Start of a New School Year

Universities around the country are now in full swing. Returning students fall into a familiar routine while incoming freshman spend their first days figuring out class schedules and getting the lay of the land. Articles and photographs in the Skyscraper give some idea as to how Mundelein College* students rang in the new school year. Freshman and upperclassmen alike participated in socials, dances, and a Big Sister program.

Students advertising Freshman Day, 1936

Students advertising Freshman Day, 1936

Much information about the new students can be found in the Skyscraper. Yearly, the front page of the newspaper featured a photo of the “First Ladies.” The women featured in the photos were students from the incoming freshman class that were the top students in their high school class. The newspaper recognizes all incoming students with articles containing demographics and statistics of the incoming freshman class. These include what schools, states, and countries the students came from as well as if there was an increase in enrollment. Staff and faculty are also recognized, including one article highlighting that the new faculty studies in seven countries.

Skyscraper newspaper clipping from 1936 highlighting the freshman class

Skyscraper newspaper clipping from 1936 highlighting the freshman class

Top-ranked freshman with their Mundelein Beanies, 1966

Top-ranked freshman with their Mundelein Beanies, 1966

One start-of-the-year tradition stands out when perusing through the Skyscraper: the Beanie Bounce. The dance was in conjunction with the freshman from Loyola. All the freshman attendees don their green beanies that signify they are first years. The Beanie Bounce began in 1949 and was one of the many events the Mundelein sophomores sponsored. Mundelein and Loyola student councils jointly sponsored the event as well.

Starting days before the dance, Mundelein and Loyola students “Beanie Hide’ N Seek. Mundelein students take one of the Loyola men’s beanies but she does not know what the owner looks like. Before and during the Beanie Bounce, the Mundelein student searches for the person that matches the name associated with the beanie. Customarily, the man saves a dance for the lady that has his hat. By the look of the yearly articles reporting on the event, the Beanie Bounce was always a tremendous success.

Skyscraper newspaper clipping from 1958

Skyscraper newspaper clipping from 1958

Skyscraper newspaper clipping from 1959

Skyscraper newspaper clipping from 1959

From my research, the last mention of the Beanie Bounce in the Skyscraper appears in 1960. In 1966, Loyola University Chicago became fully coeducational. The transition to a coed university may have had an impact on the dance as LUC was no longer solely for men. In any case, the beginning of the school year can be an exciting time with both old and new traditions. The Beanie Bounce is just one of several beginning of the year activities. Check out the online digital Skyscraper collection and photograph collection to learn more about Mundelein and their many traditions!

* Mundelein College, founded and operated by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM), provided education to women from 1930 until 1991, when it affiliated with Loyola University Chicago.


Megan Bordewyk
Megan is a Graduate Assistant at the WLA and is in the second 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.


Women and Leadership Archives Summer Reading List

Buildings_Piper_Hall_Library-2

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.


#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.