Loyola University Chicago

Department of History


Meet four students who helped bring upcoming LUMA exhibition to life

At first glance, it would seem that these four Loyola students have little in common.

One spent countless hours in the library stacks to track down some of the University’s first books. Another developed an audio tour about the drawings and paintings of a 19th century Jesuit priest. The third worked on a virtual library system for scholars to access from around the world. And the fourth used his military experience to create a modern map of a Belgian missionary’s journey across the Midwest. 

But despite their different interests and backgrounds, the four do share some common ground: Their work was vital to the “Crossings and Dwellings” exhibition that runs from July 19 to October 19 at LUMA.

Here, the students discuss their projects, what they learned, and why at least one of them felt like a modern-day Indiana Jones.

(Photo by Myles Ostrowski.

Sarah Muenzer

Majors: History, classical civilizations (Class of 2014)
Uncovered hidden histories of library books from St. Ignatius College, the precursor of Loyola University Chicago

Talk a little about the project you worked on: what it is, how you got involved, and what you learned.

• Read Muenzer’s blog to learn more about her work.
• Visit the website of the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project.
• See images of historical books on the JLPP Flickr site.

The Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project was mentioned by a professor of mine, and I immediately took an interest. Essentially, I tried to locate any of the surviving library books from the St. Ignatius College collection, and I then uploaded pictures to Flickr to show ownership and provenance. I was taken by the idea of discovering a forgotten library, in a somewhat unrealistic, Indiana Jones kind of way. While I didn’t get to shout that these books belonged in a museum, I did get to see first-hand how real historical treasures can slip through the cracks when an institution modernizes its systems.

Was there something you discovered in your research that made you say, “Wow. That’s really amazing”?

The most amazing find over the course of my internship was a particular volume called “History of the Popes.” While the text of the book itself seemed relatively dull, the inscription in the flyleaf was from a Union soldier who had looted the book from a reverend in Fairfax, Va., in 1861. It was a huge rush to hold this unassuming-looking book in my own two hands.

What do you hope that non-academics will take away from the “Crossings and Dwellings” exhibition?

I hope they will be able to see this exhibition and understand that finds of historical significance can be discovered in the most unlikely places. The material and textual remains of a society are invaluable for studying the past, and the Jesuit tradition of academic excellence and curiosity helps us preserve and expand that understanding.

And finally, what do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?

I hope to have finished or be close to finishing an advanced degree in economic history. My interest in the field slowly grew throughout my academic career at Loyola. I realized that I can truly thrive in the world of academia, and I hope to spend as much of my life as possible immersed in the study of early America in an economic context.

(Photo by Myles Ostrowski.

Liam Brew

Major: History (Class of 2014; now working on his master’s degree)
Developed an audio tour for “Crossings and Dwellings” about the artwork of Jesuit missionary Nicolas Point, S.J.

Talk a little about the project you worked on: what it is, how you got involved, and what you learned.

• Read Brew’s blog to learn more about his work.
• Listen to the audio tour he created for the exhibition.
• See samples of Point’s drawings and paintings.

I worked mostly on a project about the artwork of Nicholas Point, a Jesuit priest from the 19th century. We received about 120 of his drawings, and I helped catalog and organize the artwork for the “Crossings and Dwellings” exhibition at LUMA this summer. I also wrote and recorded an audio tour for that part of the exhibition, and I later provided additional research for some of the other artifacts.

Was there something you discovered in your research that made you say, “Wow. That’s really amazing”?

During my research, I delved head-first into Point's experiences along the frontier and learned quite a bit about his everyday life while in the Rocky Mountains. Simply seeing the intricate detail of Point’s drawings, and how he illustrated frontier life, was constantly amazing.

What do you hope that non-academics will take away from the “Crossings and Dwellings” exhibition?

Before I started this project, I didn’t know much about Jesuit history. Through my research, however, I was able to gain an appreciation for what Jesuits did in Illinois, the Rockies, and throughout the American frontier. I hope that visitors to the exhibition will learn more about the Jesuits and all that they accomplished in America in the 19th century.

And finally, what do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?

