What’s in a name?: Working on the LUCIR photographs

There was something not quite right about the working title for this folder. The first letters of the student organization’s full name, “Latins United for Our Cultural Heritage”, were not lining up with its acronym, LUCIR. This thought continued to bug me as I scanned the folder of pictures, leading me to pursue a fascinating trail through a published book, several other folders in the Women and Leadership Archives’ (WLA) collection and a yearbook.

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Christmas Jewels: A Taste of the Holidays at Mundelein College

It’s almost holiday time at Loyola, which means finals week, cold winds off the lake, and dreaming of holiday food! For someone who loves food and history, I am always looking for ways to use food to better understand the past. So when I learned that the WLA holds papers from Mundelein College’s* Home Economics department, I had a feeling there might be some gems hiding in the files.

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A Visit Turned Crusade: A Struggle to End the Death Penalty

Dr. Irene Meyer was a Mundelein College* professor from 1957 to 1992. In that time, Dr. Meyer earned her PhD, became a fervent civil rights activist, and fought for the abolition of capital punishment in Illinois. I first came across Dr. Irene Meyer earlier this year for a reference request. In her file, there were several articles, which marked her involvement with a man on death row. Reading these sparked my curiosity, and I had to see what else we had in our collections on Dr. Meyer. What I learned was that Dr. Meyer has led an amazing life, built an incredible career, and her story is one that needs to be told.   Continue reading

Dancing at Mundelein

Dance has a large impact on my life. I grew up dancing, starting at the age of three. I went through my life, even graduating with a Dance Complementary major. When I stumbled onto dance records working at the Women and Leadership Archives, I became very excited.

I began research on dance at Mundelein College*, combing through files and student newspapers. I came across several photos of co-ed dances as well as finding some photos and articles of Mundelein dance performances. Overall, I noticed three main genres of dances at Mundelein: company dance performances, students in dance, and social dances.

Concert Dance, Inc. was an Artist-in-Residence at Mundelein College beginning in 1982. The partnership began when a member of the dance company visited Mundelein in hopes to hang promotional posters. On a whim, the dancer asked if the college would be interested in having a dance company in-residence. Under the leadership of Venetia Stifler, the company began their partnership with Mundelein.

This partnership allowed Concert Dance, Inc. to use Mundelein Theatre for productions. Their first performance was October 15 and 16, 1982. Featured in this performance was a new Stifler creation, “Mundelein Madness.” The company also offered classes for Mundelein students beginning in the spring of 1983. They started by offering two classes: Dance Technique I and Dance Performance I. Due to students’ interests, the company sponsored a dance club for Mundelein students to work with a performance company.

Fig. 1 Concert Dance Inc. modern dance class, undated.

Concert Dance Inc. had regional recognition. The company worked on multiple collaborative projects. In 1986, Stifler received the Chicago Dance Arts Coalition’s Ruth Page Award for Artistic Achievement of the Year for her work Magic Spaces that was part of a collaborative project with Frank Vodvarka. Vodvarka was an artist affiliated with Mundelein College who had an extensive background in architecture. They also worked on The Chicago Project, which was created to celebrate Chicago’s 150th anniversary as a city.

Fig. 2 Concert Dance Inc. program cover, 1986.

Concert Dance Inc. left their Mundelein Residence around 1988, but the company is still performing today with Venetia Stifler as their director.

Students’ interactions with dance were not limited to artists-in-residence. While browsing through Skyscraper articles and files of photos, I learned about on-campus dance clubs. In 1935, the Social Dancing club decided it was time to step up their dancing skills. In an October Skyscraper article, the club calls out for people wanting to improve their dancing skills to look amazing at the Junior Prom (see Fig. 3).

Fig. 3 Excerpt from Skyscraper, Volume 6 Issue 2.

Dance clubs and drama typically merged. From the resources I went through, I found distinct mentions of various techniques. In 1933, the Skyscraper mentions performances of Interpretative Dance, in which motion accompanied spoken word. Interpretative Dances combine two art forms, poetry and dance, which gives audience members a visual for what is in the artist’s mind. In the 1940s, the Skyscraper mentions ballet dances were performed on campus (see Fig. 4). Ballets are some of the oldest forms of dancing still practiced regularly today. Classical ballets like The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty attract numerous visitors. Photos from the 1950s and 1960s present modern dance classes that practiced in the gymnasium (See fig. 5 and 6). Modern dance differed from ballet by allowing more torso movement appearing less rigid. A Skyscraper article from 1966 mentions an upcoming choreography concert: “In a unique cooperation, the Mundelein modern dance club, Orchesis, will present a concert … with the Judith Scott Dance Company” (Skyscraper Volume 36 Issue 13).

Fig. 4 Photo from Skyscraper, Volume 10 Issue 14.

Fig. 5 Modern dance performance, 1958.

Fig. 6 Modern dance class, 1961.

