Collaborating to Commemorate the Suffrage Centennial

This summer, PhD candidates Cate LiaBraaten and Sean Jacobson created a video series for the Frances Willard House Museum’s commemoration of the 19th Amendment Centennial. This series, Suffrage Sundays. explores the connections between the temperance movement and the suffrage movement. In this blog post, Cate and Sean discuss working on a public history project collaboratively. To view the Suffrage Sundays video series, please visit the Frances Willard House’s Youtube Channel. For more information on the intersection of temperance and suffrage, please see this blog post Cate wrote. Additionally, check out another project from the Frances Willard House: Truth-Telling project: Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells.

Cate: Since I reached out to you about joining me on this project, what made you say yes? That is, what do you look for when taking on a new project, especially a collaborative one?

Sean: Honestly, the public history scene has felt pretty moribund since the pandemic. I had been hoping to get involved in volunteer work at public history venues during the summer, but when so many places closed, I had given up on things for a time. So when you reached out to me about Suffrage Sundays, I was thrilled to be a part of another collaborative project and apply skills I’ve gained both from my public history coursework and my training in video production. When taking on new projects, it’s always important to me that I’m doing something that either expands my historical knowledge or advances skills. Doing collaborative work is also helpful practice for anyone wanting to work in public history!

Cate: When it comes to technical skills, how much experience do you think emerging museum professionals need to have before taking on a project—is there room for learning on the fly?

Sean: I think technical know-how is becoming more important in making history accessible to younger generations. The pandemic has made this all the more relevant. That being said, the technology we have now on smartphones is to the point where you don’t need expensive equipment or a formal training in media studies to create good products. I think it behooves historians to pick up on basic video or editing skills because, not unlike writing books or creating exhibits, video production has largely to do with telling narratives. I think historians can overcome some of their intimidation by thinking about gathering footage, recording audio, and editing as analogous to stages of research. You can absolutely learn skills on the fly, especially if you pay attention to some basic tips and strategies (e.g., NEVER shoot in “portrait” mode on a smartphone, record human voices with an isolated audio track, etc.). There are tons of tutorials on YouTube. The best way to learn skills is actually by doing.

Cate: Sometimes it’s challenging for emerging professionals to do projects outside of a school setting or a highly formalized work setting. What are some ways you think people can make collaborative projects work when there’s no clear leader—no boss directly involved or professor?

Sean: I think what we did was delineate specific roles based on what each person’s strengths are. Since you know more about women’s history and the Progressive Era, I trusted your judgment when it came to what to include in the scripts, the images you wanted to include, and the overall purpose of the videos. Likewise, you trusted my judgment when it came to what B-roll footage to include, how to record your voiceover, and the inclusion of music tracks. It certainly helps that we already had that personal rapport with each other since we’re in the same PhD cohort! It’s definitely trickier when you’re collaborating with people you don’t know, so that’s why it’s important to articulate from the start what particular roles each participant has. When it’s a group of 3 or more, I think it’s always helpful to designate someone as a “project manager” to facilitate both internal and external communication. I also believe having a shared project folder in OneDrive or Google Drive is a must!

Okay, now my turn to ask you questions. What inspired you to undertake this Suffrage Sundays project in the first place? And why did you decide on a video series as a medium?

Cate: At the Willard House we’ve been planning on doing something to commemorate the 19th amendment centennial for a long time. We had a series of events for summer 2020 in the works and were kicking off Women’s History month in March when the COVID-19 pandemic really changed everything. I wanted to do some suffrage related programming that could be accessible to people at home. I considered building an online exhibit or website, but one of the Willard House’s most recent projects, Truth Telling, (led by Loyola PhD Candidate Ella Wagner) is on a digital platform, and I wanted to do something totally different–especially because that project already fits its medium so spectacularly! When trying to decide what to do, I came across a video series from the Smithsonian called “Light Talks” –two-minute videos about birds. I loved the two-minute video series format! 

Sean: How did you go about selecting topics and featured items for the episodes? Would your process have been similar or different if you were choosing items to exhibit in a museum display?

Cate: I think it was very similar to creating an exhibit. I came up with a broad theme first: that suffrage work and temperance work were overlapping areas of women’s activism and leadership. Then I thought about what artifacts we had that tell that story. Some things I knew I wanted to use immediately, like the suffrage map. Other things, like the Lucy Stone letter, I found after our archivist, Janet Olson, directed me to suffrage-related materials in the archives. 

Sean: What about writing the scripts? How did your previous public history training come into play when trying to write scripts for short videos?

Cate: Writing the scripts was both like and unlike other projects. In a way, I thought about what I would include when writing object labels–a balance of generalized information and information specific to the item. I also thought about giving tours of the house museum–what would I say (or have I said) to visitors about the specific objects if we were seeing them together and in person? I think teaching experience helped too, because there’s never enough time to say everything you want to say! 

Sean: What did you learn from this project, and how would you do anything different for a similar project in the future?

Cate: I’ll start with the second question–one thing I might do differently is give more overview information upfront. Most of the audience of this series will likely already know what temperance is and who Frances Willard was. In a similar project I would likely broaden the scope.  One thing I learned from this project was the power of networking (for lack of a better way to describe it). When I decided I wanted to do this project, I knew I didn’t have the videography skills needed to create as high-quality videos as I wanted, and fortunately I already knew you! I liked thinking of this project as an opportunity to highlight the strengths of a colleague as well as the story itself. I could have done the videography myself, but it would have turned out worse and taken more time! It was really nice to see what using different people’s skill sets can produce.

