Monday, August 27, 2012

Digital payoff time

Student body officers 1946-47.
From 1947 yearbook, page 14.

Statement of first issue, page 9.
WE GOT A REQUEST from our colleague Faraah Mullings for information about the first yearbook at the Mount. Faraah is director of Student Activities and Commuter Services and also moderator of the yearbook staff. She wanted to provide some historic background for the new yearbook team about their distinguished predecessors and the 65 years of annuals they produced.

Digitization payoff time! The student editors can now see the yearbooks online, including the very first in 1947. Here's the link:

We spent a couple days last week with our volunteer Mary M. Ugianskis poring over yearbook metadata and making sure each edition was properly digitized. It's great to see that kind of time investment pay off so immediately.

Lest we forget, the Archives also has all the hard copies. It's a phenomenon of digitization that the results often spur a lot of interest in seeing and handling the originals. Faraah sent out a few students last week to find the Archives (first floor, Coe Library), and once they were here they promised they'd be back.

Student sketch of Brady Hall on page 25. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Doheny logos then and now

THE SLIDE TROVE mentioned in yesterday's post turned out to be copies of pictures assembled for the 30th Anniversary of the Doheny Campus celebrated in 1992. Among the treasures was the logo from 20 years ago (in pink). We've placed it next to the 50th Anniversary version above.  Both feature line drawings of the Doheny mansion.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Treasure chest

A classic American design: the slide carousel.
Photo by Vicky McCargar.

THIS OBJECT, BOYS AND GIRLS, IS A SLIDE CAROUSEL. Just being able to identify it dates us as well into middle age. It is full of slides -- rich, colorful, jewel-like little windows of light. About the Doheny Campus!

Our director of public relations, Debbie Ream, handed this off to the archives last week with a skeptical look, as if to say, "Do you really need any more old slides?" But we Lone Arrangers are loath to say no to pictures, so we "accessioned" them, in the jargon.

Boy, oh, boy -- what a timely find. The original Eastman Kodak Co. box is intact. The slides represent a big range of dates between the 1920s and 1980s, but all appear to be historic shots pertaining to Doheny -- faculty like Sisters Pancratius Cremins and Aline Marie Gerber; students in fashionable 1970s twinsets, and best of all, lots of photos of the Doheny Mansion and grounds in the olden days, including the Doheny family's ornate old greenhouse (torn down around 1960 or so). There are about 75 slides in all.

Our colleagues a couple of hills over at the Skirball Cultural Center have kindly offered the services of their slide scanner and a volunteer to operate it. We'll post some of the images here and over on our Facebook site, (And if you're there, please give us a Like!)

Monday, August 20, 2012

A prayer for students

Downtown students pray in what is now the Gillin Conference Room. 
The 'stained glass' is painted onto the black and white print.
GAILE KRAUSE OF OUR WONDERFUL Campus Ministry team sent out a thoughtful meditation for  the start of the 2012-2013 academic year:
O God, in your wisdom and love,you surround us with the mysteries of the universe. Look upon us all -- always students, always teachers -- and help us enjoy our learning and take delight in new discoveries. Help us to persevere in our studies and desire to learn all things well. May you walk with us this year, and enlighten our hearts and our minds. Amen.
Prayer is what made Mount St. Mary's College: the CSJs' prayers for funding and resources to open a new college on a bare, chaparral-covered hilltop; prayers for safety and deliverance from the Bel Air Fire in 1961; prayers of thanksgiving for benefactors, prayers for students and their families and loved ones. 

We thought an appropriate picture for today's blog would be another marking the Doheny Campus' 50th Anniversary. Three young ladies -- in the required chapel veils of the day -- kneel on prie dieux in what appears to be a chapel with stained glass. The photo was taken in the early 1960s.

A not-very-close look reveals that the "stained glass" was painted in by a newspaper artist, who also altered the rounded shape of the upper part of the window to make it look "Gothic." The photo was evidently published, but it's not known in which newspaper. (Mount events were frequently publicized in the Los Angeles Times, Herald-Examiner and The Tidings.)

The untouched window identifies the room as what is now known as the Gillin Conference Room in No. 10 Chester Place. In the first years of the Downtown Campus, a chapel where students and faculty could attend Mass or stop by to pray was every bit as important as classrooms or a dining hall (as was, indeed, the case in the early days at Chalon). The makeshift chapel sufficed for more than 20 years, until Mercy Chapel was dedicated in 1984.

