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. The journals and other materials will be donated to the Women and Leadership Archives when the exhibition closes at the Edgewater Historical Society.

 

 

 

 


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.


 

 

Mundelein College Remembers Them: Alumnae Files in the Archive

Have you ever wondered what happened to your parents’ college materials, or what could happen to your own file from your undergraduate or graduate career? After working with the vast archival collection of Mundelein College (MC), I’m tempted to call my parents’ universities and see if they have archival records.

The Women and Leadership Archives was founded on the collection of MC, which was run by the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In my work as a graduate assistant, my assignment these last few months has been to process certain MC collection series, or topic subsets within an archival collection.

Alumna Molly Milligan wrote to the BVM nuns to express her thanks for what she learned at Mundelein.

One series in particular reminded me that listening is an integral part of learning. While organizing the MC alumnae series, which consisted of files on graduates of the college, I found endless numbers of stories. To my surprise, though it was not difficult physically, it was emotionally draining to process the alumnae series.

Though I tried not to read the materials too closely – that would slow me down – I ended up skimming many of the folders’ contents. As a result, it took me a lot longer than it should have to get through the series. However, I do not regret it: it was incredibly humbling to read these hundreds of folders and learn about the hundreds of lives they represent.

1966: Rosalind Russell and Jane Trahey (’43) on the set of “The Trouble with Angels,” a film based on Trahey’s book, “Life with Mother Superior.”

 

Mundelein College alumnae documented their struggles and successes from around the country. In letters sent to former University President Sr. Ann Ida Gannon, BVM, they related every aspect of their lives. Much of it was sad. Illnesses abounded – they fought cancers, personal injuries, and their families’ diseases. Some divorced their husbands, and wrote about the hurt they endured afterwards. Many women described their pain at the deaths of parents, spouses, and friends.

 

 

1964: (l to r) Sr. Ann Ida Gannon, B.V.M., Cardinal Albert Meyer, Honorary Degree Recipients: Claire Booth Luce, Dr, Bernice Cronkhite, Maude Clarke, and Dr. Virginia Woods Corbett-class of 1935

On the other hand, many of their stories were positive: they told of their families’ growth, their personal and professional work, and their memories of the college. All of these women loved their college and remembered it affectionately. One graduate and her husband raised ten children and sent regular Christmas cards (with updates) to Mundelein’s nuns. I felt as if I got to know the family through their formative years! Several women started their own businesses, both in Chicago and elsewhere. Helen Sauer Brown (‘44) and Jane Trahey (‘43) both launched successful careers in the business world. Still others achieved extraordinarily high academic honors. Virginia Woods Callahan Corbett (‘35) was Mundelein’s first student to obtain a doctorate, and Jacqueline Powers Doud (‘62) rose to become the president of Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles.

Time after time, these folders reiterated to me that these women inspired love. The folder often began with a woman’s Mundelein student report cards and progressed through her life. But reaching the end of a folder always hurt: it usually concluded with an obituary. The obituary was often formal, but it became personalized through a letter to Mundelein nuns from the deceased’s grieving husband. In short, this series gave me little glimpses into the lives of Mundelein graduates and the deep care they inspired. They were academics, doctors, artists, and homemakers. They were parents, siblings, and – most importantly at the college – friends.

Virginia Volini Marciniak obituary, October 29, 1990

The funeral of one alumn will stay with me for a long time. After a long and involved life, Virginia Volini Marcinak (‘51) died of cancer in 1990. I learned all about her husband Ed – the president of Loyola Chicago’s Institute of Urban Life – and her daughters Christina, Claudia, Catherine, and Francesca. Virginia had a background in choral music and founded an art collective that served the Edgewater and Rogers Park neighborhoods.

The “Salve Regina” sung at Marciniak’s funeral

Someone sent the Mundelein Archives a copy of the funeral sermon. Though it’s unclear who wrote it, the writer read it aloud at Virginia’s funeral. That person sang a “Salve Regina” to Virginia in her last hours. The last page of the sermon included the words of that song and requested that the attendees join in singing.

