Thursday, June 21, 2018

Before Athena, there was ... the goat

Circa 1950, the mountain goat served as MSMU's mascot. We have one
in the Archives thanks to Sister Rose Adrian Peukert, CSJ '54.
WELCOME ATHENIANS! A large sign on the proscenium in front of Mary Chapel today welcomes our incoming students to Chalon for Orientation and the start of Fall 2018 two months from now. (Yikes!)

In another era, the sign might have said, "Welcome Mountain Goats." All we can say is, thank goodness that mascot didn't stick!
1956: The collective name for Mount
teams and students alike was Mountie.
Colleges and universities with big sports programs usually have well-known mascots, like the Bruin or Tommy Trojan. For a very long time at the Mount, decades, there was no mascot.  The university (then a college) fielded plenty of competitive tennis teams, runners and swimmers, even equestrians, but Mount students collectively were known simply as "the Mounties," a name that stuck until the late 1960s.

For a few years in the early 1950s, there was a genuine cute and fuzzy mascot. One arrived in the archives in person the other day, a little stuffed animal of faded purple wool felt, with floppy ears and horns and MSMC appliqu├ęd in orangey-gold on both sides.

The mascot was donated to us by Sister Rose Adrian Peukert, CSJ, '54.  She was a Mountie herself for three years until entering the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in 1951. With that time frame, we consulted our yearbooks and newspapers to see if there were any mentions of stuffed goats.

Our friendly Mountie Goat inspects an art
book in the Porch at Chalon library.
According to the 1950 and 1951 yearbooks, the Women's Recreation Assn., a campus athletic club, was responsible for selling athletic gear in the bookstore. The yearbooks mention the "W.R.A. store -- goats, sweatshirts, tennis balls..."  That must be our mascot.

When you think about it, the Mountie Goat was an obvious choice of mascot for the intrepid women who had to make the climb from the bus stop on Sunset Boulevard to the college, back in the days when regular shuttles didn't exist and few students had their own cars.

Beyond the 1950s, the little Mountie Goat didn’t catch on. Once the Doheny Campus became part of the MSMU in 1962, the mountain-oriented mascot didn't work for everyone. In the 1980s, when the Mount started promoting competitive sports, Athena was finally adopted as mascot. The Greek embodiment of bold, intelligent woman truly captured the spirit of the school.

On the other hand, mountain goats are known to have that special grit we call {Unstoppable}, and this little critter is pretty cute. Think about mountain goats and our Mountie Goat next time you have to hike from Chalon Road up to the Circle.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Book find : More quack tracking

One remedy, primarily alcoholic, promises to relieve seizures.
WE ARE WEEDING some out-of-date nursing and medical books, an otherwise dispiriting task that is occasionally saved by the fun find.

Nostrums and Quackery, Vol. II landed on our desk for review this week, giving this blog another installment in the long-running (and ongoing!) story of medical fakery.

Death of a diabetic who was
treating himself with a patent medicine
made by the John J. Fulton Co. of
San Francisco.
Nostrums, published in 1921 by the American Medial Assn., dates from the Golden age of patent medicines and dubious remedies. In the early years of the 20th Century, with its promises of scientific breakthroughs, alarmed physicians found their patients had stopped heeding their advice and instead were placing their trust in hucksters. Promising to cure everything from tuberculosis to nicotine addiction, patent medicines could be purchased from street vendors, reputable pharmacies, through the mail and from prestigious-sounding medical "institutes."

The AMA collected hundreds of reports in three volumes, reproducing some of the advertisements and providing verbatim accounts from the doctors. As evidence, several doctors included death certificates for patients who had succumbed to disease despite the claims of whatever quack cure they were ingesting.

Wine of Cardui came to the attention of the federal Office of Indian Affairs.
The label gradually changes as false claims are eliminated.
Preying on the sick and suffering, patent medicine salesmen also targeted vulnerable groups like Native Americans. Concerned teachers at an Indian School in Arizona wrote to the U.S. government  about something called Wine of Cardui that was suddenly flooding the reservation. It was advertised, with testimonials, as a "women's tonic" for relief of menopausal symptoms, prolapsed uteruses, decreased libido and menstrual cramps. Like most of these remedies, the main and only effective ingredient was pure alcohol.

For an AMA medical text, Nostrums and Quackery is highly entertaining, with plenty of detail and outraged comments from doctors, patients, victims and the local newspapers. Browse it below, or stop by Special Collections at Chalon to enjoy the real thing.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Book find : Quack tracking

Alma Levant Hayden, shown in her lab at the National Institutes of
Health. She later worked for the FDA. (NIH photo.)
WOMEN SCIENTISTS WERE A RARITY in the middle of the last century. We were happy to run across an interesting article in the Washington Post from last summer about Alma Levant Hayden, a researcher in the 1950s and 1960s for the Food and Drug Administration. She was a rarity in a number of ways in the world of federal scientists back then : a woman and an African American in the rarefied world of cancer research. And it leads us to some scientific women at MSMU in the 1940s and 1950s doing the same thing.

The Post article is here.

An old book on our library bookshelves turned up last week called 'Krebiozen' : The Great Cancer Mystery and we thought we'd find out what we could about it. Google led us to Hayden, who is known for having unmasked in 1963 this cancer "cure" that despite its developers' credentials proved to be a much more mundane substance. The 1955 book tells the story of a scientific debate that led to congressional hearings, Wall Street investigations and, ultimately, which brought down a university president.

Strangely, the book has a place in Mount history, which circles us back to pioneering women scientists.

MSMC's Cancer Department students in 1949, from left:
Mildred Lerch, Clara Wong, Estelle Zehngebot, Barbara
Golen, Kathleen Regan, Pauline Chang, Dolores Bowler
and Virginia Debley. (MSMU Archives photo.)
In the late 1940s and early 1950s the Mount was home to a groundbreaking research department dedicated to the study of cancer, which was becoming a national priority. Not just unusual because all the students were women (and diverse), the Cancer Department was considered at the time to be the first in the world. You can read about the department's work here.

Furthermore, the Mount had already made history in the 1940s by graduating highly trained women lab technicians at a time of a serious shortage of expertise caused by World War II.  So sought after were the Mount's science graduates that the federal government allowed scarce building materials to be deployed to construct St. Joseph Hall in 1944, because it would expand the number of science labs and thus the number of graduates.

We love how one little book can evoke an interesting era in the history of scientific research and women in science. It's a chance, too, to remember their unsung role in the 75-year (and counting) battle against what remains a dreaded disease.