Wednesday, December 23, 2015

An {Unstoppable} CSJ Christmas

Religious faculty celebrates Christmas in Brady Hall, 1961.
At right learning on an elbow is Sr. Aline Marie Gerber.
EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY. One tiny image in our "Sisters in Traditional Habits" file shows the Mount's Sisters enjoying each other's company in Brady Hall.

At first glance, it's a not-very-interesting Christmas snapshot. But if you know some Mount history, there's a story behind the setting: the old Lecture Hall, now Brady Lounge.

According to the back of the photo the year is 1961. Scores of holiday greeting cards are pinned to the stage curtain in the shape of a row of Christmas trees. A real tree, off to the right, is festooned with tinsel and more cards. What appears to be a pile of newly unwrapped presents -- mostly books -- is beneath the tree.

Christmas, 1961: Just six weeks before this photo was taken, the notorious Bel Air Fire swept through Brentwood Heights, damaging or destroying about a fifth of the Chalon Campus and doing serious damage at Carondelet Center. Burned to the ground, with everything in it, was the Faculty Residence (Rossiter Hall). Mercifully, no one was hurt, but many of the Sisters lost all they had.

But soon it would be time for the holidays! Although the campus was still grimy with smoke and the air reeked of burned wood, we can be sure Christmas would proceed as planned in a new location.

Other details are only hinted at in this 54-year-old picture. Were there more cards than usual that Christmas? Were the donations tucked inside extra-generous after the fire? Did that load of new books under the tree replace some of the faculty's lost teaching materials? We can be fairly sure the answer to all of those questions is yes.

After the party, the Sisters would scatter to their temporary homes -- other CSJ convents, hospitals, or the Mount's dorms where they would spend the next year. There was a new semester to prepare for, and reconstruction on damaged buildings was already under way. Funds had to be raised for new buildings. The Mount and the CSJs' community life had to keep moving forward, fire or no fire. 

But Christmas in 1961, as it is in 2015, was a special time at the Mount. For an afternoon, at least, our {Unstoppable} Sisters could relax and enjoy some Christmas cheer in familiar, if makeshift, surroundings.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas poem, 1939

A Mount student's block print graces The Queen's Page
cover in the December, 1939, issue.
THE MOUNT IS BLESSED to have in Special Collections a beautiful volume in red leather with The Queen's Page, 1937-1941, stamped in gold. It's a compilation of the quarterly literary magazine of the Sodality Union, an organization of Catholic high school and college students in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles dedicated to honoring the Mother of God.

For Christmas, we thought we'd share a poem by Mount senior Peggy Mahoney '39, a regular contributor to the Queen's Page and the Mount's own literary quarterly Inter-Nos. It appeared on page 8 of the December 1938 issue, and we like it because it evokes a cold, starlit night in the pitch-dark heights of Brentwood.

Broad hills that raise black breasts
To midnight skies
And watch while man and child and
Lapping waters sleep–
Caught in the craggy chambers of
Your heart, you keep the secret
That lies locked in Virgin Eyes.
Jet sky, poise low your velvet heart
And bide the perfect hour when 
The chorus thrums the golden joy afar,
And angel feet will bruise each burning star, 
And Christ will lie on straw, at Bethlehem.
Detail of Corlett's print
A year later, Wanda May Corlett '42 of the Mount provided the woodblock print that graces the cover of the Queen's Page for December 1939. City Hall looms over La Placita Church near Olvera Street. Almost hidden at the bottom is the newborn Jesus in his manger. To us, it speaks clearly that the Mount is engaged deeply in the world around it.

This Christmas season, may Our Lady of the Mount continue to bless her daughters and sons at the university named for her, in the city that bears her name. Pray for us, Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Genealogical secrets

The last chapter of the Gospel of Mark and beginning of  Luke in Dutch.
This is a guest blog by MSMU Archives Asst. Nancy L. Steinmann, MLIS. Nancy has been working on a project to prepare some of  MSMU's oldest books for formal cataloging. 
A HIDDEN TREASURE surfaced in the Mount Archives last week during some routine assessment of special collections volumes. The rare 1878 Bible in Dutch revealed family genealogical information written on the flyleaves and on inserted loose leaves in the volume.

The entries for the families DeGries and Hoverleden document births and deaths ranging from 1843 to 1940. Few clues for the origin of the Bible exist except for a small note tucked inside the leaves saying that it was donated by “Sister St. Michael.” She later went by Sr. Michael Flaherty, CSJ, of the Los Angeles Province of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 86.

The Bible was in a very poor state of preservation, with the pages crumbling due to natural acids (lignin) in the wood-pulp paper. While rare, it had little monetary value due to its condition. However, the family information preserved in the context of the volume provides priceless evidence for genealogical research. But first it must be made available to potential users.

In accordance with our deaccession policy, the MSMU Archives searched for a repository with similar materials to house the volume. A centralized national repository would allow the materials and their historic information to be easily located. The National Genealogical Society (NGS) in Arlington, Va., happily responded.

Organized in 1903, the NGS exists to provide education and training to the genealogical community, promoting access to and preservation of genealogical records. The organization will scan the family information and add the names to their extensive database of Bible records The volume itself will be stored in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Library in Washington, D.C., with the rest of the NGS Bible collection.

In its new home, this rare Bible will add to the growing treasure of genealogical information available to online users, connecting families to their past, and preserving the gracious donation of Sister St. Michael for future generations.

