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.


Musings on Mundelein College and the Selma March

Mundelein College students in Montgomery, Alabama.

Mundelein College students in Montgomery, Alabama.

For the past few months we have been researching Mundelein College’s role in the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama as well as the march itself in preparation for the anniversary and the accompanying events this March. After researching Selma, writing blog posts and web features, and attending related events at Loyola, we wanted to use Selma as a starting point to talk about broader issues of race, gender, and representation in archives and elsewhere.

JENNY: Within our archives Selma is a challenging topic to research. Although we have historic persons as well as organizations who participated in Selma and other events of the Civil Rights movement, the vast majority of material is photographs. Small amounts of other material that relates to the history of the civil rights movement can be found – but is generally integrated into other collections such as Mundelein College and that of scholar Suellen Hoy. These two collections contain relevant material on Selma, but also represent other important strengths of the Archives, particularly the history of women in the field of education.

Despite our many strengths, like every historical institution, the WLA has gaps. When thinking of this for our collections, we do not have much material that relates to hispanic women and there is also little that relates to the history and presence of various Asian populations in the midwest.

MOLLIE: But how do you even begin to collect? We don’t have a slew of people knocking down our door desperate to donate their personal papers or organization’s records on a daily basis. Many people don’t even know that archives,  much less the WLA, exist. Often class or educational levels can play a role in a person’s knowledge of archives, which could lead to somewhat homogenous donors and collections. How can archivists reach out to fill in these gaps?

Mahalia Jackson, 1962. Photo taken by Carl Van Vechten.  Carl Van Vechten photograph collection, Library of Congress.

Mahalia Jackson, 1962. Photo by Carl Van Vechten. Carl Van Vechten photograph collection, Library of Congress.

JENNY: Taking inspiration from the Civil Rights movement, who are some Black women leaders or activists in the Civil Rights movement who could be part of ours or another archive’s collections? Why have I not learned about them? Take for example, Mahalia Jackson. Born New Orleans in 1926, Jackson was a nationally-renowned gospel singer who worked for 40 years in the music industry. She also actively participated in the Civil Rights movement, singing at multiple national rallies and events, but this portion of her history is overshadowed. I found Jackson’s page on Wikipedia, as well as entries on biography and music history sites. Much of the information I found was brief, noting two to three paragraphs of accomplishments and referencing her association with more publicly known figures of the Civil Rights movement. Wikipedia’s page has background on her childhood and youth, her career, her activism in the Civil Rights movement, as well as her death and legacy.

MOLLIE: Although Mahalia Jackson has a pretty decent Wikipedia page in terms of length, it is by no means complete. But unlike many other women, she actually has a page, which let Jenny learn about her in the first place. Like almost all Wikipedia articles about women, Jackson’s article is subject to gender bias. In the section on her Civil Rights activism, the article focuses on her relationships with Ralph Abernathy and Martin Luther King, Jr. rather on how Jackson herself contributed to the movement. Gender bias on Wikipedia can take many forms ranging from total exclusion of women to a bias in the way the article is written.

Archives are spaces where stories like Jackson’s reside, but they are also places of interaction. We want visitors to come and engage with, look at, touch (when appropriate), and discover the materials in our collections. But because barriers (getting there, navigating the finding aids, finding the time etc) often restrict people from engaging one-on-one with the collections, we have to ask ourselves how to tell the stories of the women in the archives. With Selma, we told the story of Mundelein College and their role in the march. Public programs contextualized the stories found in the archives while blog posts and web features made it available to a wider audience. But did we tell a complete story? Did we tell a good story? As an institution that collects and makes available women’s stories, gender bias issues found on Wikipedia are not as much of an issue for us.

At the March 12th Mundelein Remembers Selma event, panelists reached out beyond Mundelein’s story to talk about broader issues of race, gender, and religion during the 1960s and participants in the march recounted their personal experiences. Was it a good story? Yes – it was engaging and interesting. Was it complete? No. But no story can be one hundred percent complete and coherent. Archivists and public historians need to acknowledge the gaps in their collections and stories and work to close them through exhibits, general interactions with visitors, or Wikipedia edit-a-thons.

JennyJennifer Pederson is a Graduate Assistant at the Women and Leadership Archives. She will be graduating in May 2015 with a M.A. degree in Public History. In her spare time she enjoys stumbling upon public art and reorganizing her apartment.

 

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.


