The Wandering Mural

The centerpiece of Sueltenfuss Library, Jesse Treviño’s mural “La Historia Chicana,” appears as if it were created for this space overlooking the second floor. In truth, this is the mural’s third home since Treviño painted it in 1974.

Mural in Student Union Building

Students playing table tennis in the Student Union Building, 1970s

Treviño is a celebrated artist, his work revered nationally as well as throughout OLLU’s campus. “La Historia Chicana” is currently in a spot where it is protected but is viewable by anyone visiting campus. Would you believe the mural’s original location was not so protected? It started out in the building that now houses the campus bookstore, but in the 1970s it was the Student Union Building, a good spot for students to enjoy a game of table tennis or a cold beer!

In 1981, University leaders realized the art treasure needed more protection and moved it to St. Florence Library in what is now known as Walter Center.

Mural in St. Florence Library

Mural in St. Florence Library, 1980s

Of course, when Sueltenfuss Library was completed, Treviño’s mural was moved to its current position of honor. In the following 2001 Lake Currents feature, you can see Treviño supervised the installation himself.

Lake Currents February 2001

Mural relocated to Sueltenfuss Library, 2001

To learn more about artist Jesse Treviño and his connection to Our Lady of the Lake University, visit University Archives in Providence 6A or contact Archivist Anna Beyer, 210-434-6711 x2338, abeyer@lake.ollusa.edu .

For more information about artist Jesse Treviño:

History of Sueltenfuss Library — “La Historia Chicana”

Smithsonian Oral History Interview

Artist Jesse Treviño documents cultural institutions of San Antonio 

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First European Trip, 1963

Sister Elizabeth Anne Sueltenfuss, photographed on June 14, 1963, the day she left for her first trip to Europe.

Among the archived files of former OLLU President Sister Elizabeth Anne Sueltenfuss (1921-2009) are transcripts of notes she kept during nearly 30 years of travels across the world. At the time of the following trip to Europe, Sister Elizabeth Anne had just graduated with a Ph.D. in microbiology from Notre Dame and was traveling with her mother. She was 42 years old. In these three short excerpts – spanning only 10 days — you see a snippet of what Sister Elizabeth Anne experienced on her first visits to Ireland, England, and France.

June 15, 1963

It took us from 9:45 to 1 p.m. to get to Dublin – everytime I saw something I wanted to keep forever on film Father obligingly stopped the car. We had a time finding just the typical Irish homes, but when we did see what he thought I should have we took the picture. I got some good shots of Irish gypsies, milk wagons, yellow furze flowers, thatched roof houses, typical country store and adjacent waiting station. This was old Ireland – and we were soon to find a real contrast to the new Ireland growing out of Dublin.

June 21, 1963

On reaching Cambridge – the English countryside was beautifully peaceful, low and rolling – we took a bus into central Cambridge. Then took a taxi to the Department of Veterinary Medicine where we planned to visit Professor Beveridge and Muriel Rose. He was gone to the farms and she was in London taking exams. We were interested because Dr. Pollard had worked with him, and Mrs. Rose had been employed in our laboratories as a technician for some months. At any rate Marguerite McKean showed us the laboratories and we had coffee and English biscuits. Mr. Downe from there took us to the back of the Cambridge colleges – as we were getting into the car he told us that white smoke had been seen from the Vatican and that we had a new pope. But at this time we didn’t know who.

June 25, 1963

Mass at St. Medard. Went to the Louvre–closed since it was Tuesday. Surprised at the number of men at early mass and the participation of the laity in the mass prayers. A layman read the epistle and gospel in French. Walked in the Tuileries garden. Had a French lunch of raw mushrooms–everything came in courses. This was France. Rode later to St. Chapelle in the Palais de Justice. Ferme. Not our day. Jean Claude would hardly believe us when we told him these places were closed, and he was ashamed of Paris, he said. Returned to the Cathedral of Notre Dame which is beautiful exterially but a disappointment otherwise. This is its 500th anniversary. We lighted candles again to burn as our prayers for you. I bought some slides of Paris at night since I hadn’t been able to capture any of these historical on film myself. Dinner with all the Solomons at Paul’s Restaurant–typically French Bistrot! The old Solomons were delightful and we had a gay time. Veal steaks in paper. Some kind of fancy egg roll meat entree. And a delicacy of TRIPE! Tried for some French pastry but didn’t order what was suggested-Mrs. Solomon got some kind of dessert with burning brandy to show us how it was served. Mr. Solomon had ordered a big bottle of table wine which they served in a bucket of ice. He kept turning it to make it cold. Meanwhile everyone wondered how we could be having such a good time.

 

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Hop aboard the time machine

Our Lady of the Lake’s basketball team, 1911-1912.

Our Lady of the Lake’s basketball team, 1911-1912.

How different was life at the Lake 100 years ago?

The answer can be found partly in the 1912 Catalog and its descriptions of campus. For example, the Catalog touts the campus’ electricity and Artesian well-fed plumbing.

The Catalog also lists Disciplinary Regulations, including:

  • The time of recreation excepted, silence must be strictly observed, and even during the hours of recreation silence is exacted in the halls, corridors, and staircases.
  • No pupil is permitted to borrow or to lend any article of clothing.
  • Neatness of person and great care of books and clothing must be strictly observed.
  • No jewelry should be brought to the Academy, its use not being favored.
  • Particular friendships are not allowed. The pupils should cultivate an amiable disposition and a polite deportment.
  • Regular hours for sewing are allowed to each pupil, so that she may keep her wardrobe in perfect order.
  • Letters are written on Saturdays and Sundays; and communications sent or received are subject to the inspection of the Superior.

The thought of these (and many more) regulations gives me sympathy not just for the students, but for the Sisters who must have been exhausted enforcing them.

What else do we know about how the young school was growing 100 years ago? At that time, the school was an established academy for girls, but collegiate education was just beginning. The women’s liberal arts college had only been established a year earlier. In the academic year 1911-1912, Rosalie McNelly was the only college student enrolled. In 1914, Rosalie joined the Congregation of Divine Providence as Sister Presentation. The 1912-1913 Catalog lists these college-level subjects: religion, church history, philosophy, history of philosophy, English, history and social science, Latin, Greek, German, mathematics, and science. In that academic year, the freshman class had grown to three students.

For more information about the history of Our Lady of the Lake, visit the University Archives, Monday –Wednesday, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. or contact archivist Anna Beyer at x2338.

References

Catalog. (1911). San Antonio, TX: Our Lady of the Lake.

[Our Lady of the Lake basketball team] [Photograph]. (1911). San Antonio, TX:
Our Lady of the Lake University Archives.

Our Lady of the Lake University Archives. (n.d.). Happenings year by year.
Unpublished typescript, Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio, TX.

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In the Archives: A Sartorial Timeline

Photos and campus publications in the University Archives have not only captured the history of the institution – they have captured the evolution of collegiate fashions at the Lake!

1911 — Students, seen here in uniforms and “square tops”, gathered between Mass and breakfast for morning exercises.

1929 – Golfing attire.

1933 – OLL ladies in an array of fashions.1946 – Members of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine in holiday styles.

1956 – Roberta Burkholder’s dress would find more use in 21st century than her mimeograph machine.

1962 – Judy Davis and Phyllis Anderson, is it fur or faux?

(We are celebrating enduring treasures from Our Lady of the Lake University’s past throughout American Archives Month this October. Visit the Archives in Providence Hall, 6A, for a peak into history, to relive events, or to learn about the fascinating characters in OLLU’s life story. The Archives are open 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, or by appointment. Call Anna Beyer, x2338, for information.)


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From the Archives: Sister Mary Clare, in her own words

Sister Mary Clare Metz

The Archives contains a transcript of Sister Mary Clare’s oral history, dictated in about 1977 and transcribed in 1999. Her comments lend context and background to the items contained in her archive file.  Together, these items build a story of the work Sister Mary Clare did here. Though her work culminated in a ten-year term as academic dean of OLLU, Sister Mary Clare’s academic career began with the study of zoology and botany decades earlier.

Evidence of her dedicated scientific study is found in a 1934 copy of her doctoral dissertation, A Flora of Bexar County, Texas.

Sister Mary Clare spoke about her studies in her oral history. She left Texas for the Catholic University of America to study biological sciences in 1930.

“The following June I returned home to pronounce my final vows and to begin research for my doctoral dissertation. Since my major emphasis was in systematic botany I had chosen for my problem the preparation of a flora of Bexar County, Texas. The University had allowed me to do this research away from the University in Texas and my superiors had approved. Needless to say, this research involved much field work. I was allowed to do this field work with Peter Leguchick, the convent chauffeur as driver, and Sister Maurice, usually as my companion three mornings each week.”

Sister Mary Clare collected more than 1,000 plant samples, and dried them in warming ovens in the OLL kitchen. After a year of collection, she returned to Catholic University with her samples.

“Before the year had progressed very far, a fire broke out due to faulty wiring in the herbarium in McMahon Hall at Catholic University. My plant materials were stored in a wooden cabinet next to the spot where the fire began, and among other things the cabinet and all of its contents were burned.”

 

Her study, she said, was saved by the speedy shipment of duplicate samples from OLL. This “catastrophe” was followed by the relocation of her major professor, the one person at Catholic University qualified to mentor her research. Bad luck turned to good luck when he suggested she seek assistance from the National Herbarium in the Smithsonian Institute: “What started out as a catastrophe proved to be the most fruitful period of my experience in higher studies.”

These excerpts represent but one small bit of Sister Mary Clare’s 17-page transcribed oral history, covering nearly 50 years of her experience at OLL.

(We are celebrating enduring treasures from Our Lady of the Lake University’s past throughout American Archives Month this October. Visit the Archives in Providence Hall, 6A, for a peak into history, to relive events, or to learn about the fascinating characters in OLLU’s life story. The Archives are open 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, or by appointment. Call Anna Beyer, x2338, for information.)

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Discovery in the Archives: The prayerful poetry of Mother Angelique Ayers

Mother Angelique Ayers, 1954

Among the archives’ treasures are clues to the personal talents of Our Lady of the Lake founders like Mother Angelique Ayers.

Mother Angelique’s individual files in the archives contain many examples of her written work from very early in her academic career. However, some of her most tender compositions are short hand- or type-written verses. Many times, she composed verses to be printed inside Christmas cards sent out by the Sisters. Her poems are prayers or musings, sometimes sentimental, sometimes cheery, but always reverent.

Verse inside a 1953 Christmas card

Though undated, Mother Angelique may have written the following short poem on a gloomy day:

Autumn,

Do you splash

Your colors with such waste

Artist Divine must soften them

With haze?

Though not written by her, another verse in Mother Angelique’s papers sheds further light on her talents, personality, and affinity for poetry. Note the annotation “She played and sang this song.”

 (We are celebrating enduring treasures from Our Lady of the Lake University’s past throughout American Archives Month this October. Visit the Archives in Providence Hall, 6A, for a peak into history, to relive events, or to learn about the fascinating characters in OLLU’s life story. The Archives are open 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, or by appointment. Call Anna Beyer, x2338, