An American Artist in Korea

Whenever I look for ideas for blog posts, I try to find a connection between the collections and current events, and with the winter Olympics happening in Pyeongchang this past week, this post was no exception. I was excited to find the collection of a woman who visited South Korea, not as an athlete, but as an artist.

Susan Sensemann is a professor emerita in the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She received her BFA in printmaking from Syracuse University in 1971 and her MFA in painting at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Sensemann’s art focuses on a variety of subjects and uses diverse mediums, including photography, sculpture, drawing, and painting.

Sensemann joined Artemisia, a women artists’ cooperative in Chicago, in 1993. As one of the leaders of the mentorship program and a as a professor, she worked with international artists and traveled the world displaying her art pieces and giving lectures on feminist art in America – our collection includes records from her travels to Belgium, China, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, and South Korea in the 1990s.

Sensemann in 1996

In April 1995, she and four other Artemisia artists traveled to Seoul, South Korea (a 3-hour bus ride from the current Olympic village in Pyeongchang). They exhibited artwork at Gallery Woong and gave lectures on feminist art. They visited three Korean artist’s studios as part of an arts exchange with Korean artists previously hosted at University of Illinois at Chicago. The women were inspired by the bright fabrics and diversity of religions they encountered; Sensemann wrote that, “This is the country to which I would welcome a return.”

Pamphlet from 1995 Seoul exhibition

In August of the same year, Sensemann attended the Non-governmental Organization (NGO) Forum on Women in Beijing. A ten-day conference, the Forum addressed global women’s issues and barriers to equality and peace. She moderated a panel entitled, “Transforming Recycled Materials: Collage, Montage, Assemblage,” that discussed re-contextualizing found materials.

 

A page from the 1995 Forum schedule

To better secure her visa for the trip, Sensemann also visited Northeast Normal University in the Jilin Province in China as a visiting lecturer and submitted art to the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Victory of Anti-Fascist War International Fine Arts Exhibition. She received a bronze medal and as part of the awards ceremony, she attended a televised public painting party and a traditional performance banquet; Sensemann comments in her summer report from 1995 that she was surprised at the lack of equality during the performance, where women were the dancers and servers and not distinguished guests. As her own type of protest, emboldened by the Forum just months earlier, Sensemann sang “She’s Got the Whole World in Her Hands.”

Susan Sensemann did not just visit the country of the current Olympic Games; by continually promoting education, activism, equality, and art to students and women around the world, she exemplifies the unification and celebration that the Olympics represent.


Emily is a Graduate Assistant at the WLA and is in her first year in the joint Public History/Library Information Science program with Loyola University Chicago and Dominican University. She enjoys going on long walks with her puppy, visiting cool museums, and cheering on the White Sox during baseball season.

 


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.

The Man from Mundelein

In this blog post I’d like to share a special and humorous story from the Mundelein* collection that highlights an exceptional department at the college, and reminds us that while we still have progress to make in reaching true gender equality, we’ve come a long way.

In 1964, twenty-four year-old, John Harper wanted to become the first man to join the U.S. Army Medical Specialist Corps’ Student Dietitian Program. Established in 1957, the program helped female college students studying home economics become professional dietitians, and in 1964 was opened to men. Despite having his B.S. in Food Nutrition from Illinois Wesleyan University, Harper was just two courses shy of the requirement to enter the program.

Sr. Mary Pierre

He began searching for Chicago area schools that offered the courses he needed, and discovered that Mundelein College, with its robust Home Economics Department, made the top of a short list. Harper found himself calling the department chair, Sister Mary Pierre, B.V.M. asking if he could register. What Harper didn’t realize (though our regular readers will) was that Mundelein College was in fact, a women’s college.

The papal blessing certificate for Sr. Mary Pierre’s contributions to the field of home economics.

Unbeknownst to Harper, the Mundelein Home Ec. Department was nationally known under Sr. Mary Pierre’s leadership, herself a leading figure in the field.  In 1946, just two years after the American Home Economics Association was founded, Sr. Mary Pierre organized the creation of the National Catholic Council on Home Economics, with the mission to improve the quality of education in Home Ec. Programs and to demonstrate that science, art, material, and spiritual values could and should be combined. During WWII students in the department were invited by the Nutrition Division of the local Office of Civilian Defense to present demonstrations and programs on meal planning with rations.

Despite the unconventionality of the situation, Harper was admitted to the program as a special student and completed the needed coursework alongside his female colleagues. After graduating, he was accepted to the Army’s Dietetic Internship Program, and trained to serve in Army hospitals throughout the world.