New Book Reveals Whaling in Chicago and Questions of Public History

By Daniel Gifford

Imagine a museum dedicated to whaling, set on a venerable old whaling ship from New Bedford, floating majestically in Chicago—first at the foot of the State Street Bridge, and later in the gleaming White City of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Whenever I tell people this is the subject of my new book, The Last Voyage of the Whaling Bark Progress: New Bedford, Chicago and the Twilight of an Industry (McFarland Press, 2020), they invariably say how cool it all sounds.

Figure 1: The Progress in the South Pond of the World’s Columbian Exposition, 1893. Book of the Fair, Fin de Siècle Edition, Section Three. Hubert Howe Bancroft. (Chicago: The Bancroft Company, 1893).

The Progress was conceived as New Bedford’s paean to American whaling. Thousands turned out for her departure from the Massachusetts city as she began her journey across North America to Chicago. On that blustery day in June 1892 few would have questioned the assumption that the whaling industry would be gloriously represented and lauded at the most important world’s fair in the nation’s history.

Instead, the Progress was a failed sideshow of marine curiosities, a metaphor for a dying industry out of step with Gilded Age America, and an unmitigated disaster. The enterprise lost her investors a significant fortune, especially Chicago coal baron Henry Weaver. The Progress became a running joke in the final years of the nineteenth century. At one point the once-proud whaling bark was advertised for sale in the classified ads of the Chicago Tribune, just above the notice, “Wanted—A well trained driving goat.” Fire and dynamite eventually sent her to the bottom of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Calumet River.

What does it mean to transform a dying industry into “a museum piece”? That ultimately was the question I kept returning to as I researched and wrote about this strange moment when the history of the American whaling industry intersected with the 1890’s most celebrated freshwater metropolis. It remains a decidedly relevant question today as modern museums strive to preserve, interpret, and contextualize industries such as coal, steel, and manufacturing. Like those industries now, whaling was not dead by the 1890s, just greatly reduced. But it did still continue, remaining a way of life for a cadre of men and their families.

Discovering the ignominious fate of the Progress in Chicago thus opened doors to a decidedly contemporary set of lessons for museum practitioners today. What, exactly, went wrong? And what, if anything, can we learn from those failures over 100 years later? To answer those questions, I realized that I needed to go back much further than the heady months of the Columbian Exposition. That is why my book starts in 1850s New Bedford—the golden age of American whaling. Just like many industries and communities today, New Bedford had developed its own historical memory around whaling’s place in the American narrative. In the case of New Bedford, this blossomed into a literal religious zeal for the industry. The illuminative products of whaling—lamp fuel, lighthouse oil, clean-burning candles—became infused with the Quaker faith, built upon a foundation of light-versus-dark metaphors, beliefs, and practices. When New Bedford’s motto declared Lucem Diffundo— “we diffuse light”—it was both a civic statement and an evangelical claim.

This sort of industrial pride can be incredibly useful for conceiving and executing a museum. That instinct fed the idea of a whaling museum at the Columbian Exposition. The problem is that it can also create blind spots and tunnel vision. Over and over I found a disconnect between New Bedford’s inherent belief in whaling’s relevance and romance, and the way the trade was perceived by others. This included the Chicago syndicate that ultimately funded and ran the museum.

As the Progress journeyed across North America to Chicago via a network of rivers, canals, and finally the Great Lakes, she made a series of intermediate stops as a ticketed attraction. Curious sightseers in Montreal, Buffalo, Racine, and Milwaukee all got a chance to visit the whaling museum before her grand debut in Chicago in July 1892. Tracing that journey as a public historian was especially illuminating because it also showed how the museum changed the further away from New Bedford it went. Today, public historians take it as an article of faith that a museum needs to be connected to its community. The Progress is a terrific case study in this concept, or more accurately, its opposite. The further from whaling’s heart the bark traveled, the more it was severed from its community—a community that was already a shadow of what it had once been.

Figure 2: “The Arctic Whaler Progress.” G.A. Coffin. “There She Blows. (Chicago: Arctic Whaling Exhibit Co., 1893).

Each stop on the way to Chicago seemed to push the Progress further and further away from the concept of a faithful representation of whaling and the whaling industry. When the whaleship arrived in the waters of Lake Michigan, the transformation into a museum of exotica, curiosities, and maritime hodgepodge was nearly complete. By the time she was moored on the Chicago River, even her New Bedford whaling crew had been replaced with freshwater sailors from Chicago’s schooners. My book explores this tension between an educational experience emphasizing completeness and authenticity, and an entertaining experience emphasizing crowd-pleasing spectacle. This push-and-pull dynamic from more than a century ago is surely not lost on museum practitioners today.

Figure 3: Cover, Souvenir Brochure, State Street Bridge, Chicago. 1892.

The Progress’ years in Chicago up until the fiery dynamiting in 1902 are filled with stories both hair-raising and sad, all of which I trust will be fascinating to any Chicago history aficionado. She sank in the Chicago River with 200 schoolchildren aboard. (Spoiler alert: they escaped!) She sat encased in ice on the Columbian Exposition fairgrounds while workers built the White City around her. Henry Weaver—whose coal money brought the Progress to Chicago and funded the eventual “Arctic Whaling Museum and 10,000 Marine Curiosities Between Decks”—went into receivership. The brand-new Field Columbian Museum bought and displayed the Progress’ vast collection in its first year, only to have museum curators rebel and unceremoniously kick the whaling artifacts out of Chicago at the first opportunity.