Perhaps I should have read fewer of the files, which were often as much about the families and spouses as the women themselves. However, I think I did the right thing. These women lived incredible lives connected by one college and its nuns. Someone should bear witness to those lives, even in a small way.

After reading hundreds of alumnae files, this woman’s tribute brought tears to my eyes. But I think that’s a good thing. Someone needed to bear witness to these lives in the archives, and that day, it was me.


Angela is a Graduate Assistant at the WLA and is in the first year of the MA in Public History at Loyola University Chicago. Originally from the West Coast, she is enthusiastic about swing dancing, choral music, and pub trivia. Angela is also a devoted National Public Radio listener.

 


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.


An American Artist in Korea

Whenever I look for ideas for blog posts, I try to find a connection between the collections and current events, and with the winter Olympics happening in Pyeongchang this past week, this post was no exception. I was excited to find the collection of a woman who visited South Korea, not as an athlete, but as an artist.

Susan Sensemann is a professor emerita in the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She received her BFA in printmaking from Syracuse University in 1971 and her MFA in painting at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Sensemann’s art focuses on a variety of subjects and uses diverse mediums, including photography, sculpture, drawing, and painting.

Sensemann joined Artemisia, a women artists’ cooperative in Chicago, in 1993. As one of the leaders of the mentorship program and a as a professor, she worked with international artists and traveled the world displaying her art pieces and giving lectures on feminist art in America – our collection includes records from her travels to Belgium, China, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, and South Korea in the 1990s.

Sensemann in 1996

In April 1995, she and four other Artemisia artists traveled to Seoul, South Korea (a 3-hour bus ride from the current Olympic village in Pyeongchang). They exhibited artwork at Gallery Woong and gave lectures on feminist art. They visited three Korean artist’s studios as part of an arts exchange with Korean artists previously hosted at University of Illinois at Chicago. The women were inspired by the bright fabrics and diversity of religions they encountered; Sensemann wrote that, “This is the country to which I would welcome a return.”

Pamphlet from 1995 Seoul exhibition

In August of the same year, Sensemann attended the Non-governmental Organization (NGO) Forum on Women in Beijing. A ten-day conference, the Forum addressed global women’s issues and barriers to equality and peace. She moderated a panel entitled, “Transforming Recycled Materials: Collage, Montage, Assemblage,” that discussed re-contextualizing found materials.

 

A page from the 1995 Forum schedule

To better secure her visa for the trip, Sensemann also visited Northeast Normal University in the Jilin Province in China as a visiting lecturer and submitted art to the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Victory of Anti-Fascist War International Fine Arts Exhibition. She received a bronze medal and as part of the awards ceremony, she attended a televised public painting party and a traditional performance banquet; Sensemann comments in her summer report from 1995 that she was surprised at the lack of equality during the performance, where women were the dancers and servers and not distinguished guests. As her own type of protest, emboldened by the Forum just months earlier, Sensemann sang “She’s Got the Whole World in Her Hands.”

Susan Sensemann did not just visit the country of the current Olympic Games; by continually promoting education, activism, equality, and art to students and women around the world, she exemplifies the unification and celebration that the Olympics represent.


Emily is a Graduate Assistant at the WLA and is in her first 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.

The Man from Mundelein

In this blog post I’d like to share a special and humorous story from the Mundelein* collection that highlights an exceptional department at the college, and reminds us that while we still have progress to make in reaching true gender equality, we’ve come a long way.

In 1964, twenty-four year-old, John Harper wanted to become the first man to join the U.S. Army Medical Specialist Corps’ Student Dietitian Program. Established in 1957, the program helped female college students studying home economics become professional dietitians, and in 1964 was opened to men. Despite having his B.S. in Food Nutrition from Illinois Wesleyan University, Harper was just two courses shy of the requirement to enter the program.

Sr. Mary Pierre

He began searching for Chicago area schools that offered the courses he needed, and discovered that Mundelein College, with its robust Home Economics Department, made the top of a short list. Harper found himself calling the department chair, Sister Mary Pierre, B.V.M. asking if he could register. What Harper didn’t realize (though our regular readers will) was that Mundelein College was in fact, a women’s college.

