Loyola University Chicago, MuCuba, and Mizzou Solidarity

Last Thursday, Loyola University Chicago students held a demonstration in solidarity with the protesters at the University of Missouri. The resignation of the former president of the University of Missouri, Tim Wolfe, and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, elicited a renewed national fervor for eliminating systems of intolerance from university administration. Loyola’s own protest mirrored similar demonstrations by sympathetic student bodies across the country and aimed to address problems with diversity prevalent on our campus. Protests that occurred at other institutions also voiced their discontent with less than desirable responses to racial insensitivities by university administrators.

Photo source: Chris Walker/Chicago Tribune. Photo url: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-loyola-students-solidarity-protest-met-20151112-story.html

Photo source: Chris Walker/Chicago Tribune. Photo url: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-loyola-students-solidarity-protest-met-20151112-story.html

Recent protests at the University of Missouri and Loyola University Chicago, as well as the larger national Black Lives Matter movement and Concerned Student 1950, led me to think about the similarities between the demands of the student body now, and those of black Mundelein College students in the years following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. Mundelein College, an all-women’s catholic liberal arts college founded by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVMs) in 1929, proved a progressive stage for the discussion of race and diversity on college campuses in its time. Black Mundelein students effectively mobilized to promote administrative and academic diversity for the black community at the college, resulting in the creation of university programming, committees, and departments that addressed the concerns of black Mundelein students. Mundelein College affiliated with Loyola University Chicago in 1991.

The Mundelein College United Black Association, shortened to “MuCuba,” was a student organization founded by black Mundelein students that emerged in the later 1960’s, but gained significant visibility in the early 1970s. MuCuba strove to create a unified black presence on Mundelein’s campus and worked in many forms to achieve this goal. Throughout its history, MuCuba hosted panels, fashion shows, and an annual celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. that attracted numerous attendees within the Mundelein community as well as interested Chicagoans. MuCuba students advocated for safe spaces to voice their ideas and hold forums for productive discussions of race and diversity on Mundelein College’s campus. Significantly, the association also fought for the inclusion of a Black Studies program into Mundelein’s curriculum to address historically oppressive practices and policies toward black Americans in the United States.

Picture Source: MuCuba Members. 1970 Yearbook, page 18. Mundelein College Collection.

Picture Source: MuCuba Members. 1970 Yearbook, page 18. Mundelein College Collection.

In a forum held on May 15, 1970, MuCuba students presented the Mundelein community and administration a list of demands that addressed the institutionalized racism they saw and experienced as women of color on a largely white campus. MuCuba students gave the president of Mundelein, Sr. Ann Ida Gannon, BVM, and university administrators a ten day deadline to respond. The urgency exhibited by these students exemplified their belief that the administration must hold themselves both personally and professionally accountable for the livelihood of its black student body.

Gannon acted swiftly in response to the demands. According to a letter Gannon wrote a day after the presentation of the demands, the president expressed a hope that Mundelein would fulfill the demands in a manner that could satisfy the protesters and institute a response that had lasting influence for years to come. She wrote, “Your demands indicate that you trust us to respond and I expect us to respond to that trust.” On May 19th, Gannon scheduled a day long assembly of an ad hoc committee to discuss the demands of the black students. Within the deadline, Gannon presented a lengthy response to the demands and recommendations for their effective implementation on Mundelein’s campus. Many of those recommendations became official programs and departments implemented the next semester.

Picture Source: Anne Ida Gannon Letter, Folder F.8.13.a. Mundelein College Collection.Women and Leadership Archives

Picture Source: Anne Ida Gannon Letter, Folder F.8.13.a. Mundelein College Collection.Women and Leadership Archives

The demands and subsequent compromises resulted in the creation and eventual implementation of Mundelein College’s Black Studies program with a faculty interviewed and evaluated by black students. Beginning the fall semester of 1970, the new program aligned with MuCuba’s efforts to create a unified black on-campus culture. Creation of the Black Studies department at Mundelein also displayed an acknowledgement by the faculty that greater attention to problems of diversity on Mundelein’s campus was needed in order to eradicate racism and promote better understanding of the problems of black students on campus. A Human Relations Committee composed of faculty, administration, college staff, and students also emerged as a result of the ad hoc committee assembly held on May 19th. The Committee developed programming to aid the Mundelein community in recognizing personal prejudice and to help students, faculty, and administration better understand the experiences of black students. Furthermore, the demands resulted in a Black Scholarship Fund and a Black Scholarship Fund Committee that raised and dispensed funds for black students that wished to attend Mundelein.

MuCubaDemands01

Document Source: “Demands” Folder F.8.13.a. Mundelein College Collection. Women and Leadership Archives.

Document Source: “Demands” Folder F.8.13.a. Mundelein College Collection. Women and Leadership Archives.

Both of the student bodies, Loyola University Chicago’s now and Mundelein’s in the 1970s, articulated similar goals and used comparable strategies to affect change on their campuses. Like MuCuba, Loyola University Chicago student protesters presented the interim president John P. Pelissero with a list of “concerns” as they relate to the experience of students of color on-campus. Although the list does not appear to be publicly available, a statement by President Pelissero stated that “the Office of Student Development, the Office of the Provost, and Human Resources will collaborate to advance this campus conversation.” Further, he remarked that University leaders will discuss the concerns and continue the dialogue in the coming weeks so that the “momentum” from last week’s demonstration is not lost.