From the materials left behind to research, it would appear that social dances affected most students at Mundelein. This came as a surprise to me because many Christian colleges and universities disapproved of co-ed dancing. Not only did this thinking spur from movies like Footloose, but also in my own experience growing up Christian and the stigmas I was taught about social dancing. At Mundelein there were Tea Dances, Sophomore Coalition, Junior Prom, Senior Ball, Coke Dances, Swing Dances, and so many others. Social dances were a chance for co-ed interaction, mostly between Mundelein and Loyola students. Cadet Balls gave Mundelein students an opportunity to spend time with the military personnel (See Fig. 7).

Fig 7. Cadet Ball, 1963.

Fig. 8 Tea Dance, 1961.

I was only able to scratch the surface of dance at Mundelein, and I am sure there is a lot that I am missing. From the documents and photos I browsed, I have gathered that social dances were more popular than technique dances like ballet and modern. However, I have enjoyed everything I have viewed in the research I have done. With my life being extremely involved in dance and dealing with battles between Christian denominations and their opinions on dance, it was comforting to see a Christian university that did not ban dancing, but promoted it with classes and events. The date for this post, October 22, 2019, was no accident. It was chosen because of the National Arts and Humanities Month observance day for dance.

* 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.

Miranda Ridener is a Graduate Assistant for the Women and Leadership Archives. She has her undergraduate degree in History and Dance from Anderson University Anderson, Indiana and she is currently pursuing her master’s in Public History from Loyola University.


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.

Start of a New School Year

This blog was originally posted on September 9, 2016. As we welcome new students and share in old traditions, we hope you enjoy reading about the new school year activities at Mundelein College!

Universities around the country are now in full swing. Returning students fall into a familiar routine while incoming freshman spend their first days figuring out class schedules and getting the lay of the land. Articles and photographs in the Skyscraper give some idea as to how Mundelein College* students rang in the new school year. Freshman and upperclassmen alike participated in socials, dances, and a Big Sister program.

Students advertising Freshman Day, 1936

Students advertising Freshman Day, 1936

Much information about the new students can be found in the Skyscraper. Yearly, the front page of the newspaper featured a photo of the “First Ladies.” The women featured in the photos were students from the incoming freshman class that were the top students in their high school class. The newspaper recognizes all incoming students with articles containing demographics and statistics of the incoming freshman class. These include what schools, states, and countries the students came from as well as if there was an increase in enrollment. Staff and faculty are also recognized, including one article highlighting that the new faculty studies in seven countries. Continue reading

Graduation Reflections: Mundelein Commencement Through the Years

WLA graduate assistants and Master’s in Public History Angela, Rothman and Emily Muszynski, pose with fellow graduate Matt Labbe before their Commencement ceremony on May 7, 2019. Rothman and Muszynski each earned a Master’s in Public History and Labbe earned a Master’s in United States History.

It’s graduation time at Loyola University Chicago, and I’ve enjoyed looking back at commencement photographs from the collection of Mundelein College. 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.

I helped reprocess the Mundelein College Paper Records and wrote the collection finding aid alongside Project Archivist Caroline Lynd Giannakopoulos. We arranged, described, and housed archival objects for patron use. The Women and Leadership Archives, in Piper Hall on Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus, holds the many, many boxes of processed materials from the Catholic women’s college. Today, Mundelein’s skyscraper building is known as the Mundelein Center for Fine and Performing Arts. The Women and Leadership Archives preserves the college’s memory through a variety of records.

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Collection Sneak Peek: The Ambassador to Paradise

The staff at the WLA has been hard at work this year processing new collections to make them available to researchers. You can read about some of these collections that will be available soon in our previous blog post. In this post, I am going to share a sneak peek of an upcoming collection that I feel honored to be working on: The Carol Moseley Braun Papers!

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Coming Soon To The WLA

When a collection comes into the WLA, a staff member looks at all of the records and comes up with a processing plan to organize the collection and make it accessible for users. Depending on the amount of material, type of material, and how much the donor originally organized it, some collections can be processed quickly and others take months. The goal of processing is to make all of the material easy to find for the user.

Here are some of the collections you can expect to see at the WLA soon! Continue reading

Mary P. Haney and the Decade for Women

The beginning of April means that Women’s History Month has come to a close and International Women’s Day has passed, but the WLA works all year round to bring to light the contributions of women that help their communities and impact the world!

In today’s blog post, I am excited to highlight a collection that shows how one woman’s unique experiences led to a career advocating for women through international collaboration. The materials donated by Mary P. Haney document the roles she played in different stages of her life, including her participation in the international women’s movements taking place during what the United Nations called the “Decade for Women.”

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Digitizing Mundelein

Our unassuming file cabinets

There is a lot of history stored here in the Women and Leadership Archives, so it would be easy to overlook the three black filing cabinets tucked away in a corner of our reading room. That would be a mistake, though, since those drawers contain the Mundelein College Photograph Collection.* In other words, they hold an estimated 40,000 photographs and slides (yes, you read that correctly) captured during Mundelein College’s more than sixty-year history.

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