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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

From Barrington to ‘Nam: A Teacher’s Effort to Bring ‘Home’ to Her Student Soldiers

Archival collections offer a unique glimpse into someone’s life that we do not get from just a biography. Sometimes the seemingly random pieces or folders offer the most complete picture of a person or organization. Katherine DeLage Taft’s connection to the Vietnam War is an example of this that I personally love.

Katherine DeLage Taft, no date

Continue reading

Peace Studies Through the Years: Mundelein’s Legacy at Loyola

This post was written for Dr. Elizabeth Fraterrigo’s Fall 2018 Women’s and Gender History course. It is part of the Sesquicentennial Blog Project, which seeks to share stories from Loyola University and Mundelein College in anticipation of Loyola’s 150th anniversary in 2020-2021.

 

Compared to subjects offered since Loyola’s founding, Peace Studies is a relatively new program at Loyola University Chicago. Its history, however, stretches much further back than its start in 1994 as an interdisciplinary minor. The program’s roots can be traced to Loyola’s neighbor, Mundelein College, a women’s Catholic school that operated from 1930-1991 in what is now Mundelein Center. The story of the Peace Studies program’s journey from Mundelein to Loyola is a fascinating one, and it reveals the ways people at both schools thought about the meaning of peace.

Continue reading

Ora Benton: Student Smuggler to the Soviet Union

This past September I attended the Class of 1968 Reunion/Gannon Center 25th Anniversary to help work an oral history listening station. While I was there, I talked with a Mundelein graduate that went on a study abroad trip to the Soviet Union. She mentioned that some girls on the trip brought blue jeans with them to sell to Russians. I was interested in the idea that some women on the trip smuggled goods into the country, and decided to look into the 1982 Soviet Union study abroad trip in our archives. In the Alumnae series of the Mundelein College collection I found an account of the trip from 1980 Mundelein graduate, Ora Benton.

Ora was busy packing her bags for the trip. She had to fit everything she needed for the ten-day trip, but she was not worried about space; she was worried about getting through Soviet customs. Ora, and forty-three other students, alumnae, and friends of Mundelein College* were preparing for a study abroad trip to the Soviet Union in December of 1982. Shortly after Mundelein planned the trip the Chicago Action for Soviet Jewry (CASJ) contacted Ora and other participants of the study abroad trip. The organization asked the students to help them deliver gifts and religious material to “Refusenik” families in the Soviet Union.

Refusenik families were Soviet-Jewish families that wanted to emigrate, but the USSR refused to grant them exit visas. The women were immediately hesitant to help the CASJ. Visiting the Soviet Union during the Cold War was already nerve-wracking and now the organization wanted them to smuggle in religious “contraband.” A representative with the Chicago Action for Soviet Jewry assured them the actions were neither illegal nor dangerous. Ora and her classmate ultimately conceded to visiting one family in Moscow and one in Leningrad. Gifts for the families included menorahs, bibles, Jewish reading material, clothes, and food. What the women did not know was the Soviet Union had strict laws prohibiting the distribution and teaching of religious material.

Arriving in the Frankfurt Airport, the bags made it through customs with only a small issue of metal casing on the bible setting of the detector. While the women were not particularly worried about security in Frankfurt, the metal detector scare on the bible increased anxiety about bag checks in the Soviet Union. After landing in Moscow, both Ora and her classmate made it through customs without any issues. The customs officials did not flag of confiscate any material in the suitcases.

Once in the Soviet Union, tour guides kept the group busy with a packed itinerary. Despite their busy schedule, Ora and her classmate found time to make their way to the first Jewish household. Still uneasy and concerned about surveillance, the women were careful not to use their hotel phone or call a taxi to the hotel. Ora recalled finding a taxi after walking down a couple blocks from the hotel.  At the first home, they met an American whose father brought him to the Soviet Union during the depression. He had settled in Moscow with and his wife and son. The family tried to immigrate to Israel, but the Soviet Union denied their request to leave.

On the last day of the trip, the students made contact with the family in Leningrad. They only had one hour to visit before they had to catch their flight back to the United States. The Leningrad family, much like the family in Moscow, were very welcoming to the Americans. Their four-year-old daughter showed off her English skills, reciting children’s rhymes her father had taught her. After visiting for an hour and distributing the gifts, Ora and her classmate departed for the hotel to pack their things for the trip home. All the students and alumnae made it safely back to the United States despite smuggling contraband into the Soviet Union and breaking several Soviet laws.

*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.


Molly is a Graduate Assistant at the WLA and is in the first year in the joint Public History/Library Information Science program with Loyola University Chicago and Dominican University. She enjoys running, reading by the lake, and cheering on the Cardinals despite being surrounded by Cubs fans.

 


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:

Continue reading

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.


 

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.