By the time I had worked my way to the end of the story, I was fully conscious of the temptation to point fingers and cast blame. Was Henry Weaver the villain here, or perhaps Chicago itself? Did the city’s Gilded Age love of everything modern and profitable make a whaling museum doomed from the beginning? Ultimately, I leave it up to the reader to decide, but I believe simple answers are elusive. Instead, I hope that my book sparks conversations about how to honor communities that may not be ready for their final eulogy or want a museum to become their mausoleum. The story of the Progress is a microhistory for those interested in commemoration, speaking to us over a hundred years later about how to value an industry. All we need do is listen.

The Last Voyage of the Whaling Bark Progress: New Bedford, Chicago and the Twilight of an Industry by Daniel Gifford is available on Amazon.com and other online vendors: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08945YF7F/

Daniel Gifford, Ph.D.’s career spans academia and public history, including George Mason University, George Washington University, and the Smithsonian Institution. A scholar of American popular culture and museums studies, he currently teaches at several universities near his home in Louisville, Kentucky.

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HGSA Statement of Support

Monday, June 22, 2020

We, the Board of Loyola’s History Graduate Student Association, condemn the brutal killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis Police officer and grieve alongside Floyd’s family, the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the nation for his death and the deaths of countless others. This pain is not new; it is centuries-old and insidious, weaving itself into the fabric of our society. Many groups have spoken out more eloquently and more poignantly than us, yet as historians we feel a particular call to add our voices to the nationwide – and international – outcry.

We recognize the systemic targeting of the black community that dates back to the very foundation of our country. It is our duty as historians to provide context and interpretation of our past so we can better understand our present and change our future. For decades, some members of our profession have manipulated and misrepresented history in order to reinforce and justify white supremacy. As the next generation of historians, we must dedicate ourselves to recognizing, confronting, and challenging the version of history they left us with and the deeply flawed system that narrative has enabled to thrive.

To jumpstart crucial, long-overdue conversations about race in history, Loyola’s HGSA Board of 2020-21 is starting an antiracism initiative. In the coming days, we will be rolling out resources to spark learning, thought, and conversation about race in America. We do not know where this will end up, but we hope it will grow into a valuable project for starting difficult conversations and guiding our individual and collective paths to confronting racism. If you are interested in helping with this project, feel free to contact Rachel Madden (rmadden1@luc.edu) and Erin Witt (ewitt@luc.edu). 

We also urge you to read the statement by the Loyola Black Graduate Student Alliance (BGSA) on recent events and consider their concrete goals for Loyola to better support Black / African-American grad students, found here. In their words, “we look to the University to truly take on the work needed to acknowledge, address, and dismantle unjust structures evident even within our own classrooms.” The HGSA Board stands with them on their demands for measurable change on campus. 

Words on a page and conversation should only be the beginning – change requires a call to action. If you are able, we encourage you to consider donating money, time, or other forms of support to organizations that work to counteract the deep roots and pervasive effects of racial discrimination in our country. The following are a few of the many organizations doing the vital work needed to effect lasting change:

In solidarity with our neighbors, we also urge you to consider supporting local black-owned businesses. Below are a few options:

This conversation is just beginning. While the process of pulling back the curtain of our assumptions and accepted narratives can be painful, it is necessary if we are to understand how we got here and at what cost. This process is a lifelong commitment, one that demands honesty, humility, and open mindedness from all of us. Feelings of pain, frustration, anger, confusion, and guilt are normal and expected. Listen to those feelings, recognize your privilege in your ability to even have them, acknowledge them, and turn them into action. Only with that understanding can we begin the work of creating a truly equitable and just society.

Sincerely,

The Loyola History Graduate Student Association Boards, 2020-21 and 2019-20

2020-21:

President Scarlett Andes, MA Public History

Vice President Rachel Madden, PhD Public History & American History

Treasurer Casey Terry, MA Public History

Secretary Miranda Ridener, MA Public History

Media Coordinator Ve’Amber Miller, MA Public History

Conference Committee Co-Chair Erin Witt, Dual MLIS/MA Public History

Public History Chair Elizabeth Schmidt, MA Public History

2019-20:

President Anthony Stamilio, MA Public History

Vice President Emily-Paige Taylor, PhD U.S. Public History & American History

Treasurer Hannah Overstreet, MA Public History

Secretary Davis Stubblefield, MA History

Media Coordinator Alicia Ziemat, MA Public History

Conference Committee Co-Chair Cate LiaBraaten, PhD Public History & American History

Conference Committee Co-Chair Sophia Croll, PhD Public History & American History

Celebrating One Hundred Years of Oral Care

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series of essays written by students of the Fall 2018 Public History course and based on research at Loyola’s University Archives and Special Collections.

Forty-five years ago, Loyola University Chicago was celebrating a different anniversary: the Centennial Celebration of the Loyola University School of Dentistry-College of Dental Surgery. The school marked the occasion through several activities, events, and seminars. The events and programs highlighted the spirit of the occasion and showcased the school’s talents, camaraderie, and achievements.