Similarities between Loyola’s current atmosphere of racial protest and the actions of past Mundelein students are unmistakable. Both groups of students, past and present, expressed frustration and unhappiness with the culture of racial intolerance they saw enacted at their institutions. Each set of protesters presented demands to university administration with the expectation of campus leadership listening to their concerns and responding with appropriate action. Mundelein’s successful protests resulted in the creation of programs that endeavored to ease racial tensions and promote thoughtful dialogue about issues of diversity on their campus. Loyola’s present outlook is more uncertain, but I am optimistic the result will be the same.

It is important to place conversations such as these in a historical context. It is also undeniably important to advocate for students to be able to exercise their right for self-expression, especially as it relates to problems of diversity and race on our campus. Knowing that MuCuba successfully advocated for greater attention to their plight on Mundelein’s campus should provide student protesters in the present proper inspiration to continue their fight against racial injustice. Success stories like MuCuba’s will hopefully encourage the Loyola University Chicago protesters to continue to hold the administration accountable for their on-campus experience, and push further for substantive change so that demonstrations will not be so necessary in the future.

 


EllenProfilePicEllen 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.


The Girls Scouts and Patricia Caron Crowley

Patricia Caron Crowley was born in 1913 in Chicago, Illinois. She went to school in the city and was very involved in Girl Scouts. In 1932, the summer after Patricia graduated from high school, she was selected to take part in an International Girl Guide Camp. The camp took place in Enniskerry, Ireland. The trip also included sightseeing in England and France. She was one of only ten girls and three guides from America at the camp. Patricia was chosen on merit. Earlier that year she earned the golden eaglet award, which was the highest Girl Scout Honor.

250 girls attended the camp from Ireland, the British Isles, Canada, Australia, India, Finland, Belgium, France, and the U.S. In an essay found in one of the scrapbooks, Patricia wrote that the girls slept on paillasses stuffed with straw. The girls cooked their own food in large swinging iron pots and they ate sitting on ground sheets with flat boards for tables. Patricia observed that camping in Ireland was different than in America and she greatly enjoyed learning the differences in cultures. After the international camp, Patricia traveled to England and France. In total, Patricia spent six weeks abroad touring as a Girl Scout. Almost two full were spent traveling by boat from and to New York.

Two of the scrapbooks containing memories of Patricia Caron Crowley’s time as a Girl Scout. The brown scrapbook is from her Ireland trip.

Patricia created several scrapbooks detailing her time as a Girl Scout. She dedicated one full scrapbook to her time abroad for the International Girl Guide Camp. Letters, newspaper clippings, telegrams, photographs, ticket stubs, and postcards fill numerous pages. Patricia extensively wrote about the trip in the Ireland scrapbook. From the content of the scrapbook, Patricia kept most everything from her time abroad, including the menus from the ships she took from and to the United States. Her scrapbooks highlight her time abroad as a Girl Scout but the books also have much broader themes about international travel and culture.

Itinerary from Patricia’s international Girl Scout trip

Itinerary from Patricia’s international Girl Scout trip

Page from Ireland scrapbook showing Patricia’s extensive journaling about the trip.

Page from Ireland scrapbook showing Patricia’s extensive journaling about the trip.

Based on photographs and her journaling, Patricia’s Girl Scout experience was quite different from my own but that is what makes her collection so fascinating. I spent a significant amount of my childhood in the Girl Scouts organization. Patricia’s collection is interesting because she was in Girl Scouts during the early years of the organization. From her detailed scrapbooks I can see how Girl Scouts today has changed and adapted to modern times. Like Patricia, I remember camping, singing songs, and learning life skills. However, in my experience, uniforms were less important and were only worn for very special events. Patricia was expected to have several uniform changes for her trip abroad. In her scrapbooks, Patricia noted a religious aspect to the Girl Scout organization. Many guides had religious backgrounds and the participants of the international camp went to hear several religious speakers. As I remember it, religion played no part in my Girl Scouting experience.

Photos from a scrapbook page showing time spent at a Girl Scout camp in the U.S.

Photos from a scrapbook page showing time spent at a Girl Scout camp in the U.S.

The Girl Scouts organization turned 100 in 2012. Patricia experienced a rare trip that very few other American Girl Scouts ever had the chance to take part in. Her dedication and involvement in the organization when she was young highlights why Girl Scouts still exists today. As the organization moves into the future, Patricia’s collection will become more important to show the early years of Girl Scouts. Her scrapbooks highlight not only Girl Scouts but scouting organizations for girls all over the world. As a former Girl Scout, I hope the organization continues to grow and provide opportunities for girls. Of course, I hope those girls remember to keep as thorough a record of their Girl Scout adventures as Patricia Caron Crowley. Years from now, someone like me might be interested in what was on the menu!

 

Patricia, in uniform, on a boat during her international Girl Scout trip in 1932

Patricia, in uniform, on a boat during her international Girl Scout trip in 1932

Me in my brownie uniform

Me in my brownie uniform

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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.


What’s in a homemaker’s collection?

