From the Mixed-up Files of the Mundelein College Collection
The ISHRAB Historical Preservation Grant
In 2016, the Illinois State Historical Records Advisory Board (ISHRAB) awarded Historical Preservation Grants totaling $26,214. With the grants, historical records repositories develop and carry out projects that will lead to enhanced online access. This year, ISHRAB gave out six grants to Illinois institutions, including $5,000 to the WLA. The Mundelein College Paper Records Project is supported in party by an award from the Illinois State Historical Advisory Board, through funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), National Archives and Records Administration.
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.
Return to this page for future updates on this ongoing project!