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.


Collections Highlight: Joan Heath Fortner

Born in 1932 to Mr. and Mrs. Norbert A Heath, Joan Heath Fortner was active for years in Chicagoland art organizations. An alumna of The Immaculata High School (1950), Mundelein College (1954, BFA), the New York Fashion Academy (1955), and Loyola University (1979, M.A. in Education) Fortner always enjoyed art and sought to pursue it as a career.

An outfit designed by Joan Heath Fortner at age 16, 1948

An outfit designed by Joan Heath Fortner at age 16, 1948

From a young age, Fortner was extremely passionate about art and fashion. She became the youngest person to win the Chicago Tribune American Fashions Competition and would go on to win the competition for five consecutive years.

Tribune Style Show Finalists Article, 1950

American Fashions Competition Article from the Chicago Tribune, 1950

In addition to this award, she was the 1950 recipient of the Bishop O’Brien scholarship to the Art Institute in Chicago. In 1953 she won a second scholarship to the New York Fashion Academy for a design she submitted to a contest by the Evans Fur Company.

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Design sketch by Joan Heath Fortner showing fine attention to detail.

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Design sketch by Joan Heath Fortner. The contrasting use of light and dark colors displays the distinct characteristics of her work.

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Design sketch by Joan Heath Fortner.

While living in New York, Joan Heath met her husband, Gene Fortner. Following their marriage, the couple lived in New York for four years where she worked as a dress designer before returning to Chicago. While raising three kids, Fortner obtained a Masters in Education from Loyola University Chicago in 1979. Upon receiving her M.A., Fortner became an Art Education Teacher at Mather High School and also worked with District 63 in Niles, Glenview, and Des Plaines.

Article highlighting Fortner's achievements, 1981.

Article highlighting Fortner’s achievements, 1981.

During her lifetime, Fortner has been involved in many art organizations in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Most recently, she served as the Vice President of the Des Plaines Art Guild and the executive director of Art Cubes, a nonprofit art service organization funded by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Illinois Arts Council that brings the arts to older adults.

Due to her dedication to her work, Fortner has won many awards and today she is still extremely active in her community. Along with teaching art classes, she is currently working on watercolor and acrylic paintings.

An article highlighting an exhibit of Fortner's work, n.d.

An article highlighting an exhibit of Fortner’s work, n.d.

The Joan Heath Fortner Papers at the Women and Leadership Archives consist of 1.5 linear feet of material spanning the years 1948-1981. The Women and Leadership Archives has a substantial number of other collections that focus on women artists, for a complete list see our website.

Original research for this post was done by WLA intern Sebastian Villa during the Fall of 2012.


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.


Graduation Time at Loyola and the WLA

Graduations have been in high swing here at Loyola University Chicago this past week. There are still a few more to come before the ceremonies wrap up. This is my third May at Loyola and I’ve decided graduation time is one of my favorite things. The campus is full of happy people who appear in waves during times of the morning and afternoon graduations. All over campus there are the graduates in caps and gowns, some carrying flowers. Family members and friends take pictures of the grad by the lake or other iconic locations around campus, by Piper Hall, where the WLA is located. The aura is one of happiness, excitement, and just plain fun. Even during light rain and gray skies that inevitably appears one or two of the days, the mood still feels jubilant, albeit a bit soggy.

What do my warm fuzzy graduation feelings have to do with an archives blog? Good question. First, the WLA holds the records of Mundelein College and, as you might imagine, the collection has many graduation pictures. Some of which are available here: http://content.library.luc.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/coll14 I imagine graduations at Mundelein also had the same sense of accomplishment and happiness. Closing my eyes, I see happy groups of graduates and family members, caps and gowns, and flowers everywhere.

Second, the WLA is staffed by Graduate Assistants (GAs) from Loyola’s Public History Program. The program is two years long and they end up with, hopefully, jobs in the public history field. It’s a lovely time for the graduating GA, although it can be stressful, depending on if there is a job to go to. I’m always happy to see a student succeed, graduate, and move on in a positive way

The flip side is that it is a mixed bag for the WLA and me. The WLA experiences turn-over every year as one or two GAs graduate. I’ve come to know, depend on, and honestly, become quite fond of the graduating GA. In a former position, I also had student staff and am very familiar with the cycle of student workers. They come, they work hard, they graduate, and they leave.

I confess, though, the cycle hasn’t become easier as the years roll on. I’m beginning to think just the opposite. The older I get, the more sentimental I become. Perhaps it’s because I have a child and the years fly by, giving me a heightened sense of time passing. I don’t know, really. All I know is I miss each one who leaves and feel a sense of sadness when I come to work and they are not there.