For further information about these genealogical resources, please see:

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgivings at the Mount

MOUNT STUDENTS HAVE long been a grateful bunch, and the Thanksgiving holiday has always been a major milestone in the academic calendar. Browsing the Mount's literary journals and newspapers of the past 90 years reveals some endearing stories, prayers, poetry and opinions devoted to the annual feast and counting of blessings.

Ann Hall '48.
An echo from almost 70 years ago, barely two years after the end of World War II, still resonates today:
This Thanksgiving the word "vacation" on the college calendar and the sight of the pumpkin and turkey orders on the grocery list tell us that Thanksgiving time is here... We think of the many gifts for which we must remember to give thanks ... for the comforts so many are in need of today... for the one-day cessation of wind that came on the day of the Sepulveda fire... for all the times we prayed and [God] said "Yes" ... for the times we asked "if it's for the best" and [God] said "No" ... and thanks that all the people who said last Thanksgiving, "Another year and we'll be at war again" were wrong.  (Ann Hall '48 in the November, 1947, View)
Shirley Burke '54.
A possibly homesick alumna studying in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1956 writes back to her modern languages professor Sr. Aline Marie Gerber, CSJ:
 On Thanksgiving Day the Swiss-American Society gave a party for all the American students at one of the local hotels. Each of us was invited to dinner at the home of one of our professors. I received an invitation from my major professor. I hadn't known him too well before, and I was usually terrified by him in class. However, I found him meek as a lamb at home. Now we're good friends. (Shirley Joan Burke '54 in the June, 1956, Inter-Nos.) 
Closer to home, a student in 1975 advises her peers not to gripe so much about cafeteria food in a paragraph titled "A Thanksgiving":
It seems as if it has always been a tradition among student living in college dorms to gripe about the food. But I don't really feel that anyone is justified in complaining about food here at the Mount. Granted, there may be times when the London Broil is under- or overdone, but some college food services would never consider serving steak.... With Thanksgiving here, I think that it is important for everyone to realize just how fortunate we are. Some people are not so lucky. (J.C., November, 1975, View)
In the fitness-minded 1990s, students were thankful for the opportunity to lose a few pounds after the holiday. Camille Maldonado '96 (?) , writing in the December, 1995, Oracle, mentions the Monday-After-Thanksgiving "Turkey Trot," which draws 25 students and staff who opt to exercise off some of the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.

Sister Ignatia Cordis, CSJ.
The astonishing historical tidbit that the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet raised turkeys comes to us from Helen McCarter, writing when the Mount was lodged at St. Mary's Academy.  Her short article "Gobblers Start for College Girls" in the November, 1929, Inter-Nos describes a drawing class during which the professor, Sister Ignatia Cordis, CSJ (1887-1986), threw a fit because none of her students knew what the head of a turkey looked like. Apparently they were familiar only with the headless, roasted kind and produced drawings of "buffalo heads, mustaches, drooping eyelashes, etc." Not deterred, Sister took the class over to research the community's turkey pen, after which students completed their assignment.

Finally, we are personally thankful for "E.E." writing in the View in November, 1962. "This year," she opines, "it seems especially fitting that we include the library in our thanksgiving."  Yes, indeed, there is much to give thanks for at MSMU.

Classic musing on an all-American holiday tradition, View, November 1946..
Would you like to browse the journals, newspapers, and yearbooks? Just click here and start reading.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Lighting the holidays

The Circle is lit and cookies and hot cocoa await. (2013)
IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS on our two beautiful campi. With the end of the semester looming, there won't be time later to create and enjoy the holiday environment, so even as we're looking forward next week to turkey and pumpkin pie, the Associated Student Body is putting the finishing touches on Christmas wonderland at Chalon and Doheny.

Circle fountain in ribbons and bows.
Tonight is the traditional Lighting of the Circle at Chalon. Everything from the hedges to the fountain is festooned with little white lights, ribbons and ornaments, ready for the the Flipping of the Switch at 6 p.m. sharp. (Our heroic electrician Haig Papelian has been wiring up for days.) The Campus Ministry Band will be accompanying carols, Santa Claus will put in an appearance, and ASB will be ready with hot chocolate and cookies.

Over at Doheny, the celebration is tomorrow, with more cocoa and cookies and a Christmas-themed photo booth. Theannual Christmas Magic at the Mansion will be celebrated after Thanksgiving, a party for all the staff and faculty of MSMU. The already amazing Doheny Mansion is even more exquisite in its Christmas finery. Here's a preview.

Doheny Mansion at sunset with Christmas lights aglow.
We recently unearthed a Christmas tradition from yesteryear at MSMU. There's an undated, un-labeled photo of students in pajamas, bathrobes and topcoats trooping down the Grand Staircase at Chalon. They're carrying candles and everyone's mouth is open. From there we got as far as guessing "Christmas caroling," but didn't know the context until we tripped over it in the 1960 yearbook.

Mystery photo at last explained. 
The caption explained what was going on.
 Warmly dressed and lighted candles in hand, the resident students begin their traditional custom of Christmas caroling to the Sisters. The girls walk from the Mount campus down to the House of Studies [now Carondelet Center], where they exchange songs with novices and postulants. Hot chocolate and doughnuts are served when they return.
(Those CSJ novices and postulants would be about the same age as the Mount students, and some of them might even be classmates and friends.)

