and content and must include the first and last name of the author and a valid email address. The appearance of comments on the blog does not imply the University’s endorsement or acceptance of views expressed.


Acting Up: Mercedes McCambridge and Sister Mary Leola Oliver

Mercedes McCambridge pictured with Sister Mary Leola Oliver, B.V.M., in front of her awards.

The large majority of students at what is now Loyola University Chicago walk around the Mundelein Center for the Fine and Performing Arts without realizing its former significance as a Catholic women’s college, let alone the former training grounds of an Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning actress.  Indeed, the main building of what was once Mundelein College had a rich legacy of teaching students the fine and performing arts, including one such alumna, Mercedes McCambridge. McCambridge received formal acting training from Sister Mary Leola Oliver, B.V.M., who not only served as her teacher, but as a lifelong mentor in shaping her career as an actress.

This summer, my colleague Jenny Clay and I have been working on creating a web portal to showcase media featuring the reflections of Mundelein College alumnae, faculty, and staff from their time at the school.  As part of the research for this project, I had the opportunity to listen to an oral history that McCambridge recorded herself where she reminisced about the impact that Sister Mary Leola had on her.

McCambridge was born in the Chicago area in Joliet, Illinois in 1916.  She attended high school at St. Thomas Apostle School run by the Dominican Sisters on the South Side of Chicago.  The sisters wanted her to attend Rosary College (now Dominican University), where she spent her first year. Following an examination with Mundelein College instructor Sister Mary Leola, she entered the college after her freshman year.  

McCambridge recalls how sister demanded the best from her students as someone who knew theater inside and out.  The petite instructor with sparkling eyes and notes pinned to her blouse was an actress herself who had pride in Mundelein College.  Sister stressed the importance of diction and body movement in acting. She also knew everything about stage design. If sister saw herself in a particular role in a play had she been a student, she would make the student’s time in that position extremely difficult.  

Students Margaret Cleary (left) and Mercedes McCambridge perform as Genesius and Pappaea in The Comedian.

Sister Mary Leola came up with the concept of the Mundelein College Verse Speaking Choir.  Editors of the Chicago Daily News and Chicago Tribune would come up to campus, and were impressed by the choir.  NBC Radio heard about the group, inviting them to record one of their poems into microphones.  NBC signed the choir into a year contract with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. McCambridge, in particular, received a five year contract with the company as a result of her involvement in the Verse Speaking Choir.

Mercedes McCambridge posing for a radio stock picture for NBC.

McCambridge explains how her fame only grew from there.  She played roles in theater, film, and radio. The Chicago Tribune wrote that she was the best non-traditional interpreter of Shakespeare.  She claims her success not to be attributed to herself, but rather to sister.  When McCambridge won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in All the King’s Men, she sent the award to sister at Holy Family School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who had it on display at a local theater.

Mercedes McCambridge closes her oral history, owing her career to Sister Mary Leola Oliver.  Sister not only changed her life through Mundelein College, but made her life as an actress. McCambridge signs off by saying, “Thanks sister, Mundelein, God, and the listener.”

 

More information about Mercedes McCambridge is available online through the Loyola University Libraries Digital Special Collections or in person through a visit to the Loyola University Chicago Women and Leadership Archives to view her papers.


Nathan Ellstrand served as a summer staff at the Women and Leadership Archives during the summer of 2018.  He is a third year PhD student in United States History, interested in twentieth century U.S. political history with connections to Latin America.  Away from campus, Nathan enjoys eating (he’s a foodie!), traveling and riding his bike.

 


Loyola University Chicago’s Women and Leadership Archives Blog is designed to provide a positive environment for the Loyola community to discuss important issues and ideas. Differences of opinion are encouraged. We invite comments in response to posts and ask that you write in a civil and respectful manner. All comments will be screened for tone and content and must include the first and last name of the author and a valid email address. The appearance of comments on the blog does not imply the University’s endorsement or acceptance of views expressed.


Capturing a Moment: Sister Jean and the 2018 March Madness

Click image to link to article

March was a great month for the men’s basketball team, Loyola, and of course, Sister Jean. The Women and Leadership Archives holds a collection of Sister Jean’s papers from her career at Mundelein College*. You may have seen photos from Sister Jean’s Mundelein days that we shared on Facebook. While she’s been a celebrity at Loyola for many years, and most students, faculty, and staff have a Sister Jean story, her recent national (pardon me, international) fame created a whole new fan base far beyond our Chicago campuses.