The papal blessing certificate for Sr. Mary Pierre’s contributions to the field of home economics.

Unbeknownst to Harper, the Mundelein Home Ec. Department was nationally known under Sr. Mary Pierre’s leadership, herself a leading figure in the field.  In 1946, just two years after the American Home Economics Association was founded, Sr. Mary Pierre organized the creation of the National Catholic Council on Home Economics, with the mission to improve the quality of education in Home Ec. Programs and to demonstrate that science, art, material, and spiritual values could and should be combined. During WWII students in the department were invited by the Nutrition Division of the local Office of Civilian Defense to present demonstrations and programs on meal planning with rations.

Despite the unconventionality of the situation, Harper was admitted to the program as a special student and completed the needed coursework alongside his female colleagues. After graduating, he was accepted to the Army’s Dietetic Internship Program, and trained to serve in Army hospitals throughout the world.

The April 22, 1964 edition of The Skyscraper

If the student newspaper, the Skyscraper, is any indication, the Mundelein student body fully embraced their 1,186 to 1 ratio, and Harper reported: “By this time, I’m used to it. You don’t find too many men majoring in Home Economics, so along about now, it’s second hand!”

 

*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.

 


Kate is a Graduate Assistant at the WLA and in the second year of her M.A. in Public History at Loyola University Chicago. A Colorado gal, 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.

 

Getting the Record(s) Right

Carol Moseley Braun

When Carol Moseley Braun was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992, she found herself in the middle of a national public spotlight as the first African American female senator ever elected and only the second African American senator to serve since Reconstruction. (The WLA, for example, has at least twelve different magazines all covering her historic tenure.) With that high came a series of lows, though, as the media began publicizing a number of scandals that were emerging during her years in office about everything from Braun’s supposed mismanagement of campaign funds to accusations of her cheating the Medicare system by pocketing money earned from her mother’s family farm. Over time, many of these reports resolved themselves with much less fanfare as either Braun’s name was cleared or the unintentional oversights were corrected. The problem, however, was that her reputation had already sustained some lasting damage.

Magazines featuring stories about Braun

 

This aspect of Braun’s biography struck me because when I started working with the WLA this past summer, I knew that it was going to be an informative experience, but I did not expect to learn so much about the political importance of archival work. As a Postdoctoral Fellow at Northwestern University, I pursued this opportunity via the Black Metropolis Research Consortium because my research explores the founding and impact of early twentieth-century black archives, and I wanted to receive more hands-on training in what it meant to actually process a collection. I was fortunate in being paired with the WLA to help work with Ambassador Braun’s papers because I kept finding new ways to think about the significance of archives beyond just their warehousing of facts from years ago. As it relates to Braun, I realized that archives could also operate as a kind of watchdog in holding public discourse accountable because these repositories form their own delayed checks and balances system with the more current mainstream media.

One of Braun’s campaign posters

For instance, in the decades since Braun’s six years in the Senate, she went on to serve as an ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, run a number of businesses, and pursue public office three more times (including her failed senatorial re-election campaign). Yet with each of these later bids, she also had to contend with what some media outlets would call her “scandal-plagued” past despite her later vindications. In Braun’s papers, it was interesting to note the number of times she wrote journalists and editors trying to correct the repetition of those same stories. In the process, I realized that, as important as journalists undeniably are in keeping leaders honest and transparent, archives, on the other hand, also help to hold the media accountable over the long term. As I worked through Braun’s papers, I imagined the day when a researcher would be able to consult the Carol Moseley Braun Collection as well as records elsewhere in order to tell the story of this important period in our country’s history. This made me appreciate even more the role that archives play in helping the truth to ultimately prevail.


Melanie Chambliss is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of African American Studies at Northwestern University. She earned her Ph.D. in African American Studies and American Studies from Yale University in 2016. She has received awards from the Ford Foundation, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Black Metropolis Research Consortium, and the American Council of Learned Societies (declined).


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.