Women and Leadership Archives Summer Reading List

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A Mundelein College student picking out books from the library in Piper Hall.

We at the Women and Leadership Archives love summer reading.  If you’re like us, see below for a summer reading list inspired by the WLA’s collections!

For the movie-goersAll the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren. This Pulitzer Prize winning novel tells the story of southern lawyer Willie Stark and his transformation from an idealistic man of the people to a corrupt politician who pays a high price in his pursuit of power. This loosely fictionalized account of Governor Huey Long of Louisiana boasts two movie adaptations. The first, released in 1949, features actress Mercedes McCambridge—whose personal papers are held in the Women and Leadership Archives! In her collection there is an original script of the film, movie stills, and newspaper clippings describing her Oscar-award winning performance as Sadie Burke.

Collections: Mercedes McCambridge Papers

For the time-travelersMundelein Voices: The Women’s College Experience edited by Anne M. Harrington and Prudence Moylan.

Founded in 1929 by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mundelein College offered its all-female student body a comprehensive and rigorous Catholic liberal arts education. But Mundelein College, despite being run by nuns, had its share of hijinks! Readers can fully immerse themselves into the goings-on of the student body, and see what it was really like to be a Mundelein student, by reading this anthology of essays. I highly recommend the chapter by Joan Frances Crowley, B.V.M on her eight-year tenure as the director (then dean) of residence life. Anyone that has lived in a dorm will appreciate Crowley’s retelling of what it was like to live on-campus during the 1960s.

Collections: Mundelein College Collection

Joan Frances Crowley, B.V.M Papers

For the thrill-seekersRed Spy Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth Bentley by Kathryn S. Olmstead

Fans of John Le Carré (of Tinker Tailor Solder Spy fame) will love the fascinating life story of Communist Party and Soviet Union defector Elizabeth Bentley—called the “Red Spy Queen” by tabloids and newspapers in the late 1940s. Interestingly enough, Elizabeth Bentley actually worked as a professor of Political Science at Mundelin College from 1949-1950. Imagine having a spy for a teacher!

Collections: Mundelein College Collection

Marjorie Rowbottom Frisbee Papers

For my fellow feministsTidal Wave: How Women Changed America at Century’s End by Sara M. Evans

Historian Sara Evans is an authority on the subject of women’s history and their continued journey to equality. Her first book Born for Liberty (1989) is a comprehensive look at the history of women from the sixteenth century to modern times. In Tidal Wave, Evans establishes the essential foundation necessary to introduce readers to the histories of second and third wave feminism and their lasting importance to the present day. The Women and Leadership Archives holds numerous records of artists, academics, women’s groups, and writers that can add additional context to this groundbreaking time in women’s history.

Collections:  Feminism in Chicago: Connie Kiosse

Feminist Forum Records

SisterSerpents Records

For the scientistsHeadstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World by Rachel Swaby

This quick colorful book is for anyone who is curious about women’s contributions to the sciences. Divided into disciplines, this encyclopedic book provides brief entries about notable female doctors, biologists, environmentalists, mathematicians, astronomers, inventors; the list goes on and on! When you’re done, feel free to check out some of the WLA’s collections about women scientists

Collections: Mundelein College Collection—Sister Therese Langerbeck Files

Miram P Cooney, CSC., Papers

Alice Bourke Hayes, PhD., Papers

Katherine DeLage Taft

For the mischief-makersThe Trouble with Angels by Jane Trahey

Originally entitled Life with Mother Superior, this fictionalized memoir by Mundelein Alumnae Jane Trahey describes the shenanigans of two rebellious young women attending a Catholic all girls boarding school. The book was made into a feature film in 1966 starring Hayley Mills as the main troublemaker Mary Clancy and Rosalind Russell as the domineering Mother Superior. If you can get your hands on this book (it’s out of print), you’re in for a light-hearted, nostalgic comedy perfect for laying out pool-side.

