#ColorOurCollections: social media and the archives

Social-networks logoSocial media has become an important and valuable tool for cultural institutions such as archives, libraries, and museums. Technology has changed the way people seek information and relate to the world around them. This means that archives that make connecting with the public a priority must stay informed with how their audience is communicating and get creative with their outreach.At the WLA, we use this blog and our Facebook page, along with our website, to share news and cool things from the archives in order to inform the community about the useful and interesting collections we have here.

This year, I have been in charge of running these pages, which has been quite a learning experience. Finding what your audience will think is interesting and will want to engage with is definitely a process. Photos that I think are fascinating, may be downright dull to our followers.

For a recent class assignment, I looked at how archives and museums use Twitter to connect with the public. Although this is a social media platform that the WLA does not use at this time, as the social media coordinator here, it was interesting and helpful to see the ways other institutions use Twitter to connect with people, especially younger groups. It reminded me that social media is not only a tool useful for reaching your audience, but also for connecting with other institutions to share ideas and learn from each other.

During my exploration, I came across a really awesome event called Color Our Collections week, which took place February 1-5. Museums, archives, and libraries turned historic photos, artwork, and images of artifacts into coloring pages people could print and color. Anyone could (and still can) search #colorourcollections and find coloring pages and even whole books from all over the country. I thought this was a very fun way to share collections and get kids and adults (hey, coloring is cool for adults now) to engage with history, science, and art.

An example from the United States National Archives

An example from the United States National Archives

Of course, I couldn’t let the WLA be completely left out of the fun, so I tried my hand at turning some of our photos and artwork into coloring pages! Turns out, I’m not so great at it. However, here are a few for you to try out! I hope you enjoy coloring the WLA collections! I know I will!

If you or your kiddos color our pages, please share your creation through Facebook or email it to WLArchives@luc.edu!

 

Virginia Broderick coloring pageVirginia Broderick coloring page

 

Mercedes McCambridge Coloring pageMercedes McCambridge coloring page

 

Mollie West coloring pageMollie West coloring page

 

MC Drama 1935 coloring page

Mundelein College Drama, 1935 coloring page

 


Caroline blog photo
Caroline Lynd Giannakopoulos is a Graduate Assistant at the WLA and is working on her Master’s in Public History at Loyola University Chicago. She spends her spare time exploring Chicago, interpreting dreams, and watching cheesy movies with her husband.

 


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.


Valentine’s Blast from the Past

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I went in search of something from Mundelein College.* I found this ad in the Skyscraper, the College’s weekly student-produced newspaper.

1968-01-26 (4)
Newspaper ads are a fascinating window in time and this one from January 26, 1968, is no exception. Note the name of the company, Psychedelic Photo Company. The word psychedelic came into being in 1956 from the Greek psyche- “mind” + deloun- “make visible” from delos “visible, clear,” + dyeu- “to shine.” Popular use began in 1965 referencing anything producing effects similar to using a psychedelic drug or enhancing the effects of said drug.

Over the years, I’ve heard the term psychedelic innumerable times, however, this may be the first time as the name of a business. I Googled the company out of curiosity to see if it still existed and alas, no.

Notice the details of the ad. What a bargain price for a black and white or color poster. (How I wish current shipping prices cost 25 cents.) If you hurried after January 26th, when the ad came out in the Skyscraper, you could get a poster in two weeks, in time to give to your Valentine!

 

*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. The Women and Leadership Archives (WLA) at Loyola holds the records of Mundelein College.


 

IMG_0021-149x110Nancy Freeman became Director of the WLA in spring, 2013. Prior to that, Nancy was an archivist and records manager at a wildlife research facility for the USDA in Colorado. Nancy has worked in the archival field since 1999. When not at the WLA, Nancy enjoys spending time with her family and knitting.

 


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.


