Mundelein College Goes Digital!

On hand for the first print-out from Mundelein’s new computer system were (l. to r.) John Bisaha, director of planning, Susan Rink, BVM, president, and Mary Brenan Breslin, BVM, vice president for business affairs, 1977. Image and caption from Mundelein Now, May 1977.

After renting a computer system for three years, Mundelein College* finally purchased its very own computer in February 1977. Mundelein Now, a combination college events/alumnae newspaper, announced the news with pride. This first computer was used to transfer student data from the admissions office to the registrar once a student was enrolled. After graduation, the information would be transferred to the alumnae office. This replacement of physical records helped eliminate potential duplicates and made making changes to student records easier. It also allowed professors to access accurate lists of students registered for their classes. The lone computer was shared not only by admissions, the registrar, and the alumnae office but by the financial aid department and business office, where it would handle payroll, accounts payable and receivable, the general ledger, and personnel records. This paved the way to increased computer usage at Mundelein.  

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The Mundelein College Economics Club: History in a Scrapbook

During their time in college, students can participate in various activities, clubs, and extracurriculars. The number of options can be overwhelming. Extracurriculars can be a welcome invitation to expand the horizons of one’s interests or let students apply their education into real-world examples.

Figure 1: Sister Mary Gregoria Fogarty, BVM. Mundelein Colelge Records Box 29, Folder 4.

The Economics Club at Mundelein College gave students the opportunity to plan on-campus events and a chance to connect their faith within a larger framework. A scrapbook that was digitized during the Mundelein at 90 project highlights the work of the Economics Club throughout the 1940s and 1950s. The scrapbook includes newspaper articles, letters, meeting notes, and yearbook photographs.

During the 1940s, the Economics Club at Mundelein College thrived under the leadership of Sister Mary Gregoria Fogarty, BVM, the head of the Economics Department. In addition to teaching business and geography, Sister Mary Gregoria participated in several panels and wrote articles about business education for the Catholic Business Education Association (CBEA). She served as the secretary-general for the CBEA and chairman of the Executive board of the Midwest contingent. In 1947, the Midwest unit held the regional meeting on Mundelein’s campus. Public events like this exposed students to professionals in the field and introduced them to the work they could consider after graduation [1]. Presenters included business managers of local companies, administrators from university commerce departments, and bank vice-presidents. They discussed the role of Catholics in the business world and how students can be best prepared for the ”real-world”.

Figure 2: Invitation to the Dad-Daughter Discussion. Scrapbook 5, page 45-46.

Alongside these kinds of professional developments, Sister Mary Gregoria and the Economics Club organized economic-related events for the campus community and the general public. Some of the campus activities included Father-Daughter discussions on hot topics in economics, toy drives connected with local charities, and collaborative meetings with the Economics Club at Loyola University Chicago. The intersection of academics and faith seems to be a significant one for the Economics Club. Debates considered how to navigate labor-management dynamics and how best to settle worker disputes. Many of these discussions highlighted the role of the Catholic church in economic issues.

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A Brief Look into Home Economics at Mundelein College 

Figure 1: Home Economics class showing off their handmade cakes. View in Digital Collection

The phrase “Home Ec” conjures scenes of students crowded around stoves, struggling with sewing needles, or caring for imitation babies. Middle and high schoolers, usually girls, learning basic life and housekeeping skills. Something of a dying art in our modern world, it’s rare to see Home Economics programs at secondary schools, and rarer still to see them at the collegiate level, but there was a time where Home Economics was a thriving field and popular choice for undergraduate study. Mundelein College was no exception. In fact, Mundelein just so happens to have had one of the best programs in the country. But what does an undergraduate program in Home Economics look like? I explored some of the WLA’s records from Mundelein College to learn more.  

Figure 2: Two Mundelein Home Economics students working with sewing machines. View in Digital Collection

The WLA’s collection features photographs, oral histories, and department and faculty records that tell the story of a Home Economics program that, over the years, enriched the lives of students, empowered them to seek out fulfilling careers, and pushed the field forward. In the early years of Mundelein, there were a variety of subjects that fell under the umbrella of Home Economics. From department reports from the 1930s, we can see that the program offered courses on dietetics and nutrition, cooking, fashion, cosmetics, home management, personal finance, and interior design. Many of these courses take a scientific, historical, or market research approach to the subject at hand, providing not only manual training, but also a thorough understanding of the how and why behind the work. Coursework in nutrition was especially robust and was a common specialization for Home Economics majors to choose.  

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“Young, Gifted, and Black”: MuCUBA and Black Student Activism at Mundelein

This post was updated with new research and republished in April 2023. It was originally published in January 2023.

The 1960s were a tumultuous time for college students. The decade saw a surge of activism led by students across the United States. Between the war in Vietnam and the growth of the Civil Rights Movement, it is difficult to find a college student who did not take part in one activist cause or another. Mundelein College was not exempt from this student activism. The campus saw huge demonstrations against the war. The October Moratorium of 1969 saw 85% of Mundelein’s campus participate in anti-war activities [1]. When reviewing the Women and Leadership Archives’ collection of this period, especially the Mundelein Voices Media Portal, it is difficult to ignore the prevalence of anti-war involvement on campus. However, finding evidence of the activism of Black students at Mundelein can be more difficult.

Figure 1. MuCuba Members. 1970 Mundelein Yearbook, page 18. View the Yearbook in our Digital Collections.

The 1960s were brimming with national Black student activism. Organizations like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Black Panther Party helped to shape a growing Black student movement, which reached its zenith during the decade [2]. By 1968, many universities had Black student organizations. By the beginning of the ’70s, many of these organizations were using their power to make themselves heard. Universities such as the University of Kansas and the University of Wisconsin at Madison were rocked by strikes led by their respective Black student unions [3]. Mundelein was not immune to the wave of Black empowerment that led to vocal activism. In the fall semester of 1969 Black students at Mundelein formed a group to work collectively for their goals.

Figure 2. Lane Tech High School African Ensemble singing at a Mundelein College Black History Month event. 1991.  View in the Illinois Digital Archives.
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“Dancing the Evening Away:” Mundelein College and the Edgewater Beach Hotel 

Postcard depicting the Edgewater Beach Hotel complex in its heyday. Originally consisting of three buildings, the one on the far right is the Edgewater Beach Apartments, still standing today and on the National Register of Historic Places. Courtesy of the Edgewater Historical Society.

It was the place to be. In the first half of the twentieth century, when summertime arrived in Chicago, the scene at the Edgewater Beach Hotel never ceased to amaze. Beneath the moonlit sky, visitors flocked to the hotel’s beach front to dance the night away under the stars. The parties and concerts held here were legendary, stories of which spread across the nation through the wonders of radio. Cherishing the cool breeze emanating from Lake Michigan, visitors joyously swung to the rhythm of the greatest Big Band jazz orchestras of the day, celebrating the opulence of the Roaring Twenties atop the only outdoor marble dance floor in the country.  

One of the key features of the Edgewater Beach Hotel was its beach walk, pictured here on a night in 1948. Dancing would run late into the evening, spurred on by jazz orchestras playing in the ‘Band Shell.’ Courtesy of the Edgewater Historical Society.

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