The Loyola University Chicago School of Dentistry-College of Dental Surgery was founded in 1883 as the Chicago Dental Infirmary. The Chicago Dental Infirmary was the first dental school in Chicago and eventually became the largest dental school in the world. [1] The first dean of the Chicago Dental Infirmary was Truman W. Brophy who served from 1883 to 1920. In the beginning, the school was only open to those who held medical degrees. The course was designed as twenty weeks long and to be completed directly after medical school. The medical school requirement, however, resulted in small class sizes and only two graduates at the end of the second course year. This prompted Dean Brophy and the school’s board to create the Chicago College of Dental Surgery which removed the prerequisite of a medical degree while also teaching medical courses. [2] During its first three decades, the school existed as a stand-alone institution as well as associated with numerous universities. In 1923, the school affiliated with Loyola University. [3]

Figure 1: First Classes were held in this building on Adams Street.

The school moved locations three different times during its first six years before landing at the intersection of Wood and Harrison Streets on the West Side of Chicago in 1893. The building went through numerous renovations as increasing class sizes called for larger facilities. Building changes, however, were not the only changes happening at the dental school. By 1935, the course had become four years long with sixty credit hours or two years of undergraduate education completed. [4]

Figure 2: Wood and Harrison Street location

The dental school remained at the Harrison Street location until a new facility was built in 1969 at Loyola’s Maywood Medical Campus. [5] By this point the school had undergone major changes, especially under the direction of Dean William Schoen. Dr. Schoen was a graduate of the Loyola School of Dentistry in 1929 and became dean in 1957. During his tenure, the school increased postgraduate and orthodontic courses, celebrated its Diamond Jubilee, moved to an expansive new location, and developed closed circuit television to teach courses. [6]

Figure 3: New Dental School location in Maywood, IL

During the 1970s the school further improved their Dental Hygienist and Dental Assistant degree programs. [7] The development of these programs also coincided with an increase in female students both as dental hygienists and as holders of Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degrees. By 1983 the school had become the largest in the state and enrolled on average five hundred students a year. [8] The Loyola University School of Dentistry-College of Dental Surgery opened its Centennial Celebration with a Centennial Convocation on January 23, 1983. The Centennial also marked the ten-thousandth graduate of the dental school. [9] There proved to be much to celebrate and Loyola University did so in a multitude of ways.

 The dental school received well-wishes from various dignitaries and prominent figures, including then President Ronald Reagan. He congratulated “the faculty, alumni, and students of the oldest dental school in Illinois on their efforts to bring excellent dental care to the community they serve.” [10] The many words of praise and congratulations highlighted the school’s accomplishments throughout its history. During the course of the year, the school celebrated by hosting seminars, masses an alumni travel seminar, and a homecoming banquet.

Figure 4: Centennial Travel Seminar Brochure.

The school’s numerous seminars started in January and ended in November. Some topics included “Orthodontics for the General Practioner,” “Crown and Bridge,” and “New Products and Foreign Dentistry.” [11] If you could afford it, the school also offered an alumni Continuing Education Seminar in Hawaii. The seminar was held for a week with varying program levels to tailor to your needs and costs. One could, for example, spend a week on Honolulu or split the week between Honolulu and Kona or Maui. Over the course of the week, five days were devoted to seminars on various topics, the seminars only lasted six hours so one would have plenty of time to explore the other activities of the islands while reuniting with former classmates. The travel seminar was also timed to commence right after the annual American Dental Association convention taking place in Los Angeles so many of the programs included a stopover from one’s hometown in Los Angeles to attend the convention as well. [12] The travel seminar offered alumni a chance to get together, celebrate the Centennial, and continue their education with seminar courses.

If you received an invitation to the Centennial Homecoming Banquet you would have received the invite above, cordially inviting you to join the school in the Grand Ballroom of the Conrad Hilton Hotel on April 20, 1983 for an evening of cocktails, dinner, honorees recognition, and award presentations. [13] Also included in your invite letter would be an RSVP card and a notice of a block of hotel rooms at the Conrad Hilton Hotel reserved for the evening. A single room cost fifty dollars a night and a double room cost sixty dollars. [14] Many other invitations were sent for the school’s various programming and events throughout the year.

Figure 5: You’re invited! Invitation to Loyola School of Dentistry Centennial Homecoming Banquet.

On April 10, 1983, you would have had the chance to participate in a Mass of Thanksgiving to commemorate the Centennial. The mass was celebrated by the University President, Reverend Raymond C. Baumhart, S.J. The Prayer of the Faithful was conducted by the dental school’s own Dean, Dr. Raffaele Suriano. Various other members of the faculty, staff, alumni, and students of the dental school and University participated in the mass. [15] The Mass of Thanksgiving became another chance for current students, alumni, and faculty to celebrate the school’s anniversary.

The dental school celebrated its one-hundredth birthday in 1983 and Loyola University will be celebrating its sesquicentennial in 2020. However, the dental school will not be part of the celebrations. The dental school closed its doors in 1993. Loyola’s dental school was not the only dental school to close at the end of the 20th century. At the time of its closure, five other private dental schools had recently closed, leaving only fifty-five dental schools across the nation. [16] In 2001, Illinois’ only other private dental school at Northwestern University, closed its doors. Many schools cited increasing costs and decreasing enrollments as needs for closure. [17] Even as the doors remain shuttered 25 years later, the Loyola Dental School’s legacy of preeminent dental care continues to keep the school alive for many today.

The Loyola University School of Dentistry-College of Dental Surgery saw many changes over its history. The school grew from a small, two graduate course to the largest dental school in Illinois. Ever expanding, both in size and location, the school continued to transform itself to meet the time’s needs in dental care. The celebration of these improvements and history crowned with the school’s Centennial Celebration in 1983. The school hosted events for students, faculty, and alumni including: seminars, masses, a massive homecoming banquet as well as outings and a travel seminar to Hawaii. The dental school made large strides in dental education, care, and service which called for a year’s worth of celebrating that legacy. The school’s thousands of graduates are a testament to that legacy.

-Alicia Zeimet

Animal Crossing, Museums, and Space for Contemplation

I’ve never been interested in video games, and up until recently I didn’t even know how to turn on our household gaming console. Not long after the Illinois Stay-At-Home order, my husband suggested I try Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It was a perfect suggestion: building a delightful animated community has been an enjoyable escape. The game involves building a village from a handful of tents on an island, and I was surprised to see that one of the earliest public buildings that can be unlocked and built—even before shops and restaurants—was a museum.

Image 1: Cate and her husband on a date to an art exhibit.

The museum is hosted by a lone employee, a professorial owl who serves as curator (and apparently registrar, educator, administrator, guest services representative, collections manager, exhibit designer, et cetera). The Animal Crossing museum begins as a natural history museum, stocked with fossils, bugs, and fish that players collect. Later, the museum can be expanded to include an art wing.  I’ve been considering what it means for a game (especially one that has been mocked for its overly capitalistic trappings) to include a museum as one of the first buildings in a community.

At first, I found it frustrating—I felt obligated to stock the museum with fossils and fish, but I also knew I could sell them to pay off my unavoidable in-game debts. Choosing between a love of museums and financial solvency is something I have had to do too many times in my real life to feel it was fun in a game.

I’ve grown fonder of the museum and have contributed more to it as time has gone on (and my debts have been paid). As my island community as has grown, the museum remains the only true public building besides the home base “visitor services” center and built-in airport. I’ve yet to see an opportunity to build a school, library, post office, or any other public building.

The Animal Crossing museum is a flat version of a museum: it’s about collecting and displaying. This was my predominate thought until my nephews sent their avatars to my island. We talked on the phone together while our cartoon projections of ourselves ran around the screen. As this global pandemic has worn on, the few times I’ve played Animal Crossing with my nephews has been a perfect example of the social experiences we’ve all been having—separate but together, interacting virtually. My nephews are avid museum goers—curious about the world and their place in it– and right away they wanted to visit my digital museum.

Image 2: Cate and her nephew express delight and wonder in the natural history wing.

Walking around the dimly-lit halls with them, looking at animated fossils, I was reminded of the roles museums play beyond collecting and displaying. I began thinking about museums as space. Although I don’t know when my nephews or I will be able to visit a museum again, we were able to pretend for a little bit. As the realm of acceptable spaces for me to be has drastically shrunk, I’ve been reminded of why spaces are important.

Historians have long discussed the role or need for the real, the tangible, when we have the digital. Are digital exhibits just as informative as in person exhibits? Probably more so, because one can peruse them without the distractions and bodily discomfort of being in a museum space. Various email lists I am subscribed to have recently sent me articles hyping “10 Museum Exhibits You Can Visit Virtually” or other similar promises, and I’ve been interested in how many of these digital tours emphasize a feeling of walking though the museum space more than serving as a virtual exhibit. Without being there, one can imagine they are.

Museum spaces matter for housing and displaying objects, but they also matter because the spaces themselves facilitate our experiences. Museums can be social spaces, and many of us are currently craving places for in-person socialization. As a university educator, I was forcefully reminded this semester that learning can happen anywhere, so while museum spaces facilitate learning they are by no means the only way for this to happen. For social and educational needs, we are forced to confront the fact that museums aren’t “essential.”

The value of museums as physical spaces, then, is neither solely educational nor solely social, though tied to both. The true value is in contemplation. How many public spaces do we have for contemplation? Museums are spaces where we can think. We can sit and process what we’ve learned, we can share it with others, and we can process our wonder, our awe, our confusion, and even our skepticism. In museums (and to a degree, parks and libraries), it’s okay to openly show our delight and our understanding or lack thereof. It’s okay to obviously wowed, bewildered, amazed, or even lost. In museum spaces we can exist fully and without an expectation of spending money to support a for-profit agenda—how many other places can say the same?

Museums across the country have upped their online presence during the pandemic and consistently proven just how important, relevant, and useful their collections and information are. The range of digital resources that have become available or have been highlighted is impressive and vital. Not being in museums has highlighted how much they have and how useful it is in ways that a traditional visit might not have been able to. The biggest takeaway from not being in museums, though, is how magic they are as spaces, and how much we miss them. Even with this vast array of content available, I’ve found it challenging to find wonder in my own apartment. When we’re at home, expressing our feelings is not as significant as the opportunity museums provide to do so in public.

In the Animal Crossing museum, my nephews and I ran up and down the stairs, read exhibit labels, and used our “delight” reaction. But we also sat on a bench together. It was only for a moment, but sitting on a bench made of pixels in an imaginary museum provided a tiny opportunity for reflection—almost like the real thing.

-Cate LiaBraaten

Loyola University’s Unusual Students: Italian POWs and Loyola University

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series of essays written by students of the Fall 2018 Public History course and based on research at Loyola’s University Archives and Special Collections. Check back over the next four weeks for new stories.

The Jesuit mission is to “to work for reconciliation every day — with God, with human beings and with the environment” [1]. As a Jesuit institution, Loyola University has used this statement as its guiding ideal in education and service. During World War II the world needed reconciliation more than ever before and Loyola University was compelled to extend its humanitarian mission of education to individuals who were otherwise considered enemies: prisoners of war.