A friend of mine jokes that this is one of the times the chorus from the song “Sunrise, Sunset” from the musical Fiddler on the Roof comes into the brain! She’s right. While I don’t know the students as children, I get to know them for one or two very formative years. I end up becoming close to each one, hearing about their lives and sometimes their struggles. In addition, I see them succeed, grow, and move on in a positive way.

This year, two WLA GAs graduated on May 5th: Mollie Fullerton and Jenny Pederson. Mollie began as a volunteer and then worked as a GA this last academic year. Jenny’s been with the WLA two years as a GA. Both will be sorely missed: Jenny for her great good humor and kindness; and Mollie for her sensitive ability to see truth in situations. Both are creative and intelligent with wonderful senses of humor. I wish them both all the luck and good fortune in the future.

WLA graduate students Jenny Pederson and Mollie Fullerton photographed in Piper Hall, 1st. Floor.  Photo taken by GA Caroline Lynd, who graduates in May 2016.

Jenny and MollieR

 

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.

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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: Carol Ronen

Born in Chicago on March 28, 1945, Carol Ronen has devoted much of her life to public service in Illinois. In 1967 Ronen graduated from Bradley University in Peoria, IL with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and went on to earn her Master’s in Public Administration at Roosevelt University in 1979.

Carol Ronen's Masters in Public Administration Diploma, 1979.

Carol Ronen’s Masters in Public Administration Diploma, 1979.

Throughout her career, Ronen was highly recognized as a progressive public servant who advocated the causes of women, early childhood education, health care, violence prevention, and human rights.

In Chicago, Ronen served as the Director of Research and Evaluation for the Chicago-Cook County Criminal Justice Commission as well as Director of Legislative and Community Affairs for the Chicago Department of Human Services. In 1989, she became the Executive Director of the Chicago Commission on Women where she created and facilitated programs that advocated for issues such as domestic abuse and welfare reform.

An article outlining Ronen's goals for the Chicago Commission on Women, 1989.

An article outlining Ronen’s goals for the Chicago Commission on Women, 1989.

Carol Ronen served seven years in the Illinois State House of Representatives for the 17th District from 1993-2000. In 2000 she was appointed to the Illinois State Senate for District 7 after the resignation of her predecessor, Arthur Berman.

Carol Ronen for State Representative Rally, n.d.

Carol Ronen for State Representative Rally, n.d.

Elections Certificate, 2000.

State Senate Elections Certificate, 2000.

In the Illinois legislature, Ronen was a major advocate for LGBTQ rights. Ronen was a strong opponent of S.B. 1773, which sought to only recognize heterosexual marriage in the state, when it was proposed in 1996. Additionally, she was the lead sponsor of the Illinois Human Rights Act (2005), which protects Illinois residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Passing this bill took over a decade of work and, according to Ronen herself, “fulfills a personal commitment I made when I first ran for office – to extend equal protection to Illinois gay, lesbian and trans-gendered citizens.” At the time this Act was passed, there were only four other states that had adopted such sweeping protections.

Part of a speech given by Carol Ronen in opposition to S.B. 1773, which would have allowed only heterosexual marriage to be recognized in IL.

Part of a speech given by Carol Ronen in opposition to S.B. 1773, which would have allowed only heterosexual marriage to be recognized in IL.

Ronen was also a strong supporter of the Equal Pay Act, which increased the number of women covered by equal pay protections, and was a driving force behind increasing the Illinois minimum wage.

In October 2007, she announced that she would be resigning as District 7 State Senator and would not complete her term. She officially stepped down on February 10, 2008, and was succeeded in office by Heather Stearns.

Carol Ronen in the State Senate, n.d.

Carol Ronen in the State Senate, n.d.

The Carol Ronen Papers at the Women and Leadership Archives consist of 2 linear feet of materials and document the years 1952-2009. Additional papers at the WLA of women involved in politics include the Carolyn Farrell Papers, the Sheli Lulkin Papers, the Mary Ann Smith Papers, the Marion Volini Papers, and the Carol Mosley Braun Papers (currently unavailable for research).

Original research for this post was done by WLA intern Sebastian Villa during the Fall of 2012.


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.


#SaveSweetBriarsHistories

Mundelein College Classics students, n.d. from the Mundelein College Collection at the WLA.

Mundelein College Classics students, n.d. from the Mundelein College Collection at the WLA.