Click image to link to article

This has been a fun and exciting time in Sister Jean’s legacy, which we want to remember and preserve. In order to capture these moments, I began collecting memorabilia and capturing digital content to add to the Sister Jean collection at the WLA. The work of preserving these memories continues, but here is a small sample of some of the fun Sister Jean souvenirs and stories collected so far.

Not enough Sister Jean for you? Check out these links to some select articles recapturing the magic:

“Before becoming face of Loyola Ramblers, Sister Jean helped women’s college through 1970s student protests” – Chicago Tribune

“Loyola-Chicago’s Sister Jean Becomes Exotic Darling of Final Four Prop Bets” – OG News

“Exclusive: Sister Jean Revealed to be a Villanova Fan” – The Villanovan student paper


Laura Berfield is the WLA Assistant Archivist and Programming Librarian at Loyola University Chicago Libraries. She’s a fan of neighborhood festivals, making travel plans, and all things pumpkin (hailing from the Pumpkin Capital of the World).

 

 


*Mundelein College, founded and operated by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM), provided education to women from 1930 until 1991, when it affiliated with Loyola University Chicago.

Loyola University Chicago’s Women and Leadership Archives Blog is designed to provide a positive environment for the Loyola community to discuss important issues and ideas. Differences of opinion are encouraged. We invite comments in response to posts and ask that you write in a civil and respectful manner. All comments will be screened for tone and content and must include the first and last name of the author and a valid email address. The appearance of comments on the blog does not imply the University’s endorsement or acceptance of views expressed.

What’s a Dink?

When my husband and I refer to ourselves as dinks and high five, we are celebrating the fact that our status as a “Double Income No Kids” household means we can spend a little more time and money on our current whims  and less worrying about finding affordable rent in a Chicago neighborhood with good schools (is this even possible?). When I found the term “dink” on an old green song sheet in the Mundelein College Records, I was pretty sure that the students of the 1940s meant something different.

This song sheet from the 1940 Freshman Initiation event features many songs referencing “dinks”.

The songs written and sung for a freshman initiation event hint at the meaning of “dink” and its significance in introducing new students to college life. However, a search of the Mundelein student newspaper, The Skyscraper, failed to bring up a single article giving me more information.

Naturally, I turned to Google to see if this strange term was used in other colleges of the time. I soon found many articles about an interesting tradition that I had never heard of.

Dinks Across the Country

A dink on the 20th century American college campus referred to a beanie cap, often green, worn by freshmen to distinguish them as the newbies. An article on the Penn State University website says that upperclassmen voted in 1906 to require freshmen to wear their dinks at all times on campus and at school events. Freshmen were expected to tip their green caps to upperclassmen and could be subjected to embarrassing hazing if caught without their dinks. Similar antics occurred at many schools in the East and Midwest. In most cases, women on co-ed campuses were not included in the dink tradition, at least at first. Female students at Penn State wore green ribbons in their hair before donning the dink with their male peers in 1954.

The Ohio State University Archives created a fun digital exhibit dedicated to the various freshman beanie traditions found in the colleges of the Big 10. In theory, the beanie was intended to promote school spirit and bonding among freshmen. However, it seems like the real bonding of Ohio State freshmen may have come more from a shared fear of being caught without your beanie by the group of juniors authorized by the Student Senate and the President of the University to throw beanie-less freshman into a nearby lake. It is obvious the beanie did not represent camaraderie to the wearers, as students gathered at the end of their freshman year for the annual “Cap Bonfire.”

In most cases, the cap customs came to an end in the 1960s. However, the tradition lives on in a more benevolent form at Hood College in Maryland. Each class at Hood is given a different color beanie so that the caps are used beyond the initiation period to proudly distinguish each graduating class.

At Hood College, junior students in yellow beanies welcome freshmen students of the class of 2020 by presenting them with blue beanies at the 2016 Convocation. Photo courtesy of Hood College.

