Legacy of the 19th Amendment: Homemakers and the Equal Rights Amendment

In 1920, the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote was ratified by the 34th state and became part of the United States Constitution.[i] Suffragists had won this battle, but the war for equality was far from over. Within a year of winning the right to vote, women’s rights activists found their next battle in the idea for “a federal guarantee that the law would treat people equally regardless of their sex” (Thulin, 2019).[ii] From this idea came the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Though it was introduced early on, the ERA did not gain traction until the 1960s-1970s. This last draft of this Amendment is short and simple: 

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

The ERA inspired controversy. One group that opposed it, called Stop Taking Our Privileges (STOP) ERA, claimed the ERA took away women’s privileges as homemakers and would rob them of their femininity. To fight this claim, a new group called HERA (Homemakers for the Equal Rights Amendment) was formed. 

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From the Mrs Files to the Sister Files

In May, the New York Times began to publish a series called The Mrs. Files, exploring what the honorific Mrs. means to women and their identity. The project took shape when staff began digging through their own archives and digitizing millions of photos (I can’t even imagine!) and found that even history’s most well-known women were categorized under a card holding their husband’s name with the added title “Mrs.”. Artist Frida Kahlo, for instance, was identified as “Mrs.” Diego Rivera in the newspaper’s files. 

Learn more about the New York Times Mrs. Files project here and here

At the WLA, we have come across plenty of examples of women’s names changing in different stages of life. These instances make us stop and think about what these changes meant to these individuals, how we can usefully organize our records, and how to best identify these women to show respect to their full lives and accomplishments. 

The first winner of the Magnificat Medal was Mary Mannix (Mrs. Henry Mannix). She is photographed (center) at the 1948 award ceremony with Mundelein president Sister Mary Josephine Malone, BVM and an unknown woman.
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A Voice for Themselves: The Lavender Woman and the Lesbian Community in Chicago

When we decided to write a piece in honor of Pride Month, I will confess that I was rather apprehensive as I was not familiar with LGBTQIA+ history and did not want to mis-represent the community unintentionally. However, I also felt that delving into unfamiliar territory and learning more about it was better than remaining in the dark so I decided to do some sleuthing around in the WLA’s holdings to see what I could find.

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One Graduate Assistant’s Perspective on Working from Home

Although our physical archives in Piper Hall remain closed due to Illinois’s shelter-at-home order, there is still plenty of work to be done. The week before the issue was ordered, the Women and Leadership Archives began preparations to work remotely. Graduate Assistants working on digitization projects began mass scanning the Mundelein College Photo Collection to create work for them to do remotely. The Director and Assistant Archivist began meeting to discuss what projects could be available for the Assistants. They also contacted researchers to try and find a way to make collections accessible during the closure. And so many more things happened in that week.  

What about now? 

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Women Worldwide Protecting the Environment

The young environmental activist Greta Thunberg has gotten the world’s attention in the past year for her great passion and bold actions to fight climate change and persuade everyone to do their part. At 16 years old, she was the youngest to be named Time Person of the Year and was included in Forbes list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2019. Wow! That’s quite an impact for one young woman to make. 

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Nearly Ninety Years of Mundelein College

With the spring semester, my role here at the WLA changed, and I became a Sesquicentennial (150th) Scholar. To mark Loyola’s 150th anniversary, the other Scholars and I have been researching and creating a timeline of 150 years of student life at Loyola and Mundelein College.* What seemed like a straightforward task has had me digging through files of every kind at the WLA in search of a dynamic photo, a newspaper clipping, or a good story from Mundelein’s past students.

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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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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.


 

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.