While chapel veils have gone the way of daily Mass on campus, prayer still makes the Mount go. Our two chapels, Mary and Mercy, often have a student occupant or two in quiet reflection between classes -- more during finals week.

Visitors often remark that the Mount campuses have a special "feeling." It's our opinion that they're picking up on the prayer vibe.
O God, may you walk with us this year, and enlighten our hearts and our minds. Amen.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Marble halls of the academe

Sr. Mary Helen Pettid, CSJ, teaches a U.S. government class in
the Pompeian Room of the Doheny Mansion, 1962.
STATELY BUILDINGS ARE, FRANKLY, A DIME A DOZEN even on utilitarian college campuses. But there is stately, and then there is spectacular.

Yesterday (Aug. 16) was the Convocation of the College, and high on the agenda was marking the 50th Anniversary of the Doheny Campus. Our colleagues in Student Affairs put together a slideshow of historic photos -- many from the College Archives -- pairing a shot from 1962 with the same view today.

The photo that got the most oohs and ahhs was the one above, which shows some of the inaugural class of Downtown Campus coeds crammed into the Pompeian Room in the Doheny Mansion. Amid the Moorish-Gothic Roman-Tiffany fantasy in marble is a prosaic blackboard and bubble-hairdo'd students on folding chairs. The lecture is on the drafting of the U.S. Constitution.

In her book The Doheny Mansion: a Biography of a Home, Mary Ann Bonino '61 PhD describes the room thus:
...perhaps the most spectacular room in Los Angeles -- a breathtaking spectacle of gold, marble and colored glass, accented with bursts of Pompeian Red. A triumph of Beaux-Arts splendor, the Pompeian Room is a Mediterranean vision built in Los Angeles, the Rome of the American West.
The Pompeian Room was not original to the Doheny Mansion, built by the Posey family in 1899 and purchased by Edward L. and Estelle Doheny in 1901. It replaced a patio and was inspired by a lavish hotel ballroom the Dohenys visited in Chicago. It hosted many a prominent businessman, foreign dignitary or church official among the Doheny coterie, who dined on a mirrored table beneath the famous gold glass dome.

Sr. Mary Helen and Downtown Campus
students survey their ornate new classroom.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet were less interested in their spectacular new surroundings than they were in getting the Downtown Campus up and running quickly in the fall of 1962. The Pompeian wasn't the only grand salon to see the sudden influx of desks and blackboards -- classes were also held in Nos. 7 and 10, and No. 2 served as the library.

It's not known how long classes continued in the Pompeian Room, but one of the first additions to the Doheny Campus was the Classroom Building in 1965. That would suggest that students met in these rooms for at least three years before moving into modern quarters.

One has to wonder what a distraction that golden dome would have presented, at least for the first few class meetings. Did students get stiff necks staring at the ceiling?

One of the reasons for the oohs and aahs at Convocation, perhaps, is the Pompeian Room's current holy-of-holies status; most Mount students will graduate without ever seeing it. That is, unless they catch it in a movie like The Princess Diaries or one of the many films and TV shows that have been shot on location there.

Next month after the annual Mass of the Holy Spirit, the Doheny celebration will continue with tours of the Doheny Mansion. We're hoping lots of students will take advantage of them and get a firsthand look at their Pompeian treasure. And they won't be distracted by a U.S. government lecture.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Digital frustration

PRESERVATION STUDENTS and others are often surprised to find that we archive mostly on paper, even digital stuff. It's the least expensive, simplest solution for the Mount. It will take a college-wide commitment to the kind of technology infrastructure that can handle formal digital archives, and right now that doesn't exist.

Screen capture of PDF.
The college has a fascinating series of public lectures lined up for this academic year, Women in China. Most of the information about it is strictly what's on the college website. It is possible to create a PDF of a website to a specified number of layers of hyperlinks, so we pointed Acrobat Pro at the URL and watched the screen merrily processing all the bits and bytes. The results (top image) looked pretty good.

Scanned laser print of PDF.
Good, until we printed it out. For reasons known only to our web designers, Adobe (makers of Acrobat) and Hewlett-Packard (makers of our laser printer), many of the letters were replaced with rectangles. (bottom image).

Yes, yes, we know that there are workarounds and that it's possible to include these website PDFs in our growing photo archives online.

The problem is time. For "lone arrangers" like us, the time it takes to normalize, tag, catalog, upload and quality-check a PDF in a repository takes about 10 times longer than hitting the "print" button and placing the results in an acid-free folder. And we don't have to worry about backup, migration, or bit rot with our paper document.