 

Dinks at Mundelein

Finding details of the use of the “dink” at Mundelein College was more difficult than my Google search. Although I found a few signs of dinks and beanies being worn by freshmen, the scarcity of information leads me to believe that this was not a continuous tradition at Mundelein. I found a few photos of students wearing the little caps, often at freshman events. However, most photos of freshman picnics and orientations show bareheaded young ladies, so the requirement to wear the cap must have been a rare and unenforced ritual.

Analyzing the songs from 1940 gives us a good bit of information about what the dinks meant at that time. The green hats were worn at all times by the freshmen for some period of time at the beginning of their first semester. Freshmen were expected to give a salute when encountering upperclassmen and perform other tasks. Getting caught without your dink would cost you 2 cents. No wonder the freshmen are singing of how glad they are to remove their caps..

Members of Big Sisters chat at Mundelein College in the 1950s. Are the two students in beanies their freshmen “Little Sisters”?

Most references to the freshman beanie at Mundelein are in connection with the Big Sisters organization. The Big Sisters were nominated sophomores and juniors who took on the job of welcoming and mentoring the incoming freshman class, adopting “Little Sisters” to guide individually. Another song sheet from the Big Sister’s Mardi Gras Tea on February 25, 1941 refers to the green dinks that the “Freshies” wore in their first semester.

 

“Remember the days—
You were but Freshies green,
And dinks you wore
Which made you quite serene.
Freshies, then and still—
But now Sisters too,
My pledge I renew- faithful to you—
I give you my word.”

Whether or not the young pupils actually felt “serene” in their beanies, the records of the Big Sisters point to good intentions of the upperclassmen to use the beanies to identify and offer friendship to new students. An article in the Skyscraper from 1965 mentions that freshmen were given their “traditional red beanies” by the Big Sisters at a reception during orientation week. This description of the red beanie matches up with the one real piece of evidence we have that was recently donated to the collection. By this time, the beanies seem to be more about school spirit and a welcome to the community than about calling attention to the “greenness” of the freshies.

This felt “dink” in Mundelein College colors is the only one in the collection and was likely worn in the 1960s.

The top-ranking freshmen of 1966 pose in their Mundelein beanies. This is the only photo we have of a group of freshmen all wearing their caps.

I found one other way that the green dink impacted life on the Mundelein campus and it relates to the boys next door. From 1949 to 1961, freshmen students from Loyola University and Mundelein College came together at the beginning of the fall semester for a mixer they called the “Beanie Bounce.” The dance, sometimes hosted by Loyola and sometimes planned jointly by both student activities councils, officially introduced the new freshmen to their neighboring students. In early years of the dance, each Loyola boy would give his beanie to a Mundelein lady in the course of the night, but a Skyscraper article from 1960 describes how the game evolved over the years.

Loyola freshmen Joe Doody and Jim Whiting demonstrate the Beanie Bounce tradition, passing their green caps to Mundelein freshmen twins Rita and Louise Kozak at the 1953 dance.

A Skyscraper article from October 19, 1960 recounts the activities of the “Beanie Bounce” on Loyolas Campus.

A 1984 photo of Mundelein College freshmen at orientation shows three students wearing white and red beanies, a sign that the love for the little hats continued in some form for many years.

Three Mundelein College freshmen proudly sport little white caps at freshman orientation in 1984.

I remember being a scared freshman and can’t imagine the added anxiety associated with the dink hazing traditions. However, when used as a symbol of welcoming the next generation into the college community, its hard not to get nostalgic for the chic little freshmen caps.  I vote school bookstores add the vintage felt beanies to their shelves of sporty caps.

Did you have a dink at your alma mater? Are you a Mundelein alumna with a memory of the beanies? We would love to hear your stories and see your photos!


Caroline Lynd Giannakopoulos is a Project Archivist at the WLA currently processing the Mundelein College Records. She is a graduate of the Public History Masters Program at Loyola University of Chicago. Caroline has a talent for looking good in almost any hat, but always forgets to wear them.

 


Loyola University Chicago’s Women and Leadership Archives Blog is designed to provide a positive environment for the Loyola community to discuss important issues and ideas. Differences of opinion are encouraged. We invite comments in response to posts and ask that you write in a civil and respectful manner. All comments will be screened for tone and content and must include the first and last name of the author and a valid email address. The appearance of comments on the blog does not imply the University’s endorsement or acceptance of views expressed.