Loyola University Chicago

Women and Leadership Archives


The ISHRAB Historical Preservation Grant: Mundelein College Paper Records Project

In 2016, the Illinois State Historical Records Advisory Board (ISHRAB) awarded the WLA with a $5,000 Historical Preservation Grant. With funding provided through the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), National Archives and Records Administration, these grants support institutions with projects that will lead to enhanced online access to historical records. The Grant partially funded the Mundelein College Paper Records Project. Project Archivist Caroline Giannakopoulos, along with graduate assistant Angela Rothman and other WLA graduate assistants, undertook the task of processing the Mundelein College records. 

This project was completed in 2018. Along with improving the housing of materials for better preservation, the project resulted in a new finding aid, now available online. The finding aid makes it easy for researchers to see the wealth of information that this collection provides and find what will be helpful to their research.

Project Journal

Updates and reflections written by the project archivist

May 2018

Finally, the Mundelein College Paper Records Project is complete! The new finding aid, a guide to the collection to assist researchers, is now available on the Search the Collections page of our website. The records, which once resided in filing cabinets, are now safely housed in new archival folders and 348 archival boxes. Oversized folded materials that were discovered along the way are now unfolded and safely stored in our flat file cabinet or oversized boxes. The WLA was even able to install new shelving specifically to hold this collection. 

shelves archival reading room collection ISHRAB

Mundelein College records boxes on new shelving in the WLA Reading Room.

The new arrangement and description of the Mundelein records have already been useful for the WLA team and researchers. As the project archivist for this endeavor, I am grateful for the time I spent with this collection and what I learned from the women at Mundelein and the documents that reveal their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Although we have all learned a lot, there is so much more to discover in the collection! I am so excited to see how researchers use the Mundelein Records to better understand the past. 

March 2018

Graduate Assistant Angela, who has been working on the Mundelein College Paper Records Project over the past year, wrote about her experiences on the WLA Blog.

Visit the WLA Blog to read her post, Mundelein College Remembers Them: Alumnae Files in the Archives

December 2017

This project has required examining almost every folder of the Mundelein College records and reading many, many pages to figure out where it fit into the organization and how it can be labeled. This process has led to many discoveries and a better understanding of Mundelein College. All this new knowledge can now be put to good use as I work on writing the description sections of the finding aid. The section called “Administrative History” includes a brief history of the college. In a few paragraphs, I’m trying to include the significant aspects of Mundelein’s founding and growth. I’ll be sure to include the names of some of the BVMs who shaped the college, like Mother Isabella Kane, Sister Justitia Coffey, and Sister Ann Ida Gannon. I’ll also mention the turning points such as new buildings and programs, including the Weekend College in Residence. 

Under “Scope and Content”, the finding aid will include descriptions of the types of materials included in the collection as a whole and in each series. I’ve taken notes throughout processing to help me remember what kinds of records and the date ranges in each section. I’ll also note what is not included. For instance, the WLA does not have student grades and transcripts, and some Mundelein materials are in other collections. This info will all be detailed here to help researchers. 

July 2017 

In my last update, I mentioned that the records had been organized into series. Since then, the WLA team and I have continued to refine the arrangement of the boxes within each series and think about how each section will be named and described. One section that took some discussion was the records of each of Mundelein’s academic departments and programs. Along with traditional departments like History and Math, Mundelein created many unique programs throughout the years to respond to student needs and cultural shifts. Sometimes, we have found a folder or two that has left more questions than answers about what the program was and how it fit in to the Mundelein structure. Who was leading these programs? What other departments or instituitions were involved? Mundelein’s collaborative and experimental approach often makes it hard to understand without some digging! 

Mundelein even had an office for a time called “Special Programs” which seems to have handled academic events such as summer workshops and other programs that we are trying to learn about. Our goal is not to know everything, but to understand enough to organize and describe the records. I can’t wait for a researcher to come read about the Insitute in Creation-Centered Spirituality and tell us what it was all about! 

Meanwhile, the WLA’s amazing graduate students continue to chip away at replacing and labeling thousands of folders. We’ve decided to replace all folders, which requires someone to handwrite a label for each one with the folder title and date range. There is still a lot to get through, but seeing the neat new folders shows us that we are making good progress! 