Here's to  90 years of Christmas traditions at Mount Saint Mary's University. May these coming hectic days of shopping, cooking, and preparation all be merry and bright.  

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Doheny books go home to No. 8

Ned Doheny's bookplate showing No. 8, the "Ranch"
in Beverly Hills, the oil well
Casiana and the family
yacht of the same name.
ESTELLE DOHENY WAS A WORLD-CLASS collector of rare books, something that may have rubbed off on her stepson, Edward L. “Ned” Doheny Jr. (1893-1929).

Ned left behind a run of collectibles printed by the Bibliophile Society that occupied a dozen feet of bookshelf in the Doheny Mansion, from the family’s first years there to Estelle Doheny’s death on October 30, 1958. In early 1959 they came to the Mount libraries’ Archives & Special Collections.

But now after months of planning they’re back in their original home of 100 years ago. To accommodate an influx of historic books in the Chalon Library, the decision was made to use Estelle’s glass-fronted bookshelves in her personal library at No. 8 Chester Place as a permanent place of honor for this collection of Doheniana.

The Boston-based Bibliophile Society was a sort of book-of-the-month club for well-to-do readers. Classics and new titles were issued in limited press runs of letterpress on handmade linen- or cotton-rag paper. The spines are almost all vellum with embossed gold, the various bindings made of leather, paper or cloth. Inside each cover is Ned’s personal bookplate, which depicts four of his five children and vignettes from the family’s history – including No. 8 itself, Edward Doheny Sr.’s first oil well and the Dohenys’ yacht, both called “Casiana.”

Estelle Doheny added her own bookplates opposite Ned's.
After Ned’s tragic death in 1929 the books remained with Estelle, who placed two of her own ex libris (from the library) plates opposite Ned’s. When the Mansion became a convent for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet shortly after Estelle's death at the age of 83, the books were given to the Mount's Charles Willard Coe Memorial Library. And there they remained for the next 56 years.

The relocation project wouldn't have happened without our excellent library volunteers Dianne Plou Schautschick ’65, Emily Deutsch Keller ’66 and Vivian Santibáñez, who did all the packing up at Chalon and shelving at Doheny. H/T to Mary Uganskis for her numerous rounds of inventorying and to Samantha Silver and Terri Fresquez of the library staff for quickly re-cataloging 139 volumes. It’s gratifying to see Ned’s books restored to their historic home.

Emily and Vivian critiquing the final arrangement.
(iPhone 6 photo by Dianne Schautschick)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sisterhood in the archives

Sister archivists from the CSJ Provinces in front of the Charles Willard
Coe Memorial Library on the Chalon Campus.
WE WERE PRIVILEGED on Wednesday to host seven VIPs from our venerable profession – the province archivists of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

The CSJs are facing the same issue as many, if not most, religious orders in the United States: dwindling numbers. The post-World War II years saw a tremendous run-up in vocations to religious life and monasteries and convents bursting at the seams. That phenomenon is now viewed as a "blip," and these days things have returned to something more normal.

This presents a challenge for the current members, though, in the form of large facilities and fewer people to take care of them. (See Carondelet Center, below, home of the Los Angeles Province. There are about 325 CSJ sisters in the province today.)

Many religious orders are consolidating operations in their larger facilities, including archives. Archives are possessed of a couple important features: They're bulky, they cost money to maintain and sustain, and they're irreplaceable.

The archivists of the provinces of Los Angeles, Albany, St. Paul, St. Louis, and Hawaii (a vice-province) are meeting at Carondelet Center this week to discuss the logistics of consolidating their physical archives, a topic that has been front and center for the archivists for the last few years. Already the archives of the Congregation headquarters in St. Louis (what used to be known as the motherhouse) have been consolidated with provincial archives at Avila University in Kansas City, KN. Hawaii is preparing to transfer its archives to Los Angeles.

In a situation like this, the subject of digitizing the CSJ Archives is bound to come up. We can say without exaggeration that the combined collections of the CSJs comprise a historic resource of national importance. Religious sisters were a vital, and often overlooked, resource in the founding of the United States. Their schools and hospitals were frequently the first such facilities in the new territories. The provincial archives hold priceless communications and records that tell these stories, and they don't end with the settlement of the frontier. Scholars will be studying the history of religious orders for decades – centuries – to come.

Digitization offers the promise of broad access, but it comes with a host of problems of its own. It seems like a no-brainer solution on the surface, but digitized archives demand money, stable management and continuity that virtually all institutions will be hard-pressed to provide when one considers the availability of the data in 100 or 200 or 500 years.

It made for some lively conversation among this sisterhood of archivists, the CSJs with their 365-year history and we Mount folks with our 90. We at MSMU have some experience with mass digitization to offer them, and are proud to be asked for our counsel.

Archivists are colleagues in this business of history, but for the Mount Archives, helping to usher the CSJ Archives into the future is a privilege and a solemn responsibility. What better way for us to demonstrate "the Spirit of the Founders," one of the key components of the University's strategic plan? The brains, good cheer and enthusiasm of our sister archivists are beyond inspirational – their mission is our mission.

Once referred to as the House of Studies, Carondelet Center was
built in 1955 to house and educate hundreds of young CSJs. Above to the
right is the Chalon Campus.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Signs of the times

No. 5. Masons build the foundation for the permanent sign that
will announce Mount Saint Mary's University.
COMING AND GOING FROM CHALON this last week of summer vacation, we've watched a new entrance sign gradually take shape By our count, the new one will be sign No. 5 since 1932. Here's a pictorial look back on how we welcomed visitors to the Mount from Chalon Road.