The April 22, 1964 edition of The Skyscraper

If the student newspaper, the Skyscraper, is any indication, the Mundelein student body fully embraced their 1,186 to 1 ratio, and Harper reported: “By this time, I’m used to it. You don’t find too many men majoring in Home Economics, so along about now, it’s second hand!”

 

*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.

 


Kate is a Graduate Assistant at the WLA and in the second year of her M.A. in Public History at Loyola University Chicago. A Colorado gal, she enjoys classic films, bike riding, and all things museums.

 

 


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.

 

Getting the Record(s) Right

Carol Moseley Braun

When Carol Moseley Braun was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992, she found herself in the middle of a national public spotlight as the first African American female senator ever elected and only the second African American senator to serve since Reconstruction. (The WLA, for example, has at least twelve different magazines all covering her historic tenure.) With that high came a series of lows, though, as the media began publicizing a number of scandals that were emerging during her years in office about everything from Braun’s supposed mismanagement of campaign funds to accusations of her cheating the Medicare system by pocketing money earned from her mother’s family farm. Over time, many of these reports resolved themselves with much less fanfare as either Braun’s name was cleared or the unintentional oversights were corrected. The problem, however, was that her reputation had already sustained some lasting damage.

Magazines featuring stories about Braun

 

This aspect of Braun’s biography struck me because when I started working with the WLA this past summer, I knew that it was going to be an informative experience, but I did not expect to learn so much about the political importance of archival work. As a Postdoctoral Fellow at Northwestern University, I pursued this opportunity via the Black Metropolis Research Consortium because my research explores the founding and impact of early twentieth-century black archives, and I wanted to receive more hands-on training in what it meant to actually process a collection. I was fortunate in being paired with the WLA to help work with Ambassador Braun’s papers because I kept finding new ways to think about the significance of archives beyond just their warehousing of facts from years ago. As it relates to Braun, I realized that archives could also operate as a kind of watchdog in holding public discourse accountable because these repositories form their own delayed checks and balances system with the more current mainstream media.

One of Braun’s campaign posters

For instance, in the decades since Braun’s six years in the Senate, she went on to serve as an ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, run a number of businesses, and pursue public office three more times (including her failed senatorial re-election campaign). Yet with each of these later bids, she also had to contend with what some media outlets would call her “scandal-plagued” past despite her later vindications. In Braun’s papers, it was interesting to note the number of times she wrote journalists and editors trying to correct the repetition of those same stories. In the process, I realized that, as important as journalists undeniably are in keeping leaders honest and transparent, archives, on the other hand, also help to hold the media accountable over the long term. As I worked through Braun’s papers, I imagined the day when a researcher would be able to consult the Carol Moseley Braun Collection as well as records elsewhere in order to tell the story of this important period in our country’s history. This made me appreciate even more the role that archives play in helping the truth to ultimately prevail.


Melanie Chambliss is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of African American Studies at Northwestern University. She earned her Ph.D. in African American Studies and American Studies from Yale University in 2016. She has received awards from the Ford Foundation, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Black Metropolis Research Consortium, and the American Council of Learned Societies (declined).


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.

Sharing Religious and Musical Traditions

The WLA is in the shadow of the giant Mundelein Center, formerly a Catholic women’s college run by the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM). The school eventually affiliated with Loyola University next door, but in its sixty years of operating, the nuns and their students developed traditions unique to their school. When I started looking through the college’s materials here at the WLA, I didn’t expect to necessarily have much in common with the student of Mundelein College. I should not have doubted, however, because their traditions have many similarities to my K-12 Catholic school upbringing.

Mundelein students and staff had two major traditions over the decades: the Candlelighting and the Cantata. I relate to both of these activities in different ways, as I’ll describe below.

Candlelighting at Mundelein was a ritual welcoming in of the holiday season. As Nancy’s post explains, the students and nuns lit candles on each floor of the college’s skyscraper to form a cross. This cross was visible from the street, making it an impressive sight. In later years, they also lit interior candles as a group and sang carols.

Candlelighting 1962

My favorite photo of Candlelighting shows two students, a nun, and a staff member lighting a large candle alongside a menorah! I’d never seen evidence of Jewish life on Mundelein’s campus, and this representation of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah was a lovely touch to the ceremony. It’s also interesting that the photo’s perspective is focused on the menorah lighting, with the Catholic candle taking a background role. Though it may seem odd that an archival photo could feel special, this one is to me because of my family’s dual faiths. I grew up practicing both Catholic and Jewish traditions, and it’s important to me to find ways to represent both religions. Lighting candles carries across both of them.