The Women and Leadership Archives has many strengths in its collections. We have many about women who were leaders in activism and environmental issues, and others from women who dedicated their lives to public service, social justice, education, and the arts. In browsing the archives, it is easy to recognize why the papers of these women were chosen to be preserved, but sometimes you come across collections that are not as obvious.

In scrolling through the collections listed on the WLA website, I found the papers of Agatha Rosetti Hessley. Under her name, it simply said “homemaker.” As a woman raised by a stay-at-home mom, I wholeheartedly believe in the value and importance of these women who devote their lives to their families. However, in this list of women and organizations recognized for their public leadership, I wondered what her collection held that the archivist felt would be useful to researchers.

Agatha Hessley was not a politician. Her collection gives no evidence of her participation in any social activism. She did nothing that made her notably influential to anyone other than her own family and friends. She was not an artist, an educator, or an academic.

Yet, her two boxes sit on a shelf in the archives between those of social justice organizations, alderwomen, and college presidents.

Why?

This question leads me back to the reason women’s archives like the WLA exist in the first place. Because early archives focused on government and military documents, women and other groups left out of the public sphere were not represented in the historical record. Specialized archives were created to preserve the papers that documented the contributions of women and other marginalized groups. Although Agatha Hessley, like many women of her time, did not have a career outside of her home, she still made a valuable contribution to history and the archives.

A letter from Agatha to Rita, found in the Agatha Rosetti Hessley Collection.

A letter from Agatha to Rita Hessley, found in the Agatha Rosetti Hessley Collection.

Agatha Hessley’s collection offers a unique look into a time of transformation in the United States and the world. Her two archival boxes hold the letters that Agatha wrote to her daughter, Rita, between 1970 and 1993. In them, Agatha describes the major life events of her family and her daily routines. She also gives her perspective on historical events such as Watergate, the 1970’s oil crisis, and the Gulf War. As a devout Catholic, Agatha often wrote about the Roman Catholic Church and her observations of the changes that took place after Vatican II. Throughout decades of great conflict and change, Agatha’s letters offer a glimpse into how these changes affected an average American woman.

Although she may be simply labeled as a “homemaker,” Agatha’s letters reveal her to be an engaging writer. Excerpts from her letters, especially those concerning changes in the Roman Catholic Church, were published in a book in 2005 by MaryEllen O’Brien entitled Living in Ordinary Times: The Letters of Agatha Rosetti Hessley.

As time goes on, the collection of Agatha Rosetti Hessley will continue to provide information and inspiration to researchers.

Agatha Hessley and her daughter Rita, 1994

Agatha Hessley and her daughter, Rita, 1994

 


 

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. When not scrapbooking, 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.


Explor(ing) Cool Chicago Collections

If you are a history buff, an experienced researcher, or have even a mild interest in Chicago history and culture– drop everything you are doing and go to the Explore Chicago Collections website.

Have you done it yet? I’ll wait.

Now that you are up to speed, let the gushing begin. Explore Chicago Collections is the newly launched digital portal that connects hundreds of collections from various archives, museums, and cultural institutions from all over the city of Chicago. Broken down into general topics such as, ‘Events,’ ‘Government,’ ‘Daily Life,’ etc., anyone with an internet connection can easily find collections of interest to them, or even stumble upon something they did not know existed. The collections are also divided by neighborhoods, so anyone with an interest in their community’s history can easily access related collections. Neighborhoods are listed alphabetically for researchers’ ease and convenience.

Even better, the attractive and user friendly interface of the website allows for students and researchers of all skill levels to interact with the archival material of Chicago. From the main page, you can easily choose a general topic and narrow your research from there. For example, are you interested in learning how Chicago residents spent their recreational time in the old days? Great! By clicking on the “Recreation & Leisure” tab, a viewer can see every member institution’s collections pertaining to that topic in one place. From there, researchers can use various tags to refine their search, or simply use the “search” bar at the top of the page! Did I mention it was all in one place? It is all in one place. Plus, it’s free!!

Picture courtesy of http://chicagocollections.org/. It’s so beautiful. I think I might cry

Picture courtesy of http://chicagocollections.org/. It’s so beautiful. I think I might cry

This excellent website was made possible by a grant awarded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the University of Illinois at Chicago Library in partnership with Chicago Collections, the partnership organization comprising of all of the member institutions that make up the portal, ‘Explore Chicago Collections.’ Chicago Collections’ proclaims itself to be a “consortium of libraries, museums, and other institutions with archives that collaborate to preserve and share the history of the Chicago region.” To learn more about the initiative, click here.

At the moment, the Chicago Collections “consortium” is still growing. Eighteen members comprise the alliance, including such prominent institutions as the Chicago History Museum, the Art Institute, the Newberry Library, and of course Loyola University Chicago. It should be of no surprise that the Women and Leadership archives’ collections are featured on the Explore Chicago Collections website. Click here to see the WLA’s collections online. The promise of more institutions joining the collective is an exciting prospect for researchers of all ages and Chicago history lovers all over the country. As more institutions partner with Chicago Collections, more and more material will become known and accessed through the website. The age of scouring cities on the search for resource material for various projects is quickly and effectively disappearing.

Dear Chicago Collections, allow me to thank you on behalf of all harried and overly caffeinated graduate students frantically writing term papers and working on their dissertations. You are a lifesaver. I think I might cry.


 

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.


My Typical Day at the WLA

“What’s a typical day like for you at the WLA?” Several weeks ago, a Masters in Information Science (MIS) student asked me that question. I gave her my usual response:  “That’s a bit tough as there really isn’t a typical.”

I’ve been an archivist for almost 16 years. At my previous workplace, over the course of my 13 years there, at least six library school students interviewed me. It is a popular assignment in graduate archival classes for a student to interview a professional. In every prior instance, and now twice here at Loyola, I’ve been asked something along the lines of “what do you do in a day?”

The first time someone asked me the question, I distinctly remember looking at the student, and slightly panicking. I felt totally thrown by the question and I believe I stared at her for several seconds with my mouth open. I seemed to have no idea how to answer because I’d never really analyzed what I did in a typical day. Sure, I had a job description and specific duties, however, the days were so varied that I had no idea where to start. I remember stammering something, which I later hoped sounded slightly coherent, about how the work days just were not typical.

I feel the need to explain a bit here about the archival field. Some archivists have more specialized archival jobs than I have had in my two jobs in the field. For instance, there are reference archivists that pretty much only answer reference questions, like in a university/ college setting or a state archives. In addition, there are processing archivists and their jobs are to process (organize) collections and archival records. Archives also run the gamut of large staffs, say ten archivists, to smaller staffs of two or three and down to places like the WLA, that employ one professional archivist. In a larger staff archives, the archivists tend to be more specialized, focusing on just several archival tasks.

At my previous job and now at the WLA, I’ve been a generalist and the only professionally trained archivist. That means my job description includes all types of archival activities such as answering reference questions; processing or overseeing processing; supervising students; conducting programming/outreach activities; dealing with website content; and creating/installing exhibits.

Now back to a typical day for me. Two factors affect my work at the WLA. The first occurs because I’m the Director and the only professionally trained archivist, with a staff of graduate students.  I’m the point person for reference requests, some of which can be immediate. It’s not unusual for someone at Loyola, think of the PR department folks, to ask a collection related question and want the answer as soon as possible.

I’m also responsible for administrative details, often time sensitive, involved in running an archive in a university setting. Think now of general paperwork and specific human resource type responses. Plus, I do everything from contacting facilities because a light is burned out in the hallway to dealing with the small amount of water that came into the basement archives after the last heavy rain.

The second factor affecting my work at the WLA is tasks that occur under the category of “duties otherwise not specified,” a term I learned in the 1980s when I worked as a social worker for the state of Iowa. My job description included that phrase and every once in a while my supervisor reminded me of it, particularly when I balked at doing something he wanted me to do. “But it’s not in my job description,” I’d say to him at which time he’d reply back, “Yes it is. It’s under duties otherwise not specified.”

Things come up in the work day that aren’t technically in my job description, however, are still tasks I need or want to do. An example is that every once in a while I run into someone at Piper Hall, where the WLA is located, who wants a tour of the beautiful 1909 mansion. I know pertinent Piper Hall history so I gladly give them tour on the spot. It’s not in my job description to be tour guide, however, I’d have a hard time saying no and besides, it’s fun.

At this point, I’m going to loop back around to the nice MIS student interview several weeks ago and my answer to the usual question. I’ve now done this enough so I didn’t look at her with my mouth open, akin to a deer in the headlights. Instead, I talked about what often happens in a day for me as WLA Director. Before I went into the typical, however, I gave her the caveat of how a planned day’s work can change quickly depending on who e-mails, calls, or walks in the WLA door needing something immediate.

A usual day involves one or two meetings and on average, I have six to eight scheduled meetings per week. The WLA is part of Loyola’s Library system and the Gannon Center for Women, meaning my meeting quotient is higher given my involvement with both entities. Through the Library, I’m on four committees and chair one.  Three of the library committees are monthly and sometimes entail tasks be done between meetings. In addition, I may meet with a professor regarding a WLA collaborative class project, talk with a donor at her home, or plan an event with a community group.

Another part of a typical day involves supervising the work of the WLA’s wonderful Graduate Assistants (GAs), without which the Archives could not function as well as it does. There are three GAs and usually two work per day. Their tasks are processing collections, tracking down answers for reference requests, creating web copy, and in general, doing all sorts of needed archival work. Of course, they also have duties otherwise not specified.

I also usually have some type of donor work during a usual day. Donors are the good folks who give the WLA records that make up our collections. What I call donor work includes: talking with a donor; picking up records; deciding what to keep; and doing the legal paperwork to transfer the records to the WLA. There are all sorts of follow-ups, by phone or e-mail, with donors as they progress through the donation process. Donations have increased over the last year so it is becoming a regular part of almost every day.

Lastly, I can’t forget answering e-mails, some of which contain the aforementioned reference requests and/or administrative tasks. On average I spend a good hour or two daily reading and responding to e-mails.

I have a varied work day which is what I like. I’m afraid I’d be bored if I my job entailed just several archival tasks. Instead, I never quite know what will happen in a day at the WLA!


 

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.


Decades of Travel: A Personal Look at the Mollie West Collection

The Polish born immigrant, Mollie Lieber West, came to the United States in 1929 at the age of 13. After graduating from high school, Mollie went on to work for the Farm Equipment Workers of American, an early CIO union. She was a member of the Communist Party from 1935 to 1962. Mollie initially joined the Young Communist League working as a labor organizer. After several years of being forced into underground hiding in the 1950s, she broke ties with the Communist Party in 1962.

Mollie surpassed gender barriers as a member of the Typographical Union. She was the first woman elected to a union office in the Chicago typographical Union, Local 16. In her sixties, Mollie earned a Bachelor’s degree in labor education from Mundelein’s Weekend College. After her retirement from the printing trade in 1987, Mollie worked at the Illinois Labor History Society as the administrative secretary and volunteer. Her time there allowed her to continue to promote education and recognition for labor leaders.

Most of what I knew about Mollie West related to her work for the union. I had read through her biographical information on her finding aid and had also been told a little bit about her. Mollie’s life was rather fascinating but what truly caught my attention were all of the items in her collection at the Women and Leadership Archives that pertained more to her personal life. I came across some of Mollie’s personal items when I was looking for photos to scan for her memorial. What a delightful feeling it was to discover that her collection contains a plethora of information unrelated to the union. Pictures, letters, school papers, and greeting cards are just a few of the materials highlighting Mollie’s personal life. In particular, I relished my time spent sifting through her travel photos. Mollie spent most of her life in Chicago but her photos indicate that she traveled far beyond the borders of the windy city.

As someone who has been fortunate enough to travel abroad, I was instantly interested in Mollie’s travels. She traveled to places decades before I ever set foot on a plane and I only wish I could swap stories with her. I am sure there would have been many things to compare and contrast about our trips. Her photos gave me a glimpse into travel in the Soviet Union in 1940s, Israel in the 1950s, Mexico in the 1960s, England 1970s, China in the 1980s, and Switzerland in the 1990s. From the hairstyles to the clothes to the breathtaking scenery, Mollie’s photos are a visual treat to look through.

Mollie West on the Great Wall of China

Mollie West on the Great Wall of China

Her photo collection raises some broader questions about the history of travel. How easy or difficult was it to travel abroad in the latter half of the twentieth century? How is travel similar and how has it changed over the years? How has tourism changed over the years? These are all questions that at first glance at Mollie’s collection may not seem as though they could be answered. In fact, a researcher may not even look at Mollie’s collection if the researcher is not focused on labor unions. Archives are full of hidden gems of information and resources. Researchers may study the same collection but may use their research in very different ways. Mollie’s collection is full of material relating to her work with the labor movement, however she was a very active individual and her collection reflects that. Pictures, letters, papers, and cards show just how many people Mollie knew and all the activities she was involved with.

Me in Egypt in 2011.

Me in Egypt in 2011

 

 

 

Mollie West in Egypt in 1983

Mollie West in Egypt in 1983

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking through Mollie’s collection, I thought about how I had tried to capture my time traveling abroad. Mollie’s photos seem to indicate that she often traveled with friends and family. There are numerous pictures of her by herself as well as her with the people she presumably traveled with. I on the other hand, took several solo trips so a majority of those photos consist of the landscape, buildings, and other people. I am envious of the plethora of candid photos of Mollie and her traveling companions. These photos are very natural and they give me a better look at how Mollie interacted with the environment and other people when she was not posing for a planned picture.

When Mollie traveled, film was still used, as the numerous negatives in her collection prove. In this day and age there are digital cameras and cameras on phones. Any archival collection of my life in the future would consist of CDs, memory cards, and external hard drives because I rarely print out my photos. I have well intentioned plans to print them out and put them in scrapbooks or albums but the need to do that is not there because I can easily view my photos on my computer. There is something very exciting about holding the actual photograph rather than viewing a scanned image. These were photos Mollie or those she traveled with printed off, looked through, put in albums, or hung up. While the photos I took while traveling are reminiscent of those by Mollie, how we displayed and used them afterwards does differ. Mollie’s collection is the inspiration I need to dedicate some time to printing out physical copies of my travel photographs.

Mollie West handling coins during the Monte Carlo leg of her European trip in 1970.

Mollie West handling coins during the Monte Carlo leg of her European trip in 1970

I admire Mollie’s work in the labor movement but what I find most interesting are the parts of her collection that are strongly connected to her personal life. Mollie was such an influential public figure for the labor movement, that it is nice to see what she was involved in outside of that work. Her pictures show time spent with family and friends and traveling. One of the most fascinating things about Mollie is that she traveled the world well into her older age. I only hope that I have the great fortune to travel far and wide, just like Mollie.

 

Mollie West in Israel in 1959.

Mollie West in Israel in 1959

 


 

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.


Archival Practice: An Intro to Textiles

Last spring, the WLA Director informed the Graduate Assistants that we would be receiving a lesson in folding textiles. Great, I thought, someone will finally give me the secret to folding a fitted sheet! Unfortunately, a neat linen closet still eludes me. However, I did gain an important skill for archivists and public historians working with collections. While archives are mainly thought of as repositories for historic papers, several of our collections include various fabric objects. It is important to know how to care for these textiles so that they can be preserved for researchers for as long as possible.

So, I would like to pass on to you the basics of caring for textiles in the archives.