Collections: Mundelein College Collection – Jane Trahey Files

For the hopeless romanticsLetters from Home – Kristina McMorris

Sometimes all you want from a good summer read is a juicy historical romance novel. Based in Chicago during World War II, this love story highlights a couple whose only way to communicate with one another is through letters. To add a Shakespearean twist, the main character, Liz Stephens, falls in love with her pen pal while pretending to be someone else! If love letters are your thing, come in and look at the Mollie Leiber West Collection. The WLA holds scores of letters from Mollie to her husband Carl Leiber when they were separated by WWII. Their own tragic love story is not unlike one you would read in an especially romantic novel!

Collections: Mollie Leiber West Papers

 


 

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

 


Loyola University Chicago’s Women and Leadership Archives Blog is designed to provide a positive environment for the Loyola community to discuss important issues and ideas. Differences of opinion are encouraged. We invite comments in response to posts and ask that you write in a civil and respectful manner. All comments will be screened for tone and content and must include the first and last name of the author and a valid email address. The appearance of comments on the blog does not imply the University’s endorsement or acceptance of views expressed.


Construction Paper

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Letters2

Very few letters were handwritten.

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

A few of the letters highlighting the construction of Mundelein College

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

 


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

 

 


Loyola University Chicago’s Women and Leadership Archives Blog is designed to provide a positive environment for the Loyola community to discuss important issues and ideas. Differences of opinion are encouraged. We invite comments in response to posts and ask that you write in a civil and respectful manner. All comments will be screened for tone and content and must include the first and last name of the author and a valid email address. The appearance of comments on the blog does not imply the University’s endorsement or acceptance of views expressed.


Collections Highlight: Carolyn Farrell

Carolyn Farrell after being elected to the Dubuque, Iowa City Council, 1977.

Carolyn Farrell after being elected to the Dubuque, Iowa City Council, 1977.

Carolyn Farrell, B.V.M., was born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1934.  In 1953 at the age of 18, Farrell joined the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM), taking her final vows in 1961.  She received her B.A. in History from Clarke College in 1966 and went on to attain a Master’s of Science in Education Administration from Western Illinois University.  Farrell also completed post-graduate work at the University of Iowa in Administration of Higher Education and at the Hubert Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

After holding positions as a teacher and administrator for a number of years, in 1974 Farrell began serving on several public committees in Dubuque, Iowa.  It was during this time that Farrell realized she wanted to become involved in politics.  She ran for Dubuque City Council in 1977 and became the first woman to be elected for a four year term.  In 1980, Farrell was elected for a one year term as the Mayor of Dubuque, becoming the first woman religious to serve as a mayor of a city in the United States.[1]

The following year Farrell returned to her former position as the Director of Continuing Education at Clarke College, a position which she held until 1988.  In 1991, Farrell accepted the Interim Presidency of Mundelein College in Chicago where she oversaw the College’s affiliation with Loyola University Chicago.  Farrell went on to serve as Associate Vice President of Loyola University for Mundelein College and Associate Vice President and Director of the Ann Ida Gannon, BVM, Center for Women and Leadership. Farrell retired from Loyola University Chicago in 2006 and continues her work as Director of the Roberta Kuhn Center at the BVM Motherhouse in Dubuque, Iowa.

Carolyn Farrell as Mayor of Dubuque, Iowa, 1980.

Carolyn Farrell as Mayor of Dubuque, Iowa, 1980.

Farrell’s election to office and her service to the field of higher education is a testament to the drive and influential capacities of both women and women religious. Her prominent place in Women’s History is reflected by her attendance at the United Nations 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995.

The Carolyn Farrell, BVM Papers at the WLA consists of 13 linear feet and document Farrell’s professional life with the majority of her papers spanning from 1977-1996. Additional papers at the WLA of women involved in politics include the Carol Ronen Papers, the Sheli Lulkin Papers, the Mary Ann Smith Papers, the Marion Volini Papers, and the Carol Mosley Braun Papers (currently unavailable for research).  The WLA also has the papers of over a dozen BVMs and 25 women religious or former women religious.  See our website for a full list of these collections.

 


[1] Dubuque, Iowa operates under a council-manager form of government, whereas the mayor is elected by the city council from among its members.

Laura Laura Peace is a 2014 graduate of the MA in Public History Program at Loyola University Chicago and a former WLA Graduate Assistant. Laura currently resides in Chicago and is employed at HistoryIT.

 

 


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.