No. 1. The rustic 1932 edition that became a beehive.

The first sign was erected in 1932 over the entrance road (still technically known on maps as the Mount Saint Mary's Fire Road). Made of redwood, it stood for almost 25 years until a colony of honeybees took up residence in one of the hollow uprights.

Incidentally, the entrance road was unpaved in the early 1930s and subject to frequent washouts in torrential rains that occasionally hit the mountains, like the tropical storm that landed in early October of 1932. The road was eventually paved with funds donated by Countess Estelle Doheny.

No. 2. Added in 1956, this is fork in the road that marks the routes
to the Mount and the newly finished CSJ House of Studies.
In 1955, amid an explosion in religious vocations, the Los Angeles Province of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet built what is now known as Carondelet Center. The House of Studies was essentially a junior college for hundreds of young sisters, who received some coursework and all of their religious formation to complement what they were getting as Mount students up the hill. The new sign went up at what was now a fork in the entrance road.

The single sign became two at some later time, possibly in the 1980s when the Mount and CSJ Los Angeles Province subdivided ownership the Chalon property into two separate parcels, the College and Carondelet Center.

That sign was covered over with a new temporary plastic edition in January of this year when the Mount announced formal university status.

Nos. 3 and 4. A temporary sign covers the 1980s MSMC
sign and heralds university status as of January 1, 2015.
The entering Class of 2019 will be welcomed with the new, official university sign, But more to the point, it will remain a sign for everyone who climbs our mountain in Brentwood of our 90 years of {Unstoppable} history.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

MSMU's Olympian spirit

Olympian menu planning: Asst. Business Manager
Sister Rosanne Bromham, CSJ, confers with Marlin
Rosheim, Doheny food service manager, and Ata
Shafiyoon, director of food services for MSMC.
AS LOS ANGELES HOSTS the Special Olympics World Games this summer, the Mount has been rolling out the welcome mat at both campuses for delegates, dignitaries and judges from all over the globe.

The university's Olympian history stretches back more than 30 years, to the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles. Back then, too, the Mount opened its doors, dining halls and dorms -- including the newly built McIntyre Hall -- to Olympics support staff for two full months. AT&T, which provided telecommunications services during the Games, occupied all of the Doheny dorms and about a quarter of Chalon's. They also reserved the ground floor of the Doheny Mansion for entertaining and events.

The remaining space at Chalon housed "[Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee] contract and/or Games staff and/or sports officials and technicians, but not competitors," according to material in the Archives. In other words, pretty much a little bit of everybody but the athletes. 

Olympic athlete Clarita Neher shakes hands
with XXIII Olympiad mascot Sam the Eagle
at Siena Day at Doheny, April 25, 1984.
The Spring 1984 edition of Mount Magazine  reports that the housing contract with AT&T and the local organizing committee provided much-needed funding that went into the Mount's Endowment Fund and toward major construction projects on both campuses.

Logistics aside, the Mount joined with all of Los Angeles in celebrating the XXIII Olympiad. In the weeks before the Games, the annual Siena Day event on April 25, 1984, took on an Olympic theme with special guests Jack Smith, a popular Los Angeles Times columnist, and Clarita Neher, who competed as a high diver in the 1924 and 1928 Olympics.

Mount event coordinator Kathy
Janeski pins a "Play" button on
Times columnist Jack Smith.
Sam the Eagle, the mascot of the Los Angeles Games, came along for the festivities. Neher and Smith spoke to an overflow audience at Doheny on the topic "Play: as Humor, as Sport."

For the Games themselves, 14 students and alumnae from the prestigious Mount Singers were selected to sing in the Olympic Honor Chorus, which performed at both opening and closing ceremonies and sang the national anthem for the arrival of President Ronald Reagan.

The Olympics are special, whether it's the traditional Summer and Winter Games or the Special Olympics. We're proud that Mount's welcoming spirit has taken on an Olympian spirit, and we wish continuing success to all the participants in this summer's events. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Students and patriotism, 1930

Agnes Donnelly, Rosemarie Arena, Miss Weiling (faculty), Elizabeth Francis, 
Miss Gaines (faculty), Nance Graves, Catherine Kelly, Marion Kennedy.

THE 1930 EDITION OF LIGHTNING, the yearbook of St. Mary's Academy, includes a stirring essay addressed to the "Youth of America" to embrace the ideals of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America as enshrined in the Constitution.

St. Mary's Academy, founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in 1888, is the "mother school" of Mount Saint Mary's University. From its start in 1925 until Brady Hall was built in 1930, the new Mount St. Mary's College "lived" at St. Mary's Academy, and most or all of the inaugural MSMC class of 1929 had attended SMA for high school and even elementary school.

