Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Welcome to Doheny, 1962

Picture courtesy of the Carondelet Center Archives. Used with permission.
WE SPOTTED THIS PHOTO on the "Archives" page of the December, 2011, edition of Designs, published by the CSJ province in L.A. (Vol. 28, No. 10, p. 19). Sister Patricia Rose Shanahan, CSJ, the province archivist, was kind enough to send us a copy for the Doheny 50th anniversary celebration.

The seven CSJs have posed on the marble verandah of the Doheny Mansion. We're thinking that this is a formal portrait of the inaugural Associate of Arts faculty on the Downtown Campus, as it was known then. That would date this picture to the opening of the Associate of Arts program in the fall of 1962.

First schedule, with hand-lettered cover, 
for the two campuses, Fall 1962.
A quick look at the class schedule confirms that these are some, but not all, of Doheny's first religious faculty, along with the Mount's then-president, Sister Rebecca Doan (third from left).

Sisters from left to right with the courses they taught are: Mary Williams (Language & Literature, Journalism), Regina Clare Salazar (Educational Measurement in the teaching credential program), Rebecca Doan, Raymond Mary Braun, (Typewriting, Shorthand and Business Math), Eloise Therese Mescall (Spanish and French conversation; she was also the inaugural director of the Downtown Campus), Mary Irene Flanagan (Apparel Construction and Personal Appearance, Food Management for Homemakers, Child Study and Family Relations), and Mary Helen Pettid (History of the United States).

There were, of course, many other religious and lay faculty members teaching almost 80 classes and labs, with eight faculty covering 26 classes in the Music Department alone. Other offerings were in Art, Secretarial Science, Economics, English, Health and Physical Education, Home Economics, Modern Languages, Philosophy, Psychology and Theology. Classes ran from 8:10 a.m. into the evening and all day Saturdays. A parallel "Sister Formation" program was offered for religious teaching in Downtown parish schools.

On the day it opened, September 12, 1962, Doheny was a very busy place.

Friday, July 20, 2012

This just in ... Collections online!

LAURIE GEMMILL at Lyrasis notified us today that the first collections for digitization are already online at the Internet Archive. That was fast! We just send the last shipment a couple weeks ago. There are a few hundred yearbooks, catalogs and lit. journals already with plenty more to come.

Here is the link: http://bit.ly/NPO3st.

Check out this interesting hand-drawn map from the Bulletin for 1941.

It's so exciting to see these familiar tangible items in their shiny new digital form. So crisp! So clear! We'll be doing a formal announcement for Homecoming in a couple of months, but blog readers get a sneak preview. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

More Stimson

Doheny students boarding in Stimson House.
WE NOTED IN AN EARLIER POST that Stimson House/Infant of Prague Convent served as a dorm for students on the Doheny Campus at various times since the Downtown Campus (as it was known) opened in the fall of 1962. Here's a group of students in 1969. 

The beautifully carved hand rail and balusters visible at left is typical of the whole mansion. This was taken on one of the upper floors in a landing and sitting-room area.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Guillotine guilt

Tight binding, no gutter. Won't work.
WE'VE RECEIVED THE GOOD NEWS that the Lyrasis Mass Digitization scanning work is proceeding  fast, fast, fast. Tucked into the message about the completion of the first shipment (Inter-Nos), though, was the unhappy news that binders 1, 4, 7 and 8 of The View are too tightly bound to scan successfully. In the example above, the folio disappears into the binding, obscuring the date. Text and photos disappear the same way, meaning the articles are digitally incomplete.

Yes, they're called guillotines. The
modern models aren't much different. 
In our instructions to the scanners, we included a note that it was okay to "disbind" the newspapers "if unavoidable." The judgment is between preserving the bound volumes or digitizing the contents. The binding has served an invaluable preservation purpose up to this moment, making sure that these fragile, brittle newsprint pages have remained intact over the decades. Removing the binding will shorten their life.

But it's a tradeoff, to be sure. Having digital access to the newspapers means that there will be zero need to handle the fragile originals. Every turn of an old page is one step closer to the whole thing snapping off (see the "double fold" test). So, in that sense, we're risking the papers to preserve them.

It's not so simple, though. Digital files have yet to prove that they will enjoy anything close to the longevity even of old newsprint. We have more confidence in the 1945 newsprint than the 2012 JPEG.

We have no intention of discarding the disbound newspapers. Our friends at Kater-Krafts can create nice custom-made boxes for loose sheets. Then we can hope that The View and its successors will be around for whatever comes next... for surely JPEGs won't be the last word in digital access.

And by the way -- happy Bastille Day tomorrow!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A famous face

International Meeting on Catholic Higher Education, April 1989 (?). 
L'Osservatore Romano photo.
PREPARING A FEW FILES FOR DIGITIZATION, we came across this otherwise dull photograph showing a lot of very bored-looking cardinals, priests and others listening to something or someone.