Candlelighting with a menorah 1965

Another Mundelein tradition was the Cantata, a kind of holiday pageant based around the story of Christmas. Students wore a variety of costumes and the school choirs performed. I enjoyed the photos of students in interesting outfits – their costumes remind me of the red bow ties our school choir wore in our Christmas pageants!

Some photos of the Cantata choir in the Mundelein papers reminded me of the wonderful experiences I’ve had in choir throughout high school and college. We wore long black dresses (the men wore suit and tie). Each December, my high school’s choirs would perform holiday music in the gym for the whole school. It was always a highlight of the school year to sing all the music on which my friends and I worked so hard. I am sure it was the same for the Cantata choirs.

My high school choir friends at our December 2012 concert – I’m in the front row, second from left

In December of my senior year at the University of Oregon, my choir also performed a holiday concert, which I enjoyed immensely. Maybe I’ll be able to find time to join a choir at Loyola next year – we’ll see!

That’s me in the front! Time for a solo! Repertoire Singers performing at the University of Oregon Fall Concert in December 2016

To close, I’ve inaugurated a new holiday tradition of my own. I go to see a choral concert every December, and the last two years I’ve been lucky enough to see the famous group Chanticleer. In 2016, I heard them in Sacramento when they visited the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, and this year I’m excited to see them in Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church in River North. It’s fun to have a tradition I can repeat for years to come and share with others, just like the Mundelein students shared with new students each year. Happy holidays!


Angela is a Graduate Assistant at the WLA and is in the first year of the MA in Public History at Loyola University Chicago. Originally from the West Coast, she is enthusiastic about swing dancing, choral music, and pub trivia. Angela is also a devoted National Public Radio listener.

 


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.

Collections Highlight: The Gravity-Defying Botanist

When we think of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) today, what comes to mind are trips to Mars and robots on the moon. However, NASA has been supporting students and professors through research grants since its inception in 1958. The WLA collection is fortunate to house the collection of a woman whose work was supported by a NASA grant: Alice Bourke Hayes, a biology professor, Associate Academic Vice President, University President, and all around amazing woman.

Dr. Alice Bourke Hayes in 1959

Alice Bourke Hayes was born in 1937 in Chicago, Illinois. She received her B.S. in Biology from Mundelein College in 1959, and her M.S. in Botany from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1960. After receiving her PhD in Biological Sciences from Northwestern University in 1972, she returned to Rogers Park as a professor and the chair of the department of Natural Sciences at Loyola University. In 1980 she became the Associate Academic Vice President at Loyola, but that did not stop her from continuing her study of botany.

A NASA Report from 1984 featuring Dr. Hayes’ Research

        

 From 1981-1985, Dr. Hayes received grant money from NASA to support her study of pinto bean plants which she had begun in 1969. Under the title, “The Role of Gravity in Regulation of Leaf Blade Form,” she used the money to “understand how the normal leaf maintains its flat form, and how the diseased leaf curls up when infected with microorganisms or exposed to air pollutants”. Dr. Hayes and her graduate students observed the responses to gravitational stimuli, rotation, and amount of indole-acetic acid (a growth hormone) on pinto bean plants’ leaf position and leaf form. In 21 notebooks within our collection, Dr. Hayes’ handwritten observations, graphs, sketches, and data tables track the multitude of experiments conducted over 16 years.

A page from the 1984 NASA Report

In her renewal proposal from 1984, Dr. Hayes summarized what her work meant for the future of space study, and the possibilities of future work:

-For significance of the research: “This could have valuable applications in plant pathology, ecology, and photosynthesis research” (pg. 16)

-For future work: “…gravimorphic phenomena should be investigated in true zero g environments…” (pg. 15)

“The possibility of a gravity-based regulatory mechanism in leaves, clearly indicated by the pinto bean studies, could be confirmed or rejected by studies in the Space Shuttle” (pg. 16)

I am not going to pretend like I fully understand exactly what her data says, but I am not pretending when I say, it is unbelievably cool to have data in our archives that could be used in space.

Dr. Hayes’ Journal from 1971

Dr. Hayes encompasses the true drive and passion scientists have: she did not need to study pinto bean plants for 16 years, nor was it part of her contract as Associate Academic Vice President; she did not even use the grant money to pay herself. Her passion, loyalty, and dedication to the field of science is obvious and infectious- read her papers and journals here at the WLA and find out for yourself!