Preserving the Paris Attacks

On November 13, 2015, Paris experienced a shocking series of attacks that resulted in the deaths of one hundred and thirty innocent people. The entire world joined Paris and the whole of France in their grief, expressing their anger, sadness, and aspirations for peaceful reconciliation through outpourings on social media, news coverage, and more tangibly, by leaving letters, drawings, and other tokens of mourning at the sites of the tragedies. Three months after the events, Paris archivists continue the lengthy process of preserving these mementos in the city’s archives.

This semester, the WLA Graduate Assistants are taking the Archives and Records Management class offered by Loyola’s History Department as part of our degree program. As an assignment for the class, we were asked to pick an archives-related story in recent news and examine the questions about archival practice it inspires. The ongoing preservation of the relics left behind at the memorials of the November 13th attacks, and the issues raised concerning the archivist’s responsibility to objectively preserve documents for future generations while balancing the obligation felt by society to honor the memories of victims of traumatic events, fascinated me to no end.

Photo by Francois Mori/Associated Press (image url: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/21/arts/design/in-paris-archivists-preserve-tokens-of-grief.html?_r=0)

Photo by Francois Mori/Associated Press (image url: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/21/arts/design/in-paris-archivists-preserve-tokens-of-grief.html?_r=0)

 

In light of the terrorist attacks that took place in Paris last November, archivists working with city cleaning staff and volunteers for the city of Paris archives are preserving the surplus of notes, drawings, cards, and flowers left at the Bataclan concert hall, La Belle Équipe, and the remaining targets. A Huffington Post article reported that the process of preservation began a week after the attacks occurred but picked up in significant force by December. Teams of city employees and volunteers collected hundreds of thousands of items while photographing the changing appearance of the memorials.

PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 17: Flowers and candles are seen at the memorial for the victims of Paris terror attacks in front of Bataclan, Boulevard Voltaire in Paris, France on November 17, 2015. Photo by Geoffroy Van der Hasselt/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images (image url: http://fox61.com/2015/12/15/paris-to-save-notes-and-drawings-left-after-the-attacks/)

PARIS, FRANCE – NOVEMBER 17: Flowers and candles are seen at the memorial for the victims of Paris terror attacks in front of Bataclan, Boulevard Voltaire in Paris, France on November 17, 2015. Photo by Geoffroy Van der Hasselt/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images (image url: http://fox61.com/2015/12/15/paris-to-save-notes-and-drawings-left-after-the-attacks/)

In order to preserve these precious materials for the future, they must be removed from the open elements in front of the memorials themselves and transferred to the archives where they undergo professional care, or risk natural decay that could irreparably damage the items. In these circumstances, the archivists’ role as a preservationist not only necessitates the safekeeping of the products of these memorials, but also indirectly affects the maintenance of the physical memorials themselves. Their safe removal creates more space so that more visitors may express their condolences and mourn. Yet, the removal of those artifacts may appear insensitive to the memory of the victims of the attacks.

Striking the balance between being emotionally supportive of the grieving process and being objective for the sake of future researchers is a tricky thing for the archivist to navigate. The concept of preserving the memorabilia related to tragic events is not a new one. In the United States, archivists collected materials from sites such as the ones at the Paris memorials in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in New York City. Both sets of archivists have to navigate a nebulous line between what is considered commemorative and what is considered burdensome to the natural course of everyday life.

There are no definitive solutions to the problems raised by the conservation of memorabilia related to tragic events like the Paris attacks last November; however, there is no question that the items should be preserved by archivists. Although a difficult process, it is ultimately a worthy one. I am confident the Paris city archivists will accomplish their goal of preserving the sensitive material while honoring the memories of those lost in the tragedies.

Photo by Christophe Ena/AP (image url: http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/death-toll-in-paris-attacks-hits-129-another-352-hurt-1.2658389#)

Photo by Christophe Ena/AP (image url: http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/death-toll-in-paris-attacks-hits-129-another-352-hurt-1.2658389#)

 


EllenProfilePic
Ellen is a Graduate Assistant at the WLA and is in the first year of her M.A in Public History at Loyola University Chicago. Before moving to Chicago, Ellen was a Kindergarten teacher in Louisiana. She enjoys brunch, procedural dramas, and pugs.

 


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.


Construction Paper

Imagine you are assigned the task of building a skyscraper in Chicago. Your task, should you choose to accept it, would be to make the major decisions for the project by keeping in touch with the architects and major contractors. The catch? The year is 1929 and you are located in Dubuque, Iowa, some 175 miles from Chicago. You will also have very limited access to the telephone. I sure hope you know how to use a typewriter!

The story of how Mundelein College was constructed unfolds in the letters and telegrams housed in the Mundelein College Collection located at the Women and Leadership Archives. The Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) kept the letters they received and carbon copies of the letters they sent. In-between the letters are lists of the cost of building materials, contract bids, budget reports, and general plans for the college. A majority of the letters are between Nairne Fisher, architect, and Sister Mary Realmo and Reverend Mother Isabella, head of the Order of the BVM.

An example of a copy of a letter sent by Mother Isabella.

An example of a copy of a letter sent by Mother Isabella.

 

Example of Nairne Fisher answering a question posed to him in a prior letter and an example of suggestions for substitutes in building materials

Example of Nairne Fisher answering a question posed to him in a prior letter and an example of suggestions for substitutes in building materials

 

Many of the letters are fascinating because the content of the letters can be as short as a text message or a quick email today, but others are several pages long and include additional materials related to construction. Phone calls appear rare and some letters are in response to a message left after a missed phone call. In person visits were few and far between. Without the use of today’s technology, communicating decisions about Mundelein College through letters was very important. A simple question may have taken days to get an answer. Another thing to keep in mind is that construction of Mundelein College happened during the Great Depression after the stock market crash of October 1929.

The correspondence between the sisters and the numerous people contracted to build the college, shows the dedication of the sisters to the school as well as the frustrations of planning and budgeting. Many letters are spent on managing finances and the costs of construction materials. The sisters were meticulous about ensuring quality products at reasonable prices. They ask questions for clarification and constantly crunch numbers to see where the finances stand. Some letters highlight the problems with building the college. Prices for materials sometimes went up during construction, altering the budget, or there were a few miscommunications about how something was to be done. Some of these issues may have been exacerbated by the time it took to communicate back and forth via letters.

Letters2

Very few letters were handwritten.

Looking at Mundelein College building today, I am amazed that most decisions that went into building the institution can be found in a series of letters. Nearly everything from the materials used on the exterior to the classrooms inside were decided upon without the architect or the sisters talking in person. The letters remind me to be a little more grateful that I can communicate with friends and family miles away in a matter of seconds!

A few of the letters highlighting the construction of Mundelein College

A few of the letters highlighting the construction of Mundelein College.

 


Megan Bordewyk
Megan is a Graduate Assistant at the WLA and is in the first year of her M.A in Public History at Loyola University Chicago. She is an avid movie-goer and enjoys arts and crafts, live sporting events, and small Midwestern towns.

 

 


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.


Caring for Mental Health at Deborah’s Place

Helping the homeless isn’t just about providing a roof and a bed. The Chicago organization Deborah’s Place has understood this since they began providing services to women who were currently or had previously experienced homelessness. Deborah’s Place recognized homelessness as a trauma and the formation of relationships as the road to healing. Beginning as an overnight shelter in 1985, the organization grew to include Irene’s Daytime Program, Marah’s Place transitional housing, and other programs that provided women with basic needs, education, job training, and the support needed to help them gain self-sufficiency and confidence.

The women coming to Deborah’s Place had not only suffered from not having housing, but had also often struggled with domestic violence, sexual assault, addiction, and mental illness. Along with a health services coordinator and case managers who helped each woman on her own individual journey, Irene’s Daytime Program employed a full-time art therapist. Just as showers, laundry facilities, and food provided for the physical health of participants, art therapy and classes became an essential part of caring for the mental health of these homeless women. Deborah’s Place believed these opportunities for socialization, creativity, and self-expression were just as vital to the participants’ well-being.

Several photos of art classes and projects were found in the Deborah’s Place records.

Deborah’s Place programs allowed participants to work with a variety of media.

Deborah’s Place programs allowed participants to work with a variety of media.

The participants at Marah’s, a transitional housing program, created this quilt together and submitted it in a Deborah’s Place art show.

The participants at Marah’s, a transitional housing program, created this quilt together and submitted it in a Deborah’s Place art show.

Deborah's Place004

Quilt squares made by participants at Marah’s.

Along with the health of participants, Deborah’s Place cared for the mental and emotional health of program staff. Employees were provided with opportunities to process the challenges of working with participants on a daily basis. A 1996 annual report from the Clinical Director also acknowledged that several staff members were former participants in the program who would benefit from further support in dealing with the transition in roles.

The records of Deborah’s Place reveal the building of a community based on relationships in which burdens were shared and the physical, emotional, and mental needs of all were met.

This is just one facet of this organization’s inspiring story.  To learn more about Deborah’s Place, take a look at the collection’s finding aid here.

 


 

Caroline blog photo
Caroline Lynd Giannakopoulos is a Graduate Assistant at the WLA and is working on her Master’s in Public History at Loyola University Chicago. She spends her spare time exploring Chicago, interpreting dreams, and watching cheesy movies with her husband.

 


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.


Blizzard Blitz, 1979

Chicagoland is currently experiencing frigid temperatures made worse by a biting wind. The reason this is noteworthy is because the fall of 2015 turned out to be unseasonably warm, resulting in many of us mentally unprepared for usual winter cold weather.

With forecasts for the next several days in the low teens and several inches of snow Monday night, I went in search of Mundelein College winter photos.* What I found falls under the category of “be happy it’s not worse!” In 1979, Chicago experienced a blizzard of record breaking proportions that also affected the mayoral race.

On Saturday, January 13 and Sunday, January 14th, Northern Illinois and Northwest Indiana received 21 inches of show, at the time, the second largest Chicago snowstorm in history. Five people died and 15 received serious injuries from the snowfall. Flights to and from O’Hare airport were grounded for 96 hours from January 13 to 15.

After the blizzard, cold weather and additional snowfall continued affecting Chicagoland public transportation and trash collection for months. Mayor Michael Bilandic was blamed for the city’s inadequate response to the weather. Bilandic’s main opponent in the February 27th mayoral primary, Jane Byrne, capitalized on these problems and defeated him, going on to become the first female mayor of Chicago.

Here’s what Mundelein College looked like after the 1979 snow.

1979_Student_Activities_Blizzard_Blitz Piper

1979 Blizzard Blitz: A car and bulldozer are pictured next to Piper Hall after the blizzard.

1979_Student_Activities_Blizzard_Blitz shovel

1979 Blizzard Blitz: Shoveling the sidewalks at Mundelein College.

1979_Student_Activities_Blizzard_Blitz woman

1979 Blizzard Blitz: Mundelein campus after snow plows cleared some of the snow.

1979 Blizzard Blitz: Enjoying the snow at Mundelein.

1979 Blizzard Blitz: A member of the Mundelein community enjoys the snow on cross-country skis.

 

* 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. The Women and Leadership Archives (WLA) at Loyola holds the records of Mundelein College.

 


IMG_0021-149x110Nancy Freeman became Director of the WLA in spring, 2013. Prior to that, Nancy was an archivist and records manager at a wildlife research facility for the USDA in Colorado. Nancy has worked in the archival field since 1999. When not at the WLA, Nancy enjoys spending time with her family and knitting.


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.