Figure 1: Portrait of Marie Sheahan, head of the Home Studies Division and correspondent to Father Ferreri. (Photo Credit: “Mary Sheahan”, One Hundred Years of Knowledge in the Service of Man:  Loyola University of Chicago, 1870 – 1970”, Box 1, Folder 3, Correspondence Study Division, Loyola University Archives, Loyola University Chicago.)

From 1922 to 1985 Loyola University maintained a Home Study Division (later renamed the Correspondence Study Division), which allowed students who could not reach the campus to take courses in a variety of subjects [2]. Like others of its kind, this program was popular among students who were housewives, who lived in the countryside, and who had to work full-time. Loyola University’s division was unique as it was the only Catholic university that cooperated with the United States Armed Forces Institute (USAFI), which provided high school and college education to American service members [3]. In addition to providing correspondence courses to Americans serving in the armed forces, Loyola University partnered with Father Achilles F. Fererri (Captain, AUS) to offer courses to Italian prisoners of war.  The USAFI only covered American service members, so this decision went above and beyond Loyola’s contractual obligations.

Father Fererri was the chaplain at Camp Hereford, a prisoner of war camp in Hereford, Texas [4]. The prison held five thousand Italian prisoners of war who were captured in North Africa [5]. Out of these five thousand prisoners, fifty-four enrolled in correspondence courses through Loyola University [6]. English courses were by far the most popular with twenty-two imprisoned students enrolling in those courses. Spanish and French language courses were also popular with eleven and four students each.  Six soldiers enrolled in Sociology courses, five in law, four in Economics, and three in both Biology and Education. Psychology, Philosophy, Geology, and Latin each had only one student enrolled [7]. The Loyola University Archives does not have any record of what grades these students received.  Although the Correspondence Division kept records of all the enrollment fees and book purchases, all coursework was sent directly from the students to the professors [8]. Despite this lack of record, it is likely that these imprisoned soldiers worked diligently on their assignments.  After all, there was precious little entertainment available in prisoner of war camps.

Figure 2: Camp Hereford prisoners with priests, standing outside St. Mary’s church. (Photo Credit: St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Umbarger, TX. Accessed December 11, 2018, https://stmarysumbarger.com/)

Fifty-four students are a small percentage of five thousand inmates, but there were several factors that likely limited who among the prisoners at Hereford could take classes. First, such courses necessitated a certain level of language skills and education. Soldiers who were barely literate or who had left school at a young age would not have been able to take college classes. The second, and arguably more important limitation, was money.  Like any other students, these soldiers had to pay course fees and buy books and only a few could afford to do so.

Loyola University initially offered a half-rate discount only to prisoners of war who were not commissioned officers. In a 1944 letter to Marie Sheahan, the head of the Home Study Division, Father Ferreri explained that the commissioned offers were not paid as well as U.S. officers. Most of the officers interred at Hereford were first or second Lieutenants and received only twenty dollars per month to cover all the needs not provided by the prison. He also mentioned that Loyola’s neighbor, DePaul University of Chicago, offered a flat rate of $10.00 per course to prisoners of war regardless of rank [9]. While DePaul University also cooperated with the military for the benefit of foreign prisoners of war, DePaul was not a participating university in the United States Armed Forces Institute. Father Ferreri had originally believed that the discount rate applied to all of the students he oversaw and hoped that he could reach a similar bargain with Loyola so as not to disappoint his charges. Just over a week later Miss Sheahan replied that Loyola had not realized how small a salary the commissioned officers received and gladly extended the half-rate discount to all the students at Camp Hereford [10].


Figures 3 and 4: Left: Interior of St. Mary’s church prior to decoration by Italian POWs.  Exact date unknown. Right: Sanctuary of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Umbarger, Texas.  Interior decoration by Camp Hereford POWs and Loyola students.   (Photo Credit: St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Umbarger, TX. Accessed December 11, 2018, https://stmarysumbarger.com/)

Readers who are interested in World War II may have heard of Father Fererri and these Italian prisoners before as they were the subject of Donald Williams’ book Italian POWs and a Texas Church: The Murals of St. Mary’s. When food was scarce in Camp Hereford in 1945, Father Fererri found ways for the prisoners to use their artistic skills to work for food [11]. In the most remarkable of these activities Father Fererri and his friend the Reverend Krukkert arranged for talented artists among the inmates, mainly painters and carvers, as well as a few unskilled help-meets to decorate the interior of Krukkert’s St. Mary’s Church in nearby Umbarger, Texas [12]. Many of these same prisoners constructed used their skills in carving and painting to build a chapel that marks the graves of the five prisoners who died in the camp during their interment. 

Today the chapel is overseen by the Castro County Historical Commission and St. Mary’s Church likewise preserves the art of these imprisoned artists. In 1988, a group of the former prisoners returned for the chapel’s restoration ceremony. Only Mario De Dominicis’ name appears in both the student roster and Williams’ book, but this reunion leaves one to wonder how many uncredited Loyola students also worked on the chapel and St. Mary’s Church [13]. By working with the Armed Forces Institute, Loyola University uniquely contributed to the education of American service members as the only Catholic university to offer classes through the USAFI. By going the extra mile and offering classes to foreign prisoners of war who were not covered by the USAFI Loyola University fulfilled its Jesuit mission of reconciliation.

-Emily-Paige Taylor

Lecturing on the Big Screen: Closed-Circuit Television at the Loyola School of Dentistry

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series of essays written by students of the Fall 2018 Public History course and based on research at Loyola’s University Archives and Special Collections. Check back over the next six weeks for new stories.