The future Pope B16.
We knew we'd find Sister Magdalen Coughlin, CSJ, president of the Mount 1976-89, because this print was in a box of her papers. But before I could pick her out in the fourth row (tweed jacket and big glasses), there was this other familiar face in the the crowd -- front row, third from left.

His name nowadays is His Holiness Benedict XVI, pontifex maximus -- Pope Benedict, or B16 to the rest of us. In this photo from the late 1980s he was Cardinal Josef Ratzinger. He seems to be paying pretty close attention.

This box contains Sister's notes and documents from her participation (and leadership) in high-level meetings in Rome during the 1980s about the nature of Catholic higher education. A new Digital Humanities class in the M.A. program next year will undertake to study and transcribe some of the documents along with Sister's handwritten notes from various meetings.

It's an exciting project with some "big" church names. The outcome -- two years after Sister's untimely death at age 64 in 1994 -- was Ex Corde Ecclesiae, a so-called apostolic constitution promulgated by Benedict's immediate predecessor, John Paul II, to "define and refine" Catholicism in higher education. Ex Corde is a bit of important history, and we know that the Mount's own president had a significant role. We'll find out more in the semesters ahead.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Stimson House and the Mount

AFTER OUR TOUR the other day, Sister Judy Peters, CSJ, loaned us a precious record of occupancy of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in their Infant of Prague Convent, known to the public as Stimson House.

The photographic prints, included together in a spiral-bound booklet, are the work of famed architectural photographer Maynard Parker. They show the transformation of the mansion into a convent, with a new chapel and dining room with tables set for a crowd. The rooms don't evidence any sign of occupancy yet (even by the meticulous sisters), so perhaps the photos were taken to record the changes on the eve of the CSJs moving in.

The full album is available on our Facebook site. Take a look!

Stimson House/Infant of Prague has also served as a dormitory for Doheny Students, in the late 1960s and again in the early 1990s. Among the Parker photos is a room that matches up with one of our dorm photographs, including the bed frames. Those lucky students! 

A dormitory room for a pair of CSJs in 1948 ...

... is home to two fortunate Mount students almost fifty years later.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Magnificent Stimson

The Infant of Prague Convent (Stimson House),
owned by the L.A. Province of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 
(V. McCargar photos)
WE HAD THE RARE PRIVILEGE last week of visiting Stimson House, a towering monument of early Los Angeles and since 1948 the home of some of the CSJs of L.A.

Even better, we were in the company of a trio of historians: Don Sloper, author of Los Angeles' Chester Place; Greg Fischer, a Downtown News columnist and former city planning official, and Jeffrey Malin, a business associate and friend of Greg's.

Rare pyramid-beveled glass
in the front door.
Visits to Stimson House (or the Infant of Prague Convent, as the CSJs refer to it) are rare because it is, after all, a private home. The five resident Sisters work in the downtown area, including Sister Judy Peters, principal of St. Vincent's School next door. The Sisters were kind enough to let us in for a look because Greg and Jeff are wrapping up a book about downtown building use, including the exquisite Douglas Building at Third and Spring, which was built by Thomas Douglas Stimson. Don, who helps organize the Doheny Docents, has seen the house a couple of times and came prepared with a history tour.

Stimson was a lumber baron from back East who is remembered as one of Los Angeles' foremost early developers. When he built his own home on fashionable Figueroa Street, he spared no expense nor architectural detail. The house, with its multicolored stone exterior and lush interior woodwork, would not be out of place in Chicago. A crenelated turret, on the other hand, is a little more alien in this city. But the overall effect is absolutely stunning, and that's just the outside.

Foyer woodwork. The whole house
looks like this.
The CSJs in Los Angeles received the deed to the house in 1948. According to USC and Mount legend, Countess Estelle Doheny was fed up with the antics of the USC architectural fraternity that occupied the historic home. (A section of parquetry flooring in the foyer was damaged by a pogo stick.) She purchased it out from under the frat boys and gave it to the Sisters. At one time there were a couple dozen nuns in residence, and in the early 1990s Stimson House/Infant of Prague served as a dormitory for Doheny Campus students.

The home has been beautifully maintained by the CSJs, who had extensive work done in the 1990s under the direction of Sister Jill Napier, CSJ. One of the many unusual features of the home is the graceful woodwork in the servants' quarters -- something wealthy homeowners typically didn't bother with. 

Sister Judy told me that she and the other occupants are aware that they are living in a national treasure. "We know this is special," she said. "We're thankful every day that we get to live here." 

We're thankful, too, that Mount St. Mary's College has such wonderful neighbors. If you'd like to see a few more pictures from our visit to Stimson House, consider connecting with us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/MSMCArchives.

The wraparound porch on the southeast corner of the first floor. 
Even the glass is curved. (V. McCargar photo)