Emily is a Graduate Assistant at the WLA and is in her first year in the joint Public History/Library Information Science program with Loyola University Chicago and Dominican University. She enjoys going on long walks with her puppy, visiting cool museums, and cheering on the White Sox during baseball season.

 


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.

 

Remembering Fall at Mundelein

Now that the clocks have rolled back, temperatures have dropped, and scarves have made an appearance, it’s obvious fall is in full swing. Early November is a great time to embrace the nostalgic spirit of the season, cozy up in boots & flannel, and enjoy a selection of autumnal photos from the Mundelein Photograph Collection.

Mundelein College, founded and operated by the Sisters of charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM), provided education to women from 1930 to 1991 when it affiliated with Loyola University Chicago.

The Richard Twins outside Piper Hall, 1964

Biology students, 1937

Students along the lake front, n.d.

Intramural football game, n.d.

Art students, n.d.

Students share an umbrella, n.d.

Archery students, 1938

Students take a walk, n.d.

Drama students, n.d.

Torchlight Victory Celebration, Homecoming Week, November 8, 1968


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).


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.

Marie Curie and the PWAA

One of the best parts of my job at the archives is when I get to help promote interesting and meaningful stories from within our collections.  I’ve recently had the opportunity to do just that as we’ve prepared for an event called Marie Skłodowska Curie: Piecing Together the Historical PuzzleIn honor of the 150th anniversary of the birth of famed scientist, Marie Curie, the WLA co-sponsored an evening that celebrates this two-time Nobel Prize winner and talk about the impact of her immense legacy today.


Curie in her lab in Paris and with her eldest daughter Irene, who was also a scientist.

Now, you might be wondering what Marie Curie has to do with the WLA.  Rest assured, her papers are stored at France’s Bibliotheque Nationale (some even require researchers sign a waiver to access, as they are still radioactive – a term coined by Curie!).  The WLA however does have the papers of the Polish Women’s Alliance of America (PWAA), and therein lies our Curie connection.

The emblem for the PWAA – “Forward together with pride”

The PWAA founded in 1898, at a time when women in the United States had neither the right to vote nor equal access to life insurance.  Stefania Chmielinkska, a Polish immigrant and seamstress living in Chicago, created the fraternal benefit society run by women with the mission of helping their peers become self-sufficient and find financial stability. They helped women support themselves and their families through access to insurance and other benefits, taught them to manage finances and be independent, and celebrated their cultural heritage.  Such benefit societies had traditionally been exclusively male, but Chmielinska and her colleagues empowered women to work towards equality, even publishing their own newspaper entitled, “Głos Polek” or “The Polish Women’s Voice,” which is still published today.

A blank copy of a PWAA insurance certificate from the 1920s

From those bold beginnings, the PWA grew into a national organization and expanded its mission of aid and support to a global level.  In the 1920s, when Marie Curie made several trips to the United States to garner support for her research, the PWAA mobilized and help fund the purchase of radium to give to Curie for her work.  As a fellow Polish woman, the PWAA also made Curie an honorary member of the organization.

A scan of a letter from Marie Curie to members of the PWAA, dated 1923

Just like saying Curie was a scientist doesn’t do credit to her incredible life and pioneering legacy, neither does saying the PWAA is a humanitarian organization do justice to their long history of helping women and families in the U.S. and abroad.  From sending aid and supporting hospitals in Poland during and after the World Wars, to helping to restore the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and establishing scholarships for American students, the PWAA is an organization that takes significant action in empowering individuals and communities.  They reminded me that we can take pride in our roots and our history, while still looking forward and working towards the future. I encourage you to learn more about this special and unique collection at the WLA here.

Dancing at the PWAA Youth Convention 1974


Kate is a Graduate Assistant at the WLA and in the second year of her M.A. in Public History at Loyola University Chicago. A Colorado gal, she enjoys classic films, bike riding, and all things museums.

 

 


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.

Appreciating Music: Frances M. Harley & Tri-M Music Honor Society

When I started my graduate assistantship at the Women and Leadership Archives, I was expecting to learn about strong and interesting women.  However, I was not expecting to have a personal connection to a collection.

I grew up in Park Ridge, Illinois and attended Maine South High School. I was very involved in fine arts, and by my senior year I was co-president of both the orchestra and Tri-M, an international music society.