A Peace ribbon embroidered by Rose Bagley

A Peace ribbon embroidered by Rose Bagley

The textiles we were working with were donations from Rose Bagley, whose collection has not yet been processed. Rose participated in organizing for the Peace Ribbon event on August 4, 1985. On that day, an estimated 15,000 people carried a 15 mile long ribbon that wrapped around the Pentagon, the Washington Monument, and Capitol Hill to protest nuclear weapons. The ribbon was made up of 36×18 inch segments decorated with paint, embroidery, and sewing and sent to Washington from all over the country. Our collection includes just some of the over 1,300 segments that were sent from Illinois.

Garments and other textiles with more complex construction would require more careful consideration. While I will be focusing on flat storage of textiles, some items may require a different form of storage. However, these simple, rectangular banners can help us get a feel for the techniques of textile conservation.

Wait, why do I even care?

Imagine it’s laundry day and you’re folding up your t-shirts and putting them into a drawer. When you pull a t-shirt out a week or two later to wear it, there are creases where the folds were that you try to shake out or iron away. Now imagine if that t-shirt sat in the drawer for 25 years, 50 years, a hundred years. The fabric at those folds has been stretched and pressed for that length of time, causing damage and breakage to the fibers.

Because of the perils of sharp folds, the method of storing historic textiles revolves around creating as few folds as possible. Where folds must be made, we try to reduce the strain that creases put on the fibers.

Supplies needed:

  • Acid free, lignin-free archival boxes
  • Acid-free, lignin-free, unbuffered tissue paper (lots of it)
  • Cotton gloves
  • A large work space

Step One: Every box has a tissue lining.

Prepare the box in which your textiles will live by lining it with tissue paper. The goal is to have the artifacts only touching tissue paper, not any part of the box or other objects.

Step Two: Best laid plans

Wearing your gloves, lay the first textile flat on a clean surface. When moving textiles, be sure to lift carefully from both ends in a way that does not put strain on any part of the fabric. Use a cloth underneath as support or get help from a colleague for large, heavy objects. Your textiles may not be delicate now, but we still want to treat them carefully.

With your object flat and your box nearby, plan out the best way to fold the textile. Remember, you want the item to fit into the box with as few folds as possible.

Step Three: Time to make sausage

Once you know how you will fold your textile, you must pad these folds in order to reduce strain on the fibers. The formal archival term for this padding is a sausage.

To begin making your sausage, take two or three rectangular pieces of tissue paper and crinkle them up like a kid opening a birthday present. Well, maybe not that violently. Next, pull the now messy paper back out into rectangles. Here, you may choose between two methods. You can roughly pleat your paper like an accordion, or you can loosely roll the paper. Either way, you should end up with a sausage-shaped roll of tissue paper. You may want to slightly twist the ends to keep your sausage from coming apart. Delicious.

The goal in sausage making is to make the tissue paper full and crush-resistant.

The goal in sausage-making is to make the tissue paper full and crush-resistant.

Step Four: Know when to fold ‘em

An accordion sausage in place

An accordion-style  sausage in place

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A rolled sausage

Place your sausage where it is needed on the textile and fold the fabric over. Gently push the sausage into the fold so that there are no sharp creases. Depending on the width of your textile, you may need to add another sausage or two to insure that the fold is padded all the way to the edges. Maybe you’ll need some mini sausages.

 

For garments, you will also need to use tissue paper to puff out bodices, sleeves and ruffles. Some sources also suggest that you use cardboard tubes, covered in tissue paper, to support folds in heavier fabrics.

 

 

 

Step Five: Think inside the box

Carefully move your textile into the box and readjust your sausages as needed. Cover the textile with a layer of tissue paper.

Surrounded by tissue paper, the final peace ribbon banner goes into the box.

Surrounded by tissue paper, the final peace ribbon banner goes into the box.

For the sake of space, it is likely that you will need to put multiple items in a box. Avoid stacking heavy fabrics that will crush the folds of items underneath. Never crush your sausages. Because our peace ribbons were fairly light and only had one fold, we found that we could put five in each box without putting too much weight on the folded banners.

Be sure to put tissue paper in between each item in the box.

When you have placed the last textile in the box, cover it with, you guessed it, more tissue paper, and fold any overhanging paper over the textiles. Be sure that you have not overfilled the box and that your carefully puffed textiles will not be crushed as you put the top on the box.

It is recommended that textiles be repacked and refolded regularly, perhaps annually. This gives you an opportunity to put new fluffy sausages and change where the folds are located so that no area of the textile is under perpetual stress.

Committing to Textiles

Recently, another donor asked the WLA if it would like to take a donation of over 100 more peace ribbon segments. When packed as described above, with five to a box, this donation would take up a considerable amount of shelf space (as well as a parade float’s worth of tissue paper). Archives often face the decision of whether they can take donations like this and properly care for them. Will these objects be more valuable to researchers than potential future donations that could fill this space? Archivist job requirement: predicting the future.

This basic lesson on caring for textiles does not cover all of the procedures that may be needed with different types of textiles. However, my practice with the peace ribbons gave me an understanding of the problems that must be considered for this type of artifact.

For more information on textile conservation, see this in-depth guide from the National Park Service.

For guides on caring for textiles at home, take a look at the links below.

Guide to storing antique textiles from the Smithsonian Encyclopedia
Textile Care guide from the International Quilt Study Center and Museum
Caring for Your Heirloom Textiles is a thorough article from Marjorie M. Baker at the University of Kentucky

 


 

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. When not scrapbooking, 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.


Collections Highlight: Mary Therese Langerbeck, BVM., Ph.D.

I took physics my junior year of high school. For me, physics was torture. Before taking the class, I thought that physics was mostly common sense, what goes up must come down and all of those old adages. Gravity was my seventeen year old nemesis; I stumbled around the hallways of my high school sometimes tripping over thin air. The only thing I can actually remember from that class is the fact that we made catapults and trebuchets and launched random objects out of them. We tried to hit unsuspecting victims in the head with ping pong balls and tangerines.  It was a swirl of equations and variables that I could never keep straight. When I wonder what on earth possessed me to take that class, the only thing I remember with clarity are the words my mother told me when I asked her which of the sciences I should take to fulfill my last science credit, “Take physics,” she said, “not enough women take physics.”

What I did not know at the time was how right my mother was. The American Physics Society reports on their website that less that 20 percent of women earn bachelor’s degrees in physics. Furthermore, the amount of women who go on to do post doctorate work in the field, completing scholarly training or mentored research so that they can pursue a career path, is closer to 15 percent. The absence of women in physics, and the STEM disciplines in general, is a problem that the Obama administration has made a point to address; however, there is still a long way to go before there are an equal number of women and men earning higher education degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The WLA is lucky to have a solid representation of women who have made contributions to the fields of science and mathematics, but there is one in my opinion that particularly stands out.

Born July 20th 1902, Sister Mary Therese Langerbeck spent her long life teaching and working in various disciplines within the sciences. Sister Langerbeck began her academic career at Northwestern, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in botany. She received her Master’s in 1945 in astronomy from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and would later go on to receive her Ph. D. in astronomy from Georgetown in 1948. It is mentioned by her colleagues that Sister Langerbeck was the first woman to receive a doctorate from Georgetown University. It is also noted that when she graduated she was the only sister in the entire world to hold a Ph.D. in astrophysics.

Sister Mary Therese Langerbeck teaching Physics to two Mundelein students

Sister Mary Therese Langerbeck teaching Physics to two Mundelein students

Sister Langerbeck spent much of her academic career as the chair of the Physics Department of Mundelein College. She orchestrated the building and implementation of two major scientific instruments on Mundelein’s campus. The first was a Foucault pendulum, a device used to measure the earth’s rotation, built in one of the Mundelein’s elevator shafts in 1938. The Foucault pendulum is a clear visual representation of the Earth moving beneath the pendulum, rather than the pendulum moving on its own. According to a Loyola World article published in 1993, the Mundelein pendulum was the longest of its kind in existence when it was built. The Mundelein pendulum’s accuracy was well known–scientists from all over the city of Chicago and the country used it’s readings for their research. Eventually, the Mundelein pendulum was retired in 1958 when a longer and more modern one was installed at the Chicago Museum of Science and Technology. Sister was also instrumental in building an observatory and telescope for the use of Mundelein’s students.

A student takes notes from the Mundelein pendulum that hung in an empty elevator shaft Mundelein College. 1938.

A student takes notes from the Mundelein pendulum that hung in an empty elevator shaft Mundelein College. 1938.

In the later years of her career, from 1971 until her retirement in 1977, Sister taught as a visiting professor of physics and mathematics at Livingstone College in North Carolina. She died at the age of ninety-one in 1993 of a heart problem, and was buried in the BVM Cemetery in Dubuque, Iowa. Sister Langerbeck is memorable not only for her own scientific accomplishments, but because she fought for the place of women in the sciences. In 1945, she published an article entitled, Some Reasons why Physics is Elected by So Few Freshman Students; Suggested Remedial Measures., one of Sister Langerbeck’s findings concluded that 52 percent of the women she questioned felt they would not be welcome in those fields if they expressed an interest in pursuing a career. Unfortunately, 70 years after her article was published, the same feelings of exclusion for women in the sciences persist. However, rather than feeling depressed by this statistic, I choose to feel hopeful that there are more teachers and mentors out there like Sister Langerbeck to inspire young girls to pursue their talents and skills in male-dominated fields, and kick butt doing it.

Feature on Sister Langerbeck, published in BVM Vista December 1959. The picture used for the article shows Sister in the physics laboratory on Mundelein’s campus.

Feature on Sister Langerbeck, published in BVM Vista December 1959. The picture used for the article shows Sister in the physics laboratory on Mundelein’s campus.


 

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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.


Summer Researchers at the WLA or How To Spend Summer Vacation

Every summer is a busy time at the Women and Leadership Archives (WLA) and this past one did not disappoint. Of the various folks who came to research, three spent a significant amount of time over multiple visits.

Researcher Jill Plummer

Researcher Jill Plummer

Jill Plummer, a Ph.D. student at the University of Notre Dame, is a 2015 WLA Summer Research grant recipient. In July and the first full week in August, Plummer immersed herself in the archives. She used the following question to guide her research: how did Catholic nuns turn out to be one of the few visibly active legacies of the 1960s New Left today? Plummer’s future dissertation project aims to answer this question by tracing the growth of American sisters’ religiously-inspired peace and justice activism against U.S. foreign policy in Central America and for anti-nuclear and disarmament campaigns.

 

. Dr. Suzanne Bost is a Professor in the Department of English and the Graduate Program Director for Women’s Studies and Gender Studies at Loyola.

. Dr. Suzanne Bost is a Professor in the Department of English and the Graduate Program Director for Women’s Studies and Gender Studies at Loyola.

The other WLA Summer Research Grant recipient visited the archives many times throughout the summer. Dr. Suzanne Bost is a Professor in the Department of English and the Graduate Program Director for Women’s Studies and Gender Studies at Loyola. WLA collections aided her analysis of the ways women religious write about their social justice work with Latina/o communities. Dr. Bost focused on exploring the reciprocity, identification, and affection established between the primarily white social justice workers and the Latinas they worked to serve.

Documentary Filmmaker Marleen McCurtis doing research.

Documentary Filmmaker Marleen McCurtis doing research.

 

Documentary filmmaker Marleen McCurtis came to the WLA this summer to delve into the collection of Margaret (Peggy) Roach. McCurtis is working on a film that details Wednesdays in Mississippi (WIMS), the only civil rights project organized by women for women. WIMS brought interracial, interfaith teams of northern, middle aged, and middle and upper class women to Jackson, MS, to meet with their Southern counterparts. Peggy Roach participated in WIMS and her collection is rich with details of the program.

 

 


 

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Nancy 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.


Scrapbooking: My Personal Archives

Graduate assistant Caroline Giannakopoulos archives the events of her life in scrapbooks.

Graduate assistant Caroline Giannakopoulos archives the events of her life in scrapbooks.

The job of an archives is to collect and protect materials of value that others might throw out. However, every document and object that an archivist comes across cannot be kept. Archivists must constantly make difficult decisions about what is most important and what is permanently valuable in a process called appraisal. Some things must be discarded in order to leave room in the archive for the future. At the WLA, we focus on the lives and contributions of women.
Though it seems an impossible task to decide what from our present will be viewed as important in the future, we have all asked ourselves similar questions on a more personal level. Will this be useful to be later? What can I keep to remember this great experience? What do I do with all of these mementos?
Many of us make these decisions and create our own personal archives. For me, my personal archives takes the form of a scrapbook.

Scrapbooking has in recent years become a popular hobby enjoyed by many who turn photos and bits of paper into incredible art that preserves significant life moments on a page. Many forms of social media can even be seen as a digital form of scrapbooking.

Though it has become more elaborate through time, scrapbooking has been a common practice since the 19th century. In those days, large cities had dozens of daily newspapers filled with the new technology of photography, and leaving people both captivated and overwhelmed by the information that they encountered on a daily basis. To deal with the piles of newspaper that began to fill their homes, people began cutting out the stories and photos that most interested them and pasting them into books. These individuals preserved the evidence of events that shaped their lives and the information that they found useful.

Patricia Caron Crowley's collection includes over 100 scrapbooks which document her life from childhood and her professional activities.

Patricia Caron Crowley’s collection includes over 100 scrapbooks which document her life from childhood and her professional activities.

The Visiting Nurse Association of Evanston kept this scrapbook from 1941-1973 to document local health news and the organization's activities.

The Visiting Nurse Association of Evanston kept this scrapbook from 1941-1973 to document local health news and the organization’s activities.

Several collections at the WLA include scrapbooks. Examples are the Mundelein College collection, the Visiting Nurses Association collection, and the collection of Patricia Caron Crowley. These not only inform us about how individuals made and used scrapbooks at the time, but they also tell us what the person saw as significant in their own life.

Because I lack the patience and artistic talent to create the beautiful, elaborate scrapbooks that are currently popular with hobbyists, my books more resemble the “cut it out and slap it in a book” method of 19th century scrapbooks. I love to collect little things that seem useless or were meant to only serve a temporary purpose and then be discarded, and save them as a snapshot of that fleeting moment. In fact, I tend to save too many things that get thrown into a bag until they are “processed,” to use the archival term, and put into a scrapbook. Scrapbooking helps me to organize my memories and limit the souvenirs I keep to what I can fit in the book. Going through the process of discarding the souvenirs of my happiest days, I can better understand the appraisal process of archivists. We keep what tells the story. We keep what will help us remember and help future generations understand.

A page from my scrapbook created on my 2012 trip to Greece.

A page from my scrapbook created on my 2012 trip to Greece.

In thinking about this topic, I realized one way my scrapbook is different from an archives. When I make my appraisal decisions and create my book of personal memories, I very often stick to preserving the pleasant memories and discarding the bad. Do I need to make a note of the family arguments on Christmas morning or will the cute Santa gift tag tell a better story? Do I preserve the Starbucks receipt to commemorate that terrible fight with my best friend? Who wants those memories? An archivist, however, must always take the good with the bad. The historical record is not complete and truthful if it does not include successes and failures. The stories in our archives of discrimination and conflict and the ways that women struggled against it can help future generations better understand how their communities and country were shaped. The creativity of these educators, activists, artists, and politicians could spark new ideas for how to handle future conflicts.

When I create a new page in my scrapbook and imagine sharing it with my future children and loved ones, maybe I should consider this important role an archives plays. Events that may be embarrassing or painful now could be the memories that best tell the story of my life in my personal archives.

Caroline blog photoCaroline Lynd Giannakopoulos is a Graduate Assistant at the WLA and is working on her Master’s in Public History at Loyola University Chicago. When not scrapbooking, 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.