Over the course of nearly a century, students sought out dental education in the United States in high demand. Dental schools popped up all across the country from the late-nineteenth century and into the mid-twentieth century, becoming well-rated, and drawing in an international pool of students. Some schools, especially in the late-nineteenth century, even required medical degrees upon admission. Even among hundreds of dental schools, some emerged as the best and most respected. One of these top-tier dental schools was the Loyola School of Dentistry. It all started in 1883, when Truman W. Brophy established the Chicago Dental Infirmary on 22 West Adams Street. Renamed the Chicago College of Dental Surgery (CCDS) with a new charter in 1888, the college grew quickly in size and reputation. Over its first 5 years, CCDS moved into new buildings a total of four times to accommodate the growing student population and dental technology needs. By 1893, the school found its longtime home at 1757 West Harrison Street [1].

Figure 1: Photograph of the Chicago College of Dental Surgery at 1757 W Harrison [2].

From its inception, CCDS pioneered the field of dental education and attracted students from across the globe. As early as 1890, school officials noted student enrollment from countries such as Canada, Germany, and Peru [3]. The school was the first to integrate the educational use of apparatuses for cultivating bacteria, and boasted a graduate, who later became Dean of Faculty, who was responsible for reorganizing the Dental Corps of the United States Army [4]. Though these innovations came within the school’s first forty years, CCDS continued to raise the standards of dental education. In 1923, the Chicago College of Dental Surgery affiliated with Loyola University Chicago. Under the university’s charter, and a newly formed Department of Dental Research, faculty members contributed to dental literature at an unprecedented pace. It was in 1954, however, that the Chicago College of Dental Surgery took one of its largest strides in pioneering dental education—It became the first dental school in the United States to own a permanent closed-circuit television system for clinical lectures [5].

Beginning in 1951, Loyola University reserved local channel 11 for the first round of TV programming coming from the university. Broadcasts included university updates, music programs, and Rev. Francis Filas, S.J.’s yearly Christmas special [6]. TV broadcasting from the university turned out to be a successful investment for Loyola. From the initial incorporation of university public broadcasting, departments of the university implemented the use of television for their own needs. The dental school was no exception.

As the student population at CCDS grew, so did the needs of faculty members to properly instruct clinical practices. Dental students typically crowded around one dental chair in order to observe the techniques of their professors. This manner of observation could only serve three to four students at one time, and the rest of the class would miss first-hand instruction on dental care. One way that CCDS attempted to alleviate the issue was by establishing a Department of Visual Education in 1950, where photographic slides were made available for classroom use [7]. Four years later, the alumni publication of CCDS, The Bur, reported a recent purchase by the department of a closed-circuit television [8]. The purchase reflected the broader effort by Loyola to implement educational material on broadcast television.

Figure 2: A pamphlet advertises closed-circuit television at the dental school [9].

Shortly after the Chicago College of Dental Surgery purchased the closed-circuit television equipment, the school presented its new clinical lecture method at the Chicago Dental Society Midwinter Meeting in February of 1954. The poster and table presentation, titled “Teaching Dentistry with TV,” displayed the advantages of the closed-circuit TV method. On the left side of the board, a picture showing students crowding around a dental chair to observe their professor is pinned with the caption “Few Really See.” On the right side of the board, presenters pinned a photo of current dental students watching a lecture with the TV projections. The caption under this photograph reads “Vision Unlimited.” Clearly, the dental school envisioned a bright future for its students upon adopting a new lecture style. The Bur also took a positive approach to the method. In the 1954 issue of the bulletin, editors praised the Visual Department’s new purchase:

In recent months this department has been highlighted with purchase of its own closed circuit television system. This means that the faculty at the dental school, through its own department of visual education, can televise any demonstration, technic or clinical procedure from anywhere in the dental school building, to any other part of the school. For example, it will be possible to televise an oral surgery procedure from the surgery to the amphitheatre, where it will be possible for 100 students to see what is being done instead of the usual one or two. The use will not be limited only to clinical demonstration, but will have a place also in laboratory demonstrations, such as setting up of teeth or even an anatomical [dissection]. [10]

Figure 3: The dental school’s presentation at the Chicago Dental Society meeting [11].

Within the first eight months of incorporated closed-circuit lecturing in the dental school curriculum, students and alumni already expressed positive interest in the new format. The Bur reported, “The days of a few students viewing an operation is past. Now the entire class has a front seat” [12]. Closed-circuit television opened avenues for the dental school. Students were no longer limited to a faraway view of their professors’ hands, nor did they need to rely on notes from classmates who had a closer look at clinical techniques. Displaying the professor’s work on televisions inside an amphitheater meant that more students could view the lecture at once; in effect, the dental school could accept more students into the program with the new method. Implementing closed-circuit television also decreased the amount of time professors spent on each lecture, since they could easily move from one technique to another without worrying about students’ poor vantage points.

Figure 4: Students watch their instructor on the screens at the front of the classroom [13].
Figure 5: A technician holds a camera for the procedure to be broadcast to a classroom [14].

Even after the incorporation of closed-circuit television for lecture halls, CCDS remained committed to innovative teaching methods and spaces. By the late 1960s, Loyola’s dental school was the only school in Illinois to teach the “four-handed, sit-down” method [15]. The method utilizes the help of dental assistants alongside the dental practitioner for more efficient dental hygiene appointments, and is still incorporated in dental assistant programs today. Additionally, a new dental school building was completed on the Maywood medical campus in 1969 to accommodate more students, lab space, and technology. During the centennial celebration of Loyola University in 1970, a commemorative booklet noted that fifty-one percent of Chicagoland dentists were graduates of CCDS [16]. Loyola’s dental school retained its strong reputation as one of the state’s largest dental schools until decreasing enrollment and high maintenance costs led to its closing in 1993. Although Loyola no longer has a formal college of dentistry, the former school’s Maywood building has been renamed the Maguire Center, and houses the medical campus’ Oral Health Center [17].