Coincidentally, the WLA has the collection of Frances M. Harley, a co-founder of Tri-M!

The Tri-M Loyalty Song

Frances M. Mikkelson was born in 1914 and immediately showed an interest in music. A student at Mundelein College in the 1930s, Frances was heavily involved in Choir and glee club- where she met her future husband, substitute choir director Alexander M. Harley. Fast-forward to 1936, Frances M Mikkelson was Frances M. Harley and a recent graduate of Mundelein College. The couple moved to Park Ridge in June 1936, where Alexander was the chairman of the music department at Maine Township High School (now Maine East High School) and Frances was the director of four choirs and taught private lessons in piano, composition theory, and voice.

Shortly after their move, the power couple co-founded the “crowning achievement of Frances’ life,” the Maine Music Masters Honors Society. The society was created as a music example of a scholastic honor society to encourage “music students to become further involved in their music studies and hopefully, strive for a more professional approach to the utilization of their talents”.

The Tri-M Emblem

Using an old mimeograph machine, Frances and her husband sent out 900 letters across Illinois, getting only five replies; but that did not deter them from creating a supportive community for music students. Run almost exclusively from their home in Park Ridge, the society was primarily part of the Maine Township school district from 1936-1952, when it was expanded to the national level. Outgrowing the “Maine” part of their name, it officially changed to “Modern Music Masters”, and in 1956, it was recognized internationally. By 1972, there were over 125,000 members and honorary members from around the world.

A newspaper headline from 1994

Not much has changed from the original Tri-M group (Tri-M One based out of Maine East High School); the same loyalty song is sung at every new member initiation and the same three ‘M’ cutouts (pictured below) appear at every awards ceremony. The society is still largely student-led and offers a community for students from all musical backgrounds who are serious about their future. Chapters around the world are active in their school and outside communities through volunteering, fundraising, and leadership roles.

Me presenting awards to Tri-M members

I am proud to be a former leader of such a long-standing and inspirational group. I am even more proud to be a graduate assistant in an archive that holds the collections of strong and influential women like Frances Harley, a woman who did not just change Park Ridge, but changed the lives of music students around the world.

Come to the archives to check out Frances Harley’s collection, including her dissertation on Hungarian folk music!

More information on Tri-M can be found here.


Emily is a Graduate Assistant at the WLA and is in her first year in the joint Public History/Library Information Science program with Loyola University Chicago and Dominican University. She enjoys going on long walks with her puppy, visiting cool museums, and cheering on the White Sox during baseball season.

 


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.

8th Day Center for Justice, the ERA, and the Abortion Argument

Imagine, for a moment, that you are asked to make a political decision that could help a lot of women across the United States. However, if you support it, you worry that many women would be able to do actions that you find abhorrent. This is the situation in which many Catholics found themselves during the 1970s and 1980s debate over the Equal Rights Amendment. Did it really promote abortion, like some people said?

Controversy often follows religious organizations because they can hold contentious views, and the 8th Day Center for Social Justice is one Chicago-area example. Funded by numerous Catholic congregations, the Chicago-based center began in the 1970s as a coalition of six progressive Catholic groups. These men and women viewed the present day as the eighth day of creation, where God will judge mankind and provide salvation to those who followed his teachings. 8th Day believed that its duty was to deliver justice to the world.

The 8th Day Center wanted social reform. Using “action” as a “tool for creating radical spaces of dialogue with systems of power,” the coalition worked with other faith-centered organizations to incite real change. 8th Day also believed in defending the security and wellbeing of women around the world, especially in the United States.

During the 1980s, one of the 8th Day Center’s most visible lobbying efforts revolved around national attempts to add the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution. The ERA voiced a simple message: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

This may seem like a straightforward request to equalize the rights of Americans who identify as female. However, it set off a storm of debate between institutions over what kinds of rights would be encompassed under the amendment. American representatives of the Roman Catholic Church struggled to find their place in the discussion. As cited by the Chicago affiliate of the National Council on Catholic Bishops, the Church did not condone the amendment’s implications for women’s reproductive actions, such as abortions. Ultimately, the Catholic Church, a heavily patriarchal system, would not support the ERA.