Here's an extract of the essay, written by senior Marion Kennedy. It could have been written today.
The United States today is confronted with many serious and complicated problems. Revolutionary doctrines are destroying established order. Injustice exists, political reforms are needed.
On the eve of the Great Depression, it's remarkable that 17- or 18-year-old Marion was very much aware of the economic threat to the country. Even more, she recognized the importance of thinking like a leader. (Note: the gendered language is original):
Let it be our endeavor, O Youth of America, to emulate the selfless men who devoted their lives to the betterment of mankind. If unselfish devotion to the principles of the American Constitution wholly grips the youth of today we shall develop the spirit with which our Leaders of tomorrow will be fired, bringing genius and power to solve the great industrial and economic problems of the future.
To read the whole essay, please visit the page on our Internet Archive repository at

On this Fourth of July weekend, we're impressed and a bit awed by the careful argument wrought by young Marion in her essay. Equally impressive is her vision of leadership and call to personal involvement in the issues of the day.

In other words, {MSMUnstoppable}!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Anticipating the podcast, 1964

OUR TECHNICAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT is going to be moving to new quarters soon, and the array and volume of weird stuff coming out of storage is a joy for the Lone Arranger to behold.

Delivered along with a bunch of beautifully crafted stamping machines, tacking irons, electric erasers and a dozen IBM Selectric typewriter balls was a 1960s aqua-and-white Amfile Platter-Pak(tm) for toting "phonograph records" for girls on the go. (Its size and weight reminds us of why we love our iPhones.)

The tote at first appeared to be full of nothing more than a couple dozen crumbling cardboard dividers labeled with titles on various religious subjects. We were just about to toss it on the recycling heap when something told us to dig around. Holy moly! It's a good thing we checked, because buried among the dividers were 10 actual LPs.

The Conference-a-Month Club sent out more than
500,000 LPs and tapes in the 1960s.
With a little research, we've decided this is quite a find.  For one thing, we could only find one library in the U.S. or Europe that holds even a single LP from this series, let alone 10. A university archives somewhere reports having two. There were originally hundreds.

The LPs are a remnant of the Conference-of-the-Month Club, the brainchild of a media-savvy Carmelite priest named Ronald F. Gray. Among his other accomplishments, he had hosted a popular radio show in the 1950s dramatizing episodes from the life of Blessed Matt Talbot, an Irish saint-to-be who overcame alcoholism and is an inspiration to millions.

Father Gray attended the Second Vatican Council starting in 1962 and apparently hit on the idea of marketing and distributing hour-long talks -- conferences -- on topics that would be of interest to women religious. Religious life was in for major changes as a result of Vatican II, so he had a ready market. 

Many of the conferences were recorded in Rome while Vatican II (which ran through 1965) was going on; Gray had access to many of the church luminaries assembled for the Council, so he brought them into the studio to talk about everything from biblical theology to the future of celibacy. 

According to an online obituary for Father Gray in 2003 and some old newspaper clippings, during CMC's run in the 1960s, more than 4,000 religious communities in the English-speaking world subscribed to the monthly LPs or tapes, and over its lifetime more than half a million recordings were sent out on 400-plus topics. It strikes us that he was anticipating the podcast by about 50 years, but his numbers dwarf even the most popular podcast today. 

Our own CSJs apparently made the collection available to Sisters at the Mount or down the hill at the House of Studies, because there are the remains of library check-out slips on some of the LP sleeves. The records document a time of profound change in both the Catholic Church and the lives of women religious, and they're in pristine condition. Given their apparent rarity we're happy to hang on to them for future generations. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Mount's WWII Veterans

Undated list (ca. mid-1940s) of Mount alumnae in military
or civilian service during World War II.

WE CAME ACROSS AN INTERESTING DOCUMENT in the Alumnae Association archives the other day that, in spite of its age, is remarkably timely.

It is a list of 18 Mount alumnae who served in World War II. Although (typically) there is no date on the yellowed typescript, the sheet is titled "In the Service of Our Country: World War II." One of the women graduated in 1944, so perhaps the list was drawn up not long afterwards, that is, before any of the Class of '45 enlisted.

These 20- and 30-something Mounties served in the medical field (Army and Navy corps and Red Cross) and women's branches of the Army Air Corps (WACs) and Navy (WAVES.)

As the world marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II (May 8 for the war in Europe and September 2 for the war with Japan) we can honor our {Unstoppable} Mount veterans for stepping up to serve their country -- both our current veterans and those who served in a bygone era. We bless you for your service.

The Mount's World War II heroes:
  • Gertrude Boland '36, WAVES
  • Mary Olive Bunce '36, WAC
  • Helen Coogan '41, WAVES
  • Gertrude Feenan '39, WAVES
  • Beatrice Genevra '41, WAVES
  • Irene Groehler '37, WAVES
  • Christine Huse '44, Army Medical Corps
  • Margaret Donovan Kelly '37, WAVES
  • Ethel Kristofek '39, WAVES
  • Mary McDevett '33, American Red Cross
  • Margaret McGuirk '44, Navy Nursing Corps
  • Jacqueline Moffatt '39, WAVES
  • Mary Shannon '43, WAVES
  • Elizabeth Sheridan '39, Army Nursing Corps
  • Helen Shubert '32, American Red Cross
  • Shirley Timewell '34, Army Nursing Corps
  • Frances Williams '40, Army Medical Corps

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Toga! Toga!

The Mount's serious Latin club, circa 1942. For a toga party,
it doesn't look like anyone is having much fun.
IN THIS LAST WEEK of the 2014-2015 academic year, Mount students are too busy studying and worrying about finals next week to throw toga parties (we think so, anyway).

The photo above is a group shot taken in the early 1940s (?) in Brady Hall, but this isn't your mom and dad's Animal House toga party. Instead of dorm sheets, these Mounties are wearing formal senatorial togas, probably trimmed in purple, and four are in gowns that wealthy Roman matrons would wear.