-Bianca Bárcenas

Mundelein and Loyola Speak Out: Social Activism in Student Publications (1967-2018)

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series of essays written by students of the Fall 2018 Public History course and based on research at Loyola’s University Archives and Special Collections. Check back over the next seven weeks for new stories.

With their Jesuit affiliation, social justice has been at the forefront of the missions of both Loyola University and Mundelein College.  With the approach of the 1960s, however, students and faculty felt particularly empowered to make their voices heard— at their home institutions, in their communities, and around the world.   In this post, we’ll look at a few examples of Loyola’s participation in social activism and political discourse over the past 50+ years.

Figure 1: Students and faculty debate the ramifications of the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War (1967), Skyscraper, 1967

“Every time we’ve escalated it’s because another policy has failed,” Loyola sociology professor Clark Kissinger, one of the “doves” on the panel, is quoted as saying in the Skyscraper, addressing the motivations behind the United States’ escalation of its involvement in the Vietnam War [1]. Reporters at the entirely student-run, Mundelein College newspaper were covering the April 26, 1967 Vietnam War Teach-In, an opportunity for discussion and reflection about the causes and implications of our nation’s continued involvement in the conflict abroad.  While the headline clearly addresses the tension between those on either side of the debate, the panel distribution hints at the majority political leanings of the school’s student body and staff as well.

Figure 2: Students confront Loyola administration at 1969 Student Convocation, Loyola News, 1969

“…probably the first time university administrators were criticized to their faces…”  In 1969, Loyola’s “very best” students were invited by the administration to attend the Honors Convocation and share their “opinions and perceptions” about the past year. What the administration and attending parents got was a succession of admonishments about the university’s dismissal of students’ voices and the “radical change” that needed to occur within the university’s walls and policies.  While many parents in the audience responded with gasps and rebukes of the speakers, the Loyola News does note that “administration took the remarks graciously as the sincere reflection of responsible students’ opinions” [2]. 

Figure 3: Black students at Mundelein College demand change in the culture of their institution, skyPAPER, 1970

“The future of both cultures hangs precariously on our decision.” Black students at Mundelein spoke as one voice and presented a list of five demands to the university faculty. On May 26, 1970, they received a response at the town hall meeting in McCormick Lounge.  “We have chosen not to ignore [these demands],” responded Sr. Virginia McDermott to the “several hundred” people in attendance.  Money was pledged to assist the families and honor the memories of the two students who had been killed at Jackson State, recommendations were made to the white community at Mundelein, and university president Sr. Ann Ida Gannon promised that the administration would “move to meet the black students’ needs as quickly and as fully as possible” [3].

Figure 4: Blackacre’s editorial board reflects on the tumult of the past few years and the change it produced, Blackacre, 1975

“…the more or less calm satisfaction…” The September 25, 1975 editorial in Loyola Law School’s Blackacre speaks to the tumult that the university had experienced in the first half of the decade, and the present “contentment” felt after a year of “news and controversy.”  There had been faculty resignations, “publicity controvers[ies],” and a rift between the law school and the university about a proposed Legal Aid Clinic. However, the start of 1975 brought a year of all seats on the faculty being filled, a functional Legal Aid Clinic, and the redesign of classrooms.  The editorial attributes these changes to the “student activism of the past two years” that was “instrumental in effecting a change in the University’s position toward the law school,” as well as the new Dean Murdock [4].

Figure 5: The Loyola Phoenix’s political cartoon, titled “Castro, the archer,” Loyola Phoenix, 1982
Figure 6: Students and faculty call for the withdrawal of of military and economic aid from El Salvador, Chicago Tribune, 1990 

On March 19, 1982, the Loyola Phoenix published a political cartoon depicting Uncle Sam grabbing Central America and clenching it between his fists as Cuba’s Fidel Castro shoots arrows into his behind [5].  Later, in a continued attempt to shine a light on the United States’ military involvement in Central America, Loyola students and faculty published a full page ad in the Chicago Tribune, calling for the withdrawal of economic and military aid from El Salvador after a string of brutal killings of Jesuit-affiliates by the Salvadorian military [6].  

Figure 7: Loyola graduate students interrupt budget meeting in an attempt to negotiate with administration about pay and working conditions, Loyola Phoenix, 2018

Current examples of activism and it’s coverage in student publications is evident on October 17, 2018, as graduate students crashed a budged meeting “calling for higher wages and union recognition.”  Long a source of tension in university environments, the demands of many graduate students workers—demands that often require a set number of hours per week, in addition to grading papers, holding office hours, and attending their own classes—felt untenable to many, and they voiced these concerns.  “We are fed up,” members of the union are quoted in the Loyola Phoenix as saying.  To date, they have not been able to negotiate with the university, as Loyola representatives have expressed that graduate student workers are “students in every sense of the word” [7]. 

Like most Jesuit-affiliated institutions, the student bodies of Loyola University and the former Mundelein College have a deep sense of the importance of social justice and the power of political activism.  We look forward to seeing their ongoing commitment to social change and the reporting on it through their myriad student publications.

-Ericka Christie