“Thanks for the Memories”: Regina’s reflections on two years at the WLA

My alma mater did not have an archive, so working at the Women and Leadership Archives was the first experience I had with a university archive! These two years of work have gifted me many memories and I would like to share a list of my favorites with you here (in no particular order): 

Workplace culture

There is always a reason to celebrate at WLA – whether it be the completion of exams, the arrival of Caroline’s baby, birthdays, the appearance of Laura’s cat during our Zoom meetings or just wrapping up small tasks. There is also a strong culture of mentorship and camaraderie. Colleagues generously offer to help with tasks or offer helpful advice (thank you for the travel tips, Casey!).  I particularly appreciated the one-on-one semester review sessions we have with our director, Emily, where we chat about our work at the WLA and receive post-graduation advice. Creating such a culture is something I would like to bring with me going forward. 

Figure 1. The board with slips of paper indicating our tasks below our names. Finished tasks get moved to the green chalice on the left. 


Frida is our resident horse guardian at the WLA. A former child’s toy, she was found abandoned and unfunctional in a back alley but was brought back to life through Miranda’s magical touch. Miranda kept Frida’s resurrection a secret until our end-of-semester party (in December 2019), and it was the best holiday surprise to see her toss her head and neigh! 

A fun note: Frida was found with a sign spelling her name as “Frieda”, but since she arrived on Frida Kahlo’s birthday, the WLA decided to spell it “Frida” instead. 

Figure 2.  Frida guarding the Mundelein College records. 

Share Your Story: Student Life at Mundelein

The stories shared by former Mundelein College* students in this oral history project brought Mundelein to life in a way the records could not, and sometimes made me wish I had been a student there too! The BVMs clearly played an instrumental role in equipping their students with confidence and curiosity, and their work taught me something new about the roles of women religious. 

Loyola at 150: Student Life Timeline project  

Through this project, I honed key skills such as documenting, Googling about technical issues, describing images, and figuring out how to research amid a pandemic. Jennifer and Scarlett, my fellow Sesquicentennial Scholars, also taught me so much about presenting materials in a creative manner, and I enjoyed learning about the University Archives and Special Collections’ rich holdings. 

Favorite collection

It was fun to work with the Chicago Women artists digital collection for a blog post and learn about the diverse themes and media explored by these artists. 

Favorite find

I close with a wonderful page from the May 18, 1938 issue of the Skyscraper, Mundelein College’s student newspaper, carrying students’ reflections on graduation and the close of a school year. Thank you for the memories, WLA! I look forward to staying in touch. 

Figure 4. Page 5 of the May 18, 1938 issue of Skyscraper

*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.

Regina is a Sesquicentennial Scholar at the WLA and is in the second year of the Digital Humanities MA Program. Born and raised in Singapore, she enjoys reading, cooking, baking and figuring out how to keep her plants alive.

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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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