The solemn faces may be due to the fact that this is Taedifer, the Mount's Classical Language Club. If you have trouble imagining a social club for girls studying Latin and Greek, think again. Two full years of Latin were required of every Mount student doing lower-division work (freshmen and sophomores), and if you were studying what was called Classics, you'd be reading Greek, too. In fact, Latin was offered as a major through the 1960s. After that, interest dwindled.

Here's an excerpt from Inter-Nos in 1934 when the group was formed that gives us an idea of what their meetings were like (emphasis ours):
Its interest will center about the cultural elements, such as the discussion of Roman life, history, and customs, familiarity with which should be a part of the mental store of all students of Latin. Papers will be read and discussed at each meeting, and nothing will be left undone to create an atmosphere of ancient Rome as a background for the study of its language.
If this is what they did for fun, we wonder what they did when they were being really serious.

The information on the back of the picture says it is a "dramatic group," so they were probably putting on a play. It might well have been performed in Latin, because all of the faculty and most of the students would know at least a smattering.

We know from other evidence in the University Archives that Latin was pretty much ubiquitous at the Mount. Students wrote essays for publication in Latin and held an annual Latin festival for local high school students, conducted entirely in Latin, including the Pledge of Allegiance.
Sacramentum dicoilli vexillocivitatum foederatarum americaeet illi reipublicaequam significat,uni nationi,sub Deo,indivisibili,libertatem et justitiam praestanti omnibus.
In 1963, the Mount's first-ever basketball team made it to the statewide tournament, finishing fourth, largely on the ability to confuse opponents by calling signals in Latin.

As their sign indicates, the club was founded in 1934 and was in existence at least until the 1950s. Taedifer is Latin for torch-bearer, and the club's motto, "Latina Vivat," means Latin lives, long live Latin, or something like that.

Toga! Toga! Latina Vivat -- at least in the MSMU Libraries. The Coe and McCarthy libraries still have scores of books in the stacks printed completely in the classical tongue, remnants of the days when everybody studied it.

For lawyers, doctors, and members of choirs, Latin definitely vivat. And who knows? A little Latin might come in handy on the basketball court or soccer field.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Almost 90 Years of Going Green

Seniors host MSMU's President at a St. Patrick's Day luncheon in 2013.
ST. PATRICK'S DAY has been celebrated at the Mount for as long as there has been a Mount, the day when everybody gets to be Irish and Going Green isn't about the environment.

A clipping from March 8,
1955, announces the upcoming
St. Patrick's Day fun.
The Mount community in its early decades was still only a generation or two from the Old Country. Many of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and members of the faculty were the children and grandchildren of immigrants, and more than a few were actually born in Ireland, part of the great wave of immigration of the early 20th Century.

In the 1940s and 1950s the freshman and sophomore classes hosted an annual college-wide St. Patrick's Day party, a fundraiser for various good causes.

The day typically started at 7 a.m. with Mass in Mary Chapel (mandatory) sponsored by the Sodality of Mary, followed by a bacon-and-egg breakfast for 75 cents (about $6.50 today). Sometimes the food was dyed green, of course, and entertainment was always provided by students in the form of Irish songs and dances. Sometimes a program was put on in Hannon Theater – music, a lecture or a play.

In more recent years, students of all backgrounds celebrate "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" with buttons, banners, and more green food and beverages.

In 2013, the Senior Class kept up the tradition with a St. Patrick's Day luncheon to mark the kickoff of the Senior Gift program. The students hosted guest of honor President Ann McElaney-Johnson.

So enjoy the wearing' o' the green today, knowing we are carrying on a grand old tradition at MSMU.

Mary Chapel is full of students in academic garb for the celebration of
Mass for St. Patrick's Day on March 17, 1947. Breakfast followed.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Measles and the Mount: Some history

The Red Cross thanks the Mount for contributing to the nation's supply
of gamma globulin, a key weapon against various epidemics in the 1950s.
The View, Feb. 16, 1954.)
BEING OF A CERTAIN AGE, we remember the measles epidemics of our childhood in the years before the vaccination was developed. Make no mistake – it was an awful illness, resulting (at least) in missing days or weeks of school, lying in a darkened room (to avoid eye damage), fevers, aches, misery.

Not much rash yet, but those watery
eyes are characteristic of rubeola.
With the current – and completely avoidable – epidemic raging around Southern California, we thought we'd look through the archives for outbreaks past. Not surprisingly, the Mount was not spared, even up at remote, inaccessible Chalon in the 1950s. Most students had little brothers and sisters, so measles in those days was considered almost unavoidable.

Thanks to the long, honorable tradition of excellence in the health sciences, Mount students turned out in droves to donate to Red Cross blood drives. So when an epidemic of rubeola (sometimes known as the "hard measles") hit the United States in 1954, Mounties stepped up to help. A cartoon from The View on February 16, 1954, from the Red Cross commends the contributions of blood that went into the making of "G.G.," gamma globulin, the standard response at the time. As we recall, the G.G. shots could be quite painful, but they were thought to prevent or slow the rate of infection and acted as a shield against secondary illnesses like meningitis.