The Catholic Church placed 8th Day in an awkward position: to articulate a position on the ERA, the 8th Day Center needed to adhere to both their social justice purpose and their Catholic tradition. The organization attempted to do that by balancing on a legal argument. In their March 1984 newsletter to their subscribers, 8th Day wrote that Catholics could support the Equal Rights Amendment because the legislation did not legally support abortion. Based on its legislative history, intent, and “scope,” the ERA did not apply to “situations that [derive] from the unique physical characteristics of one sex.” 8th Day went on to explain that “…laws dealing with abortion” at the local or state level “would not be affected one way or another by the ERA because the ERA does not apply to these situations…” They held up a legal argument to their audience of social justice-oriented Catholics.

In short, the center tried to remain in the middle of a major fight by promoting a legal argument to its consumers. It was, and remains, unclear if and how the ERA would have been used to support abortion. Potentially, progressive Catholics could have supported the ERA and maintained their faith because it meant choosing the real positives of gender quality over the hypothetical (though major) negative of abortion promotion.

Not all of the readers of the 8th Day Center’s newsletter agreed with the official stance

I think the 8th Day make a reasonable legal point. The famous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case had determined the scope of federal involvement in abortions in the United States in 1973, a decade before 8th Day published this edition of their newsletter. The case’s decision and opinions are worth careful reading. However, that argument does not begin to address the faith-based questions surrounding the ERA, abortion, and Catholic morality. As a matter of fact, the 8th Day avoided the issues entirely because it was so focused on what the ERA did not legally endorse.

In conclusion, when the 8th Day Center for Social Justice lobbied for the Equal Rights Amendment, it entered a complex social and religious fight. It tangled with issues of feminism, women’s reproductive health rights, and religious lobbying. 8th Day continued its social justice activism and became well-known in the Chicago area. Unfortunately, forty-three years later, 8th Day is closing its doors due to unsustainable funding problems. Though it is sad to see them close, it is inspiring that they want everyone to carry on the message of the eighth day of creation: to be “responsible” for “[bringing] the world into fullness of being.”


Angela is a Graduate Assistant at the WLA and is in the first year of the MA in Public History at Loyola University Chicago. Originally from the West Coast, she is enthusiastic about swing dancing, choral music, and pub trivia. Angela is also a devoted National Public Radio listener.

 


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.

Summer in the Archives: Processing the Carol Mosely Braun Collection

Hello, everyone! My name is Megan and I’m starting my second year of undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago. I’m a history/pre-law major and I’m also a member of Pi Beta Phi Sorority. Now, you may be wondering what a South Side college student like me is doing all the way up here in Rogers Park. Well, I’ve been interning here at the Women and Leadership Archives (WLA)! This summer I have had the amazing opportunity to serve the Black Metropolis Research Consortium (BMRC) and the WLA as the Archie Motley Archival Intern. My duties as an intern were to process and archive the collection of Carol Moseley Braun.

Carol Moseley Braun’s headshot from her time as a US Senator.

Disclaimer: I had little to no knowledge of archives/archiving prior to accepting this internship. When I applied, I viewed archivist as next-level librarians (not a bad thing). I imagined them to be confined to dark, basement-level archives, guarding manuscripts and harboring an inexhaustible knowledge of all things. What I learned, though, is that my imagination is much too active and that archivists are simply humans who love preserving history and knowledge. Working in the WLA and processing Carol Moseley Braun’s papers taught me not only the basics of archiving, but also the importance of maintaining and protecting archives, especially those dedicated to women and other minority groups. Working on Ms. Moseley Braun’s collection has especially highlighted this for me.

A campaign button from Moseley Braun’s Senate campaign.

Before interning at the WLA this summer, I had never heard of Carol Moseley Braun and was totally unaware of the major waves she made in American history. She attended and graduated from the University of Chicago’s Law School, was the first female African American U.S. Senator, and was responsible for getting the Confederate flag removed from Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) signage. She served as Ambassador to New Zealand and even ran for president in 2003. Ms. Moseley Braun is truly an icon and, yet, I feel that almost no one outside of Chicago or politics gives her the credit she is very well due. Institutions like the BMRC and the WLA, though, make it their missions to highlight figures like Carol Moseley Braun and ensure that their voices are and will forever be heard.

My time here at the WLA has sadly come to a close, but I have enjoyed every moment of it! I learned so much about archiving from the women I worked with and learned so much about history from the woman’s collection I worked on. I will take everything I learned and take it with me onto my next adventure.

Megan and Melanie, two WLA interns, combing through the collection


Megan Naylor was the Archie Motley Archival Intern for summer 2017.  She is completing a Bachelors of Arts at The University of Chicago, with plans to pursue history and pre-law curriculum. She is a member of the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women and was previously the president of her high school’s National Honor Society.


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