When I first heard that the Board of of Directors of Sweet Briar College (SBC) in Virginia voted to close the women’s college due to “insurmountable financial challenges,” all I could think about were the similarities of the situation to Mundelein College. As a Graduate Assistant at the Women and Leadership Archives, which holds the Mundelein College Collection, I am incredibly familiar with the plight of women’s’ colleges.

Mundelein was a Catholic women’s college founded and operated by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVMs). The college opened its doors in 1930 and offered students a liberal arts education for over 60 years. In 1991, Mundelein “affiliated” with Loyola University Chicago. Like many women’s and small colleges, Mundelein ran into financial troubles in the 1980s. Enrollment was steady, but not growing. The college had over $4 million in debts and needed to upgrade buildings and equipment. Salaries were low and had been that way for a while. The college either had to make major staff cuts in an effort to reorganize a more fiscally sound school or consider a merger with a university willing to take on Mundelein’s debt

Mundelein College students protest the affiliation.

Mundelein College students protest the affiliation.

On March 19, 1991, Mundelein announced that it was in negotiations with its next-door neighbor Loyola University Chicago about a merger or affiliation. While the administrators of both schools emphasized the commonalities of the Catholic institutions and benefits of affiliation, students saw it differently. They marched with banners and signs in front of the Skyscraper chanting “Save our college!” and “60 more years!” A group called Concerned Students for Mundelein initiated a letter-writing campaign to tell alumnae what was going on and ask for their help in preventing a Loyola takeover. At the Board of Trustees meeting to vote on the affiliation, students wearing black with red armbands staged a sit-in.

On April 15, 1991, Mundelein College and Loyola University Chicago administrators signed an agreement that created “Mundelein College of Loyola University.” It happened so quickly that many students and alumnae felt blindsided.

The Mundelein Student Government Statement of Position makes this clear; the students write that the trust between Mundelein students and the administrations and boards of both institutions must be established. Mundelein students had chosen to go to a small, women’s college and were being thrown into a university that resembled more of a state school. Also, as expressed in by Mundelein Student Government representatives in their Statement of Position, many Mundelein women did not feel welcome at Loyola, based on a history of the use of terms like “mundle bundle” and the “girls’ school next door” by Loyola students, creating the perception among Mundelein students that Loyola did not encourage women and minorities to take on leadership positions of power and authority.

Alumnae also felt angry and cheated by the college and its board. Alumna Jane Trahey knew that Mundelein was experiencing financial difficulties, but she didn’t know how bad it was: “I wanted to sue the Board because I think they were negligent. They didn’t pursue all possible avenues. I don’t understand how they could have looked at the financial situation and studied the balance sheets for the last five years and not said ‘Something is seriously wrong here and we have to act now.’ Mundelein graduates never had to opportunity to rally the cause, to raise the money, to keep the college alive. I think we could have done it.”

Protest at Sweet Briar.

Protest at Sweet Briar.

When the Sweet Briar College announced its decision to close to students, faculty, staff, and the world in early March, many of the reactions were similar to those at Mundelein. Students felt blindsided. Both students and faculty took action with a sit-in protest at the President’s house where they waved signs protesting the closing of Sweet Briar. Although many of the students present at the sit-in acknowledged their lack of control over the situation, they felt the need to voice their dissent.

Unlike at Mundelein, alumnae and faculty have taken their cause to the next level. Shortly after the closing was announced, alumnae formed Save Sweet Briar to stop the college from closing and “provide accurate information to students, faculty, and alumnae about the true financial condition of Sweet Briar College and the viable alternatives to closure.” Currently, their goal is to raise money to fight the closure. The fund has had $5.2 Million pledged, $10.2 Million pledged over 5 years, and $1 Million donated.

Also unlike Mundelein, the closing of Sweet Briar College has made it to the courts. The Commonwealth of Virginia filed suit to keep Sweet Briar open. Additionally, a group of faculty and staff filed a motion supporting the lawsuit.

Although Mundelein College no longer exists, its records still do. Established in 1994, the Women and Leadership Archives grew out of the need to preserve Mundelein’s records and expanded to collect the papers and records of individual women leaders as well as organizations. What will happen to Sweet Briar’s records once the college is gone? I emailed John Jaffe, the Director of Integrated Information Systems/CIO at Sweet Briar, and he said that if the college closes “there are plans in place to consolidate all records of the college into the existing archives. In addition, the entire archives will be moved to a senior research level institution in the Commonwealth where they will be preserved and made available to scholars.”

The Chung Mungs at Sweet Briar, 1965. Archival Photos from Mary Helen Cochran Library. CC BY-NC

The Chung Mungs at Sweet Briar, 1965. Archival Photos from Mary Helen Cochran Library. CC BY-NC

Unlike Mundelein College, Sweet Briar is closing in the digital age and the college’s history is documented online. It has two Tumblrs (one officially sponsored by the Tusculum Institute at SBC and one unofficial site run by an alumna). Papers about the history of the college written by SBC students in courses called “Doing Sweet Briar History,” “History of Sweet Briar,” and “Practicum in Sweet Briar History” are available on the SBC library website. An Omeka site with archival photos from the Mary Helen Cochran Library makes it its mission to provide widespread access to archival photos and similar photos are available on the library’s Flickr. Once Sweet Briar closes, what will happen to these digital resources? The unofficial Tumblr will continue as long as the alumna running it receives material to post, but who, if anyone, will manage the other sites? Will Sweet Briar’s website still exist once the college is gone or will it only live on through the Wayback Machine? If another archive takes SBC’s physical collections, will they also maintain the digital footprint of Sweet Briar?

In addition to its archives, Sweet Briar has a museum and the college itself makes up a district listed on the National Register of Historic Places with 22 contributing structures. The campus also contains a slave cabin that is open to the public and a slave cemetery with 60 graves. While it may not be possible to #SaveSweetBriar, I hope that we can #SaveSweetBriarsHistories.

0a621f2Mollie Fullerton is a Graduate Assistant at the WLA and is finishing her last semester of her MA in Public History at Loyola University Chicago. In addition to sharing authority, she enjoys biking, making/eating pie, and playing the musical saw.


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.


Sister Safety

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Exploring the files of Sister Mary Carmelyn McMahon

Exploring the files of Sister Mary Carmelyn McMahon

As part of our Women’s History Month activities, I worked on creating a display showcasing materials from the collection of Mundelein College, a Catholic women’s college that was once located next to Loyola. The exhibit focused on two of Mundelein’s art professors and two students who went on to have successful art careers. This was another great opportunity to find new things and learn more about life at this unique college for women.

As I researched the art professors of Mundelein, I found interesting details on the life of Sister Mary Carmelyn. Sister Mary Carmelyn McMahon was born in Missoula, Montana in 1905 and taught at Mundelein from 1934 to 1954. Sister Mary Carmelyn designed several of the college’s Christmas cards and even illustrated the Graduate Pledge, which was taken by seniors at every commencement ceremony.

Sister Mary Carmelyn working with the Safety Council

Sister Mary Carmelyn working with the Safety Council

The Mundelein College Graduate Pledge, created by Sister Mary Carmelyn

The Mundelein College Graduate Pledge, created by Sister Mary Carmelyn

While inspiring students in her role as a teacher, Sister Mary Carmelyn discovered something else about which she was passionate. She began the College Safety Council at Mundelein in 1943 and spent her time learning and sharing ways to prevent accidents on school campuses and beyond. In the 1940s, she dedicated much of her time to the Red Cross and was appointed to serve on many safety councils, including the Education Committee of President Truman’s Conference on Highway Safety. She even taught the other BVM’s to swim. I wish we had a photo of that to share!

A World War II poster warning about one of the many safety hazards of the workplace.

A World War II poster warning about one of the many safety hazards of the workplace.

This sudden concern for accident prevention seems out of the blue, but Sister Mary Carmelyn was actually just doing her patriotic duty. In the midst of World War II, factories increased production to provide supplies. Meanwhile, workplace accidents and injuries also increased. The National Safety Council, with the support of President Roosevelt, launched a national campaign in 1941 to teach ways to avoid accidents in industries, homes, schools, and on the road. Citizens could support the war effort by preventing carelessness that would waste resources or result in injury to much needed workers.

Sister Mary Carmelyn participated in the movement that spread these safety lessons to all areas of life. She promoted the 3 E’s of accident prevention: Education, Engineering, and Enforcement. She also wrote an article for Safety Education Magazine explaining the forgotten “R” in safety, religion. “Knowledge of skills,” Mary Carmelyn wrote, “plus the realization and acceptance of man’s relationship to his fellow men and his Creator, will…direct the knowledge toward…attitudes of safe living.”

Exploring Sister Mary Carmelyn’s records in the Mundelein College Collection provided the opportunity for me to learn more about national events during World War II. Through the archives, I was able to see one fascinating woman’s participation in broader patterns of history.

Caroline blog photoCaroline Lynd 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 caring for her pufferfish, interpreting dreams, and watching cheesy movies.

 

 


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.


It’s Equal Pay Day!

What is Equal Pay Day?

National Equal Pay Day, held on Tuesday April 14th, 2015, recognizes the wage gap that exists between men and women in American society. Organized by the National Committee on Equal Pay (NCEP), a coalition of organizations committed to pay equity, and annually held since 2005, this day is observed across the United States through public lectures, meetings, rallies, and protests. Generally falling on a Tuesday in early April, the timing references how far into the current year women must work to match what men earned in the previous year. Tuesday signifies how far into the week women work to earn what men made the previous week. NCEP advocates the wearing of red on Equal Pay Day to symbolize how far women and minorities are ‘in the red’ with their pay.”[1] This day is not solely an American endeavor – it is held internationally, in countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and the United Kingdom.

Why do we have Equal Pay Day?

Equal Pay proponents point to a long history of employment discrimination in the United States. According to the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2012, the median weekly earnings of women working full time were only 81% of men working full-time. Up from 64.2% in 1980, there is improvement but still much to be gained. Minority women are at an even greater disadvantage for full-time wage and salary work. As of 2012, African American women earn 68% of what White men earn while Hispanic women receive on average 59%.

This  ad created by Jane Trahey for a Mundelein College Event illustrates the income inequality in 1979.

This ad created by Jane Trahey for a Mundelein College Event illustrates the income inequality in 1979.

What is the History behind Equal Pay?

The issue of equal pay for women has a long and complex history. Fought on many fronts, the quest for equal pay in America picked up steam following World War II and is punctuated by passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (specifically Title VII) and 2009’s Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Other legislation has been introduced over the years to provide additional safeguards. The latest such effort, the Paycheck Fairness Act, introduced by former senator Hilary Clinton and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, was ultimately rejected in 2012.

What Collections at the Women and Leadership Archives relate to Equal Pay Day?

At the Women and Leadership Archives, collections of organizations that relate to equal pay rights for women include 8th Day Center for Justice; United Nations Development Fund for Women; Chicago Catholic Women; and the Homemakers Equal Rights Association. We also have many collections that document individual’s efforts for pay equality. These include women such as Mollie Leiber West, Helen Sauer Brown, Peggy Roach, Carol Ronen, and Bari-Ellen Roberts. This is just a selection of the collections held in the Women and Leadership Archives that concentrate on peace and social justice activism, of which equal pay is a part.

[1] “Equal Pay Day,” Accessed March 3, 2014. http://www.pay-equity.org/day.html.


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: 8th Day Center for Social Justice

Founded in 1974 by six Catholic organizations located in Chicago Illinois, the organization the 8th Day Center for Justice is an inter-faith coalition that strives to do social justice work that impacts Chicago and the surrounding communities.

Founding Members of 8th Day holding a staff meeting, 1975

Founding Members of 8th Day holding a staff meeting, 1975

For nearly 40 years the organization has made a difference in the lives of hundreds of Chicagoans, many of them women. In their efforts to help women, they have broadly invested in issues such as education, war, universal human rights, poverty, and homelessness. Drawing from firm and long-held religious beliefs, the organization’s activism is peaceful and concentrates on consciousness raising, community organizing, workshops, and lobbying.

Urban Plunge Participants, 1983

Urban Plunge Participants, 1983

The Urban Plunge, one of the organizations longest running programs has occurred annually since 1977. This Easter Week event is a weeklong faith-based immersion program in which participants engage with the city of Chicago through exploring its spaces and meeting local community and religious leaders and organizations actively making an impact. Formulated to encourage participants to analyze their surroundings and utilize their talents, the tour creates a space for participants to brainstorm solutions for the problems and challenges facing contemporary society.

Good Friday Walk for Justice, 1982

Good Friday Walk for Justice, 1982

In 1981, 8th Day Center began an annual event called the Good Friday Walk for Justice, to draw attention to contemporary social justice issues concerning racial, economic, and legal inequalities. Themes of the walk are different every year and generally have a historic or religious significance. The event leads participants to five different locations positioned to create a cross in downtown Chicago. Led by a coalition of social justice and faith organizations with prayer and reflection built into the script, the event encourages individuals to act and provide voice for those who are unable to speak.

From their general events such as the Urban Plunge and Good Friday Walk for Justice to participation in national movements such as the Sanctuary Movement and advocating for the Equal Rights Amendment, 8th Day contributed to debates not just on local issues and topic, but national and international ones as well. The organization has specifically explored the conditions of women in Asia. Within the United States, they have commented on issues of discrimination, employment, violence, and women’s ordination.

LauraLaura Peace is a 2014 graduate of the MA in Public History Program at Loyola University Chicago and a former WLA Graduate Assistant.

 

 


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.