Mundelein Remembers Selma

Mundelein Remembers Selma: March 12, 4:00pm-5:30pm, Piper Hall, Room 201

Confederate flags are visible. Just passed a gas station filled with police; national guardsmen are everywhere. Some are in bushes, some on the road, all with walkie-talkies and guns. – Judy Hilkin, Mundelein Student, journal entry upon arriving in Montgomery

MC Selma posterOn March 23, 1965, Mundelein College sent twenty-eight students, eight faculty, two guests, one priest, and one doctor to Montgomery, Alabama to support the participants of the Freedom March from Selma to Montgomery.

Today Mundelein College only exists in spirit with the Ann Ida Gannon, BVM, Center for Women and Leadership, and in archival records with the Women and Leadership Archives. The Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) founded and began to operate Mundelein College in1930. They provided education to women until Mundelein affiliated with Loyola University Chicago in 1991.

MC Selma009Reactions on campus to the Mundelein group joining the civil rights march ranged from enthusiasm to opposition. Despite this, the college still elected to send a delegation to participate in the final leg of the march. What made Mundelein, a Catholic women’s college in Chicago, so committed to civil rights? What prompted students to go to Alabama?

On March 12 Mundelein Remembers Selma will explore this question, with special attention to the college’s decision to send faculty and students to participate in the Freedom March. Panelists will include Nancy Freeman, the Director of the Women and Leadership Archives; Dr. Prudence Moylan and Dr. Ann Harrington, BVM, Loyola History Professors Emeritae and former Mundelein College Professors; Judy Fitzgerald, alumna of Mundelein College and march participant; and John Fitzgerald, alumnus of Loyola University Chicago and march participant.

Please join us for this wonderful program!

Mundelein Remembers Selma: March 12, 4:00pm-5:30pm, Piper Hall, Room 201

Be sure to stick around for the reception following the program!

Women’s History Month Kick-off

The theme of Women's History Month for 2015 is Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives.

The 2015 theme of Women’s History Month is Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives. Photo from the National Women’s History Project.

As I pondered the task before me, writing the blog post to introduce March as Women’s History Month, I found myself wondering…what is the history of Women’s History Month? When did it start and what were the reasons? There is irony and humor in the history of Women’s History Month but that aside, how did it all start?

An International Women’s Day began in the early 20th century, first at the end of February than later, in March. The more recent history of celebrating women’s history started in 1978 when the school district of Sonoma, CA, participated in Women’s History Week, an event designed around the week of March 8th, International Women’s Day. The idea began to take off in 1979 at a summer conference on women’s history at Sarah Lawrence College. There participants heard of the success of the Sonoma County’s Women History Week celebration, wanted to carry it to their own organizations, communities, and schools, and agreed to work to secure a National Women’s History Week.

In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week. Also in 1980, the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) was founded in Santa Rosa, California by Molly Murphy MacGregor, Mary Ruthsdotter, Maria Cuevas, Paula Hammett and Bette Morgan to broadcast women’s historical achievements.

Barbara_Mikulski

Representative (now Senator) Barbara Mikulski.

Responding to the growing popularity of Women’s History Week, in 1981, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) co-sponsored the first Joint Congressional Resolution proclaiming a Women’s History Week. Congress passed their resolution as Pub. L. 97-28, which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week. The Week took off in popularity and by 1986, fourteen states had declared March as Women’s History Month.

In 1987, after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as Women’s History Month. Various Congressional resolutions and presidential proclamations later, March is clearly cemented as Women’s History Month.

I’ve been interested in women’s history since my college days in the 1980s. I knew some of the history of Women’s History Month but not all of it. My first surprise was learning that the month had roots in International Women’s Day that started at the turn of the 20th Century.

Fast forward to the late 1970s and early 1980s and we come to my next surprise. Who knew Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) sponsored anything together? For readers who don’t know who Hatch and Mikulski are, Google them to totally understand the magnitude of this cooperation. Their joint legislation only goes to show the tremendous bi-partisan support for a month to honor women and their contributions throughout history.

A photo of Mundelein College students from the WLA's collection.

A photo of Mundelein College students in the Marksmanship Club, circa 1940, from the WLA’s collection.

Here we are in 2015 celebrating Women’s History Month. I’ve taken to joking that Women’s History Month is made for the WLA. To celebrate the Month, there will be a feature every week on the WLA website highlighting a woman or organization from our collections.

In addition, for those on Loyola’s campus, a display in Cudahy Library will feature artists from the WLA collections. Very different artists, I might add. If you’re in the Loyola neighborhood stop by Cudahy and take a look.

Enjoy Women’s History Month!
IMG_0021-149x110Nancy Freeman became Director of the WLA in spring, 2013. Prior to that, Nancy worked as 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 working on all things archival, 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.