I hope to have completed my PhD and be working in academia. Although my major field is modern Europe, I am increasingly interested in post-Soviet central Asian history. Given the relatively recent scholarly interest in this region, I hope to add to the burgeoning scholarship and use the experience I gained during this past year to educate the public about this new and exciting field. 

(Photo by Myles Ostrowski.

Jess Hagen

Master’s degree in public history (Class of 2014)
Helped build a virtual library system based on Loyola University Chicago’s first library catalogue, which dates from roughly 1875

Talk a little about the project you worked on: what it is, how you got involved, and what you learned.

I began working on the Jesuit Libraries Project through a fellowship program from Loyola’s Graduate School in 2013. The project involved creating a virtual library system based on Loyola’s first library catalogue, which is from roughly 1875. It has around 5,000 titles and more than 8,000 volumes, and it’s divided into six divisions: theology, literature, history, philosophy, pantology, and legislation. The goal of the project was to make the catalogue accessible for research and analysis.

Was there something you discovered in your research that made you say, “Wow. That’s really amazing”?

When examining the data for the catalogue as a whole, I discovered that the majority of the books were from the 1840s to the 1870s, and that they were published mostly in New York, Paris, London, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, and Brussels. Which raises several questions: Why, for example, was there such a heavy influx of books printed in the latter half of the 19th century? How come so many were printed in many of the same locations? And how do these books fit in with a Jesuit university’s educational goals and vision?

And finally, what do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?

I’d love to be an archivist at a university. I enjoy working for institutions that serve the public, and I had a great experience both as the graduate assistant in Loyola’s University Archives and studying in the archives at Texas Christian University, where I earned my undergraduate degree. Being able to work with students and in a setting where I can pursue my passion for archives and history would be fantastic. 

(Photo by Myles Ostrowski.

Ed Englestad

Major: History (Class of 2013)
Created a modern map of the journey Father Pierre-Jean De Smet, S.J., took through the Midwest in the 1840s

Read Englestad’s blog to learn more about his work.

There are certain skill sets that are usually listed on an internship application: research experience, communication skills, and the ability to work with others.

Loyola student Ed Englestad had a far less typical one: “extensive military cartography experience.”

Englestad, who graduated in 2013 with a degree in history, spent nine years on active duty in the Marines, including a six-month deployment to Iraq in 2007 as a Military Intelligence Chief for a Marine Wing Support Squadron Unit.

“You have to understand the topography,” said Englestad, who studied the Iraqi terrain to keep troops informed and prepared. “We had to be experts at maps, because they are the backbone of what we do.”

This experience, combined with a passion for history, led Englestad to an internship with professor Stephen Schloesser, S.J., of Loyola’s history department. Schloesser, a scholar of Jesuit history, is deeply involved in the “Crossings and Dwellings” exhibition at LUMA as well as the fall conference commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Jesuit Restoration.

Schloesser’s goal was to map the letters of Pierre-Jean De Smet, S.J., a Belgian missionary and the first Jesuit to establish missions in the Midwest in the 1840s. The project expanded, however, when Schloesser realized just what Englestad could do. Englestad went on to create a modern map of De Smet’s entire journey across the Midwest, which covers more than 4,000 miles.

“By using digital technology and mapping platforms, I was able to create the same kind of product that I would create for a commanding officer, but here in academia,” Englestad said.

This modern map, based on De Smet’s hand-drawn and impressively accurate original maps, was complicated by several factors. For example, the names of many locations in the area have changed—often several times—and, in many cases, the land itself has evolved since De Smet’s journeys. But it was nothing Englestad couldn’t overcome.

“I looked for major things, like curves in rivers—that stuff isn’t going to change over a hundred years,” he said. “By looking for major evidence like that, I was able to look at today’s maps and figure out where these places now exist.” 

De Smet supervised the establishment of the first five Catholic missions in the Midwest. Engelstad hopes that his map—which will be featured at the “Crossings and Dwellings” exhibition—serves as a testament to De Smet’s accomplishments.

“We wanted to show that this guy was able to traverse mountains and rivers on horseback and on foot with thousands of pounds of supplies,” he said.

The above story, written by student reporter Tanner Walters, originally appeared in the Spring 2013 edition of Loyola magazine.