Two Years of Memories and Discoveries: Scarlett’s Salutations

How can it be two years already? My time at the WLA has been a whirlwind of learning, creativity, and collaboration. I’m so delighted to have met and worked with such wonderful people here, and grateful for these two years!

Pink clouds and a blue sky glow in the distance beyond Piper Hall's main stairs, with green foliage in bloom in the foreground.
Piper Hall at dusk, August 2019–just before I started at the WLA. Photo by Scarlett

Favorite Spot in Piper Hall

My favorite spot in Piper Hall isn’t technically inside. I love the feeling of walking up to the steps and watching how it changes in every season, especially when the local flock of birds are hopping around, watching the passersby, and the Lake Michigan waves crash just out of view.

Favorite memory

Many of my favorite memories are the little things, like sharing baked goods (Regina makes amazing earl grey cookies!), decorating the reading room for the holidays with Casey, learning to fry paczki, and Laura’s cat Buzz joining our Zoom meetings. Plus, it was an honor to talk to Sister Jean on the phone and to interview Mundelein College* alumnae for our Share Your Story Project!

Favorite Collection

Five Mundelein College students dressed in 1940s fashions stand in a line and hold their knitting projects.
“Concentrating on their knitting are (extreme left) Marian Anthulis, who led a phalanx of Greek Youth in Athens before Greece entered World War II, Patricia Tierney, heading a committee to secure a Mundelein Red Cross unit, June Eng, (center) and Patricia Moy (extreme right), American-born Chinese sophomores, and Ruth Wagner, all knitting for Red Cross.” Mundelein College Photographs, Wartime activities, 1941

One of my favorite collections might be the Mollie Lieber West Papers. West immigrated to the U.S. from Poland at the age of 13 and became an activist while in high school after the school threatened to cut extracurricular activities in the midst of the Great Depression. As a French horn player, West organized a student strike and was arrested, launching her lifelong career in labor activism.

Another favorite of mine is the Mundelein College Records, simply because it’s such a rich collection! There’s always something fascinating, moving, charming, or unexpected to find, whether it’s a scrapbook, Skyscraper article, correspondence, or a photograph like this one, which brings me to…

Favorite finds

I couldn’t choose one, so here are two finds! First, a comic predicting that Mundelein would be an interplanetary school by 2045. Talk about a long commute!

And second, Mundelein’s Lord of the Rings fandom in this article, responding to some errors in LOTR details in the previous paper (let it be known that Bilbo was eleventy-one, not eleventy-two!). I admit I’m a little jealous—I first read the books in college, but had no “Hobbit Club” to meet other “Ringworms!”

Through the past two years at the WLA, I’ve gained an enormous appreciation for the many ways women have stepped into leadership roles, and I’ve had some amazing opportunities to grow as a history professional. I’m so grateful for my time here, and I wish all the best to the next graduate assistants who get to explore and contribute to this amazing archive!

*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.

Scarlett, seen here getting ready to fry paczki, is a Sesquicentennial Scholar at the Women and Leadership Archives and is a second-year Public History Master’s student. She enjoys studying food history, photographing wildlife, and watching far too much Great British Bake Off.

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About Women and Leadership Archives

Established in 1994, the Women and Leadership Archives (WLA) collects, preserves, and makes available permanently valuable records of women and women’s organizations, which document women’s lives, roles, and contributions. The WLA grew out of the need to care for the records of Mundelein College and expanded to collect papers of women leaders and women’s organizations. Collection strengths include the subject areas of activism and women’s issues; authors; education; environmental issues; public service; social justice; women religious; and the fine, performance, and visual arts. The WLA is part of the Gannon Center and Loyola University Libraries and serves a wide variety of users, ranging from students and scholars to the general public. The WLA makes records available at the Archives in Loyola’s Piper Hall, offers remote reference services, presents programs, and provides online resources. Staff include a Director, Assistant Archivist, and graduate assistants from Loyola’s Public History Program.

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