We'll go digital eventually, but for now it's yet another exercise in frustration. At least the email promoting the lectures has been looking fine on paper.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ireland calling

A HISTORIAN FROM DUNMANWAY in southern Ireland, Michelle O’Mahony O’Driscoll, called the Archives today seeking information about the U.S.-born nephew of a famous Dunmanway denizen. Such denizen, we were told, is called a "Doheny," which in Ireland is pronounced "Doh'ny" or "Donny." Dunmanway has a lot of them, naturally, including the Gaelic-rules football club, the Dohenys.

Back in the mid-19th Century, a hero of the Young Irelander nationalist uprising, Michael Doheny, fled to New York and remained in the United States. He died in 1863.

His American nephew was none other than Edward L. Doheny, Sr., Los Angeles oil tycoon and philanthropist.

According to Ms. O'Driscoll, the newly formed Dunmanway Historical Association is interested in American Dohenys, and she came across the Los Angeles Dohenys on the MSMC website.  She's got her own family connection to the Mount. One of her close cousins is Sister Kathleen Mary McCarthy, a CSJ of the L.A. province.

We put Ms. O'Driscoll in touch with the Doheny Docents and wished her happy historical hunting.  She hopes to visit the Doh'ny Campus someday.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Digital travelogue, 1956

THE EXPLORATION of our newly digitized collections on the Internet Archive continues, a process that is both frustrating (owing to the limitations of search engines and problems with the metadata) and fascinating (because of what's there).

The various yearbooks, catalogs, and literary journals are readable in multiple formats, including online or downloaded for Kindle, iPad, other e-readers and generic PDF. The entry link for the Mount's collections is here: (The online collection was made possible with a donation by an alumna of the Class of 1957 and the LYRASIS Mass Digitization program under a Sloan Foundation Grant.)
Sacre Coeur in the 1950s.

The Internet Archive software
 even lets us embed a "mini-reader" in the middle of a blog. How cool is that? Here is a fun example -- "Letters from Abroad," an extensive travelogue from France and Italy in 1956, mostly by Sister Rose de Lima Lynch. Groups of CSJs from L.A. visited Paris, Le Puy and Rome and wrote back to the CSJ community, which published the letters in Inter-Nos, the all-purpose campus journal. Take a look!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Grips and grins

Sister M. Rebecca Doan, CSJ, president,
with alumna Dorothy Lieb Von der Ahe '29.

IN PHOTOJOURNALISM, THERE IS A CATEGORY of photograph called the "Grip and Grin," in which two people with broad smiles are shaking hands or passing something between them -- like a large check.
Sr. Rebecca with Alumnae
Association president.

Looking for photographs for Doheny's 50th anniversary, we noticed that Sister Rebecca Doan's picture file holds a lot of grip 'n' grins.

And no wonder. Sister, who was named Mount president in the spring of 1961, took office for academic 1961-62 -- just in time for the terrible Bel Air Fire of November 6, 1961, and the launch of a new Associate of Arts program at the newly acquired Downtown Campus planned for academic 1962-63. In other words, she was president during a very costly time in Mount history.

Faced with rebuilding much of burned-out Chalon and preparing to take students into a handful of frankly decrepit Victorian mansions on Chester Place, Sister undertook an unprecedented fundraising campaign, launched in the spring of 1962. 
Sr. Rebecca with A.C.
Pearce of Sears Roebuck.

It was known as the SPACE Program, echoing the excitement of the new Space Age and Mercury astronauts, but standing for Scholastic and Physical Advancement Centered on Excellence. With a goal of an astonishing $10 million ($75 million today, adjusted for inflation), SPACE designated $5 million for scholarships and other academic priorities, and an equal amount for construction on both campuses.

Fifty years ago this summer, the money was starting to come in. The kickoff donation was $25,000 from the Vons Foundation, led by Mount alumna Dorothy Lieb Von der Ahe '29. The $25,000 check is the equivalent of almost $190,000 today.

Companies, individuals and campus organizations contributed, including the Alumnae Association, Mothers' Guild, Gulf Oil, Crown Zellerbach, and Sears Roebuck. At the end of the summer of 1962, Sister Rebecca had collected nearly half a million dollars with a long fundraising road ahead.

The archives don't have records of the final accounting of the SPACE Program, but some of the immediate results can be seen today: the Humanities Building at Chalon and the Classroom building at Doheny, both constructed in 1964 and 1965. By then, Sister Rebecca and the College had a lot to grin about.

Sr. Rebecca with unidentified donors. The architectural model in front of them  shows
the proposed Humanities Building and the existing Chalon Library.