February 6, 2017

The Mundelein College Records are gradually being moved into new archival boxes.

The papers of the Mundelein College Collection have been pulled from their file cabinets and now sit in boxes covering almost every surface of the WLA reading room. The papers have been examined and reorganized, and grouped into series. Currently, I continue to go through files and work on description and other parts of the finding aid. Meanwhile, one of the WLA graduate assistants, Kate, is going through each file to address preservation issues and put the papers into new archival folders.

This vital step in processing assures the long-term safety of the documents. Kate removes rusty staples and paper clips that dent and potentially rip papers. She examines damaged or delicate materials that may need to be housed differently. She unfolds folded documents and puts them in larger boxes when necessary.

Folded oversize documents are an important issue that we are solving with this project. We have found many land surveys, building blueprints, large data sheets, and other documents folded into folders. These folds put strain on the fibers of documents and would eventually lead to rips. Putting these large documents in housing where they can fit lying flat will make these fascinating records last longer.

‌Landscaping plans, a Red Cross Volunteer club certificate, and a sketch of a residence hall social room décor are just a few of the large records that will be put in flat storage.

When Kate has completed the refoldering and preservation, I will put the folders into their final order and type the names of the folders into the finding aid. This will be one of the final tasks in processing the collection!

Stay tuned to as we get closer and closer to the final stages of this project!

December 13, 2016

It is hard to believe that we are nearing the halfway mark for this project. My Christmas wish this year is to make a lot of progress in the physical arrangement of the collection before the New Year. I am continuing my journey through the files, carefully examining the contents and grouping files into series.

Part of processing a collection is determining its scope and the purpose it may serve for researchers. In the past few weeks, the project team has often encountered items in the collection that made us question whether they belonged. Some items may be interesting and have historic value, but they do not fit into the rest of the collection. Items that do not directly relate to Mundelein College and that can be found in other repositories will be removed from the collection, making it easier to access and interpret the relevant materials.

For instance, we found a newspaper from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and various programs and souvenirs from the 1933 Century of Progress World’s Fair. The 1893 fair seems to have no relationship to Mundelein College, especially as the fair occurred almost 40 years before the school opened. This newspaper will be removed from the collection and will likely find a new home in another archives that holds items related to the Columbian Exposition. There, it will be more useful to researchers interested in the fair.

‌The 124 year old newspaper found in the Mundelein Records is very delicate and broken where it was folded.

These colorful booklets were found in the Mundelein Records.

For the 1933 fair, we came across an article in the Skyscraper, Mundelein’s student newspaper, mentioning that students from Mundelein’s International Relations Club worked at a Peace booth in the Social Science building, under the direction of Jane Addams. The items from the Century of Progress fair may have been saved by these students, as well as other Mundelein students and faculty who likely went to experience the splendor of the event. In this case, one of the fair booklets will be kept in the Mundelein Records as evidence of the students’ participation. The others will find homes in repositories that have a collection devoted to the 1933 fair.

The exploration of these items helped us learn more about Mundelein's place in the history of Chicago. It is a great example of the many topics that researchers can examine in the collection. Stay tuned to learn more about the process of improving access to these records!


November 9, 2016

We are about 3 weeks into the ISHRAB grant project. The first few weeks, I spent my time preparing to process the almost 150 linear feet of paper records in the Mundelein College Collection. After lots of research and brainstorming, I established a game plan for gaining intellectual control of the collection and making it useful for researchers.

‌The Mundelein College Records are currently housed in file cabinets in the WLA reading room. By the end of the project, the files will be in archival boxes on new shelves.

‌After drafting a processing plan, which I am currently refining with the help of the rest of the WLA staff, I began exploring the files in earnest. With my first pass, I am becoming more familiar with the contents of the collection and organizing the papers into general series. After only a few days, I have already found some fascinating items in the collection.

Processing the records involves examining the files and creating a useful system of organization.

The collection includes many records from the planning and creation of Mundelein College, showing the deep involvement of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVMs) throughout the process.