Mount victims of the
1957 epidemic.
Still, childhood diseases like measles were a fact of life in the 1950s and 1960s. A humorous notice of an outbreak appears in The View of March 20, 1957, wondering who was responsible for spreading the disease on campus. Three students are mentioned as having been infected. Presumably they packed hastily and were sent right home to wait out the two- or three-week cycle, and undoubtedly more than one classmate lined up for their G.G. shots.

In the following decade, a list in The View of memories by the Class of '67 (May 11, 1967) includes a mention of one poor student (Linda Robson) who came down with the measles the night before the annual Fleur de Lis Ball. We hope she didn't spread it around.

Measles also warrants a couple of mentions in the Mount's literary journals Inter-Nos and Westwords, where characters in short stories encounter an outbreak (Go to our repository at and type in "measles" to see a range of mentions over the years.)

The measles vaccine was introduced in 1963 and in the following years it disappears from the Mount. The current outbreak, however, has revealed the huge numbers of people who were not vaccinated as children and now at risk for exposure. Mount students are required to be vaccinated, but we can't be too careful with this nasty disease.

Our fine team of professionals at MSMU Health Services is sending out regular updates and keeping ahead of any possible problems. Tell your friends and family to get their shots and stay well!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

An {Unstoppable} Sister

Sister Mary Evelyn, center, with some of the Education faculty in 1975.
THE UNIVERSITY IS MOURNING the passing of one of its longtime faculty members, Sister Mary Evelyn Flynn, CSJ, who died January 21 at age 87. A Mount alumna, she was a professor and academic adviser for more than 30 years, mostly in the Education Department. And, typical of our CSJs, she was a lot more besides.

Sister Mary Evelyn Flynn '53 at her day job in 1978.
She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet on September 1, 1944, and earned her BA degree in English in 1951. After years in elementary education and administration at the Archdiocese level, Sister Mary Evelyn earned an M.A. in Education at the Mount and M.S. in Reading Specialization at  USC. She joined the Mount Education faculty in 1971.

But teaching was just the day job. She did double and triple duty beyond the classroom, serving as faculty moderator to different student organizations and the ASB, and as dorm "mom" – technically "floor warden" in Brady Hall in the 1970s. She accompanied students on their summer trips to Europe and volunteered for the long-running Phonathon annual fundraiser.

Students, staff and faculty showed their appreciation by naming her "outstanding adviser" more than once. She provided academic advisement in Education, English, Liberal Studies and even Nursing, and watched with pride as 30 of the Education Department's advisees received awards from the prestigious Rockefeller Bros. Fund.

She was one of the recipients of a CAPHE grant in 1988 to do research into the best methodologies for meeting the needs of the Mount's rapidly changing student demographics. Her topic was peer coaching in a highly diverse environment. (CAPHE stands for Consortium for the Advancement of Private Higher Education; the grants for diversity research were also funded by the Times Mirror Foundation.)

An earlier grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1985 enabled her to study children's literature, for which she had a special love, at the University of Connecticut.

In her spare time (did she have spare time?) she loved to read, confiding to the Oracle campus newspaper in March, 2000, that she liked
almost all children’s books. I also like mysteries and biographies…  a lot of things! But I don’t like books by authors like Stephen King.
Sister Mary Evelyn, left, with former academic dean
Father Matthew Delaney and Prof. Wanda Teays
in November, 2005.
Sister Mary Evelyn was into her 80s before she finally retired from active mission at MSMU. We offer our condolences to all her Sisters in the CSJs’ L.A. province, especially her sibling Sister Daniel Therese Flynn, CSJ ’60.  Blessings on all the {unstoppable} Sisters and what they’ve done and continue to do for the {unstoppable} Mount.

CSJ Appreciation Day at MSMU in March, 2004. Sister Mary Evelyn is
on the far right. Her sibling Sister Daniel Therese Flynn, CSJ, '60 is second
from the left in the front row.
Note: Dates for Sister's entry into the CSJs and degrees were later updated with new information from the CSJ Provincial Archives. -  Ed.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mystery man in white

The mysterious pope statue on the 5th Floor of the
Humanities Building at Chalon.
WE CONSIDER IT PART OF OUR solemn duty as archivist to seek out and reveal historic mysteries about our almost 90-year-old Mount. (Yes, we do have the best job on either campus.)

There are plenty of mysteries to go around, so for today's Throwback Thursday, we'll uncover a mysterious person who factors strongly in Mount history and the history of our founding Sisters.

We don't get up to the 5th Floor of the Humanities Building very often, where Music, Religious Studies and History have classrooms and offices.  On the couple of occasions we've been there, though, we've wondered about that life-size marble bust at the north end of the hall. Given the tassels and finery wrought in cold, white marble he's obviously a pope -- but which one, of the 260-plus men who have sat in the Chair of St. Peter?

The little plaque on the pedestal is all but unreadable, but with a little squinting and some digital photography, we are able to reveal our mystery man: Pope Pius IX,  No. 255 on the papal roster.

How did we end up with a bust of Pius IX? Was he a random choice?

Bl. Pius IX holy card.
Pius IX enjoyed one of the longest papacies in history, reigning from 1846 to 1878. On his watch, the Papal States ceased to exist as Italy became a sovereign country,  and it was Pius IX who opened the First Vatican Council, setting the stage for broad reforms almost a hundred years later at Vatican II.

But his true significance to the Mount was his relationship to the Sisters of St. Joseph. In May, 1877, Pope Pius IX gave final approval to the constitution of the fast-growing Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, establishing our founding order as a congregation of "pontifical right" and unifying various communities across the United States under a motherhouse in Carondelet, Missouri, now St. Louis. The rest is history, and the L.A. Province of the CSJs went on to found the Mount in 1925.

Okay, so we've established the connection. How did the Mount end up with a carved chunk of fine Italian marble?  Enter a famous Hollywood composer.

Film star Irene Dunne, left, with benefactor Jimmy
McHugh, Sister Rebecca Doan, CSJ, president,
and  Mrs. Rhiad Gholi of the gala committee.
Jimmy McHugh wrote more than 500 songs for some of the big vocal stars of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, including Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald. Along with film star Irene Dunne, McHugh was also honorary chairman of a big gala held by the Mount in 1964 to raise money for the new Humanities Building and other rebuilding projects in the wake of the 1961 Bel Air Fire.

The (nearly unreadable) plaque on the statue reads "Gift of Jimmy McHugh." According to the February 1, 1962, edition of the View, McHugh made the gift on January 17 of that year in ceremonies held in the library at Chalon.  When the Humanities Building was completed in 1965, the statue was moved to its current privileged position on a specially built plinth integrated into the stone composite flooring of the 5th Floor.

The statue is the work of a neoclassical Italian sculptor, Pietro Tenerani, 1789-1869, who typically carved in the pure white marble of his native Carrara. Religious subjects and famous people of the day make up the body of his works, which are held by museums all over the world. The Mount's statue, executed in 1848 near the beginning of Pius IX's pontificate, is one of several Tenerani did of this influential pope. The statue was blessed by Pius IX himself.

How many Mount students have
planted a kiss on these marble
lips in the last 50 years?
Pius XI's cause for sainthood opened in 1907, and he was beatified in 2000 by Pope John Paul II. But then again, is anything sacred where college students are concerned? If you look closely at the statue's lips, they're slightly stained a light brown, as is the nose.

We can imagine two or three generations of Mount students kissing Bl. Pius IX on the lips or tweaking his nose, perhaps for good luck before a recital or exam. That strikes us as an excellent tradition and one worthy of a historic women's university.

This coming February 7 will be Blessed Pius IX's feast day and the 137th anniversary of his death in 1878. So let's give him a kiss, or a pat on the head, or just say "thanks" for watching over for the Mount for the last 50 years.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Mount logo through the ages

The new university logo.
ON JANUARY 1, 2015, the Mount became Mount Saint Mary's University and, among other changes, retired its logo of the last 20 years. The new logo incorporates themes from some earlier symbols, which we'll explore below.

Prominent in the new logo is a shield - or is it a book?  The top of the book has pages, or are they petals of a lily?

The ambiguities are intentional, inviting us in to think and reflect. But embedded in the suggestions of images are some real symbols from the original seal of the school.

The original 1931 seal.
This "formal" logo was created by Baker Heraldic of London in 1931 and will continue to be used on official documents like diplomas. The center of the logo is a quatrefoil of four shields, each enclosing a symbol representing some aspect of the Mount's foundations: the wings of the Our Lady of the Angels Archdiocese, the fleur de lis of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet (see below), the "lily among thorns" of our namesake, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and last but not least, a book with the Mount motto, Deus Illuminatio Mea, God My Light.

At the top of the new logo is a bird, which in animated versions takes flight. Watch this:

Some people will see represented the aspirations of our students, the hopes and dreams of generations of Mount graduates taking flight. Christians will see the Holy Spirit emerging from the sacred texts.

The 1966 dove logo.
The dove is making a return to the Mount's iconography. In 1966, the college commissioned a new logo to replace the image that had been used for decades, Mary Chapel. With two campuses as of 1962, the iconic tower no longer represented the whole Mount, and so Mitsuru Kataoka of the Art Department faculty created something more inclusive.

A View article in the fall of 1966 explained the change. Note the other subtleties that sound familiar today:
This fall, the Mount adopted a new logo, replacing the long-familiar chapel tower. The logo, in the form of a bird with wings extended, symbolized the spirit of the Mount in an artistic and poetic form. Spirit immediately suggests soaring wings, unfettered, pointing upward and forward. The designer, Mr. Mitsuru Kataoka, an art faculty member, explained that one wing points toward the past with its heritage and the other sweeps to the future. The discerning eye may also recognize tongues of flame symbolizing the Spirit of the Word; another may detect elements of the fleur-de-lis, reminiscent of the French origin of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
In some versions, the College Seal was incorporated.

The first stylized M, 1993.
The next major change was the familiar script M that has prevailed until now. Originally created for the Admissions Department in 1993, the ribbon-like calligraphy in black and brown was adapted for college-wide use  in 1995.

The improved version, 2004.
The logo was overhauled in 2004 to incorporate the word "Mount" into a more direct manner; the announcement of the change noted that people often overlooked the word Mount altogether and "confused the Mount with 'that other college' in the Bay Area," (St. Mary's in Moraga). The historic college colors of purple and gold (dating to the 1920s) were incorporated into the new one.

That brings us to January, 2015 - a new name, a new logo, and exciting year ahead of rebranding the new university. And the seal is getting a face lift, too,  "college" becomes "university" and "St." is de-abbreviated to Saint.

For those of us accustomed to typing the name every day, remembering to write "Saint" instead of "St." is probably the biggest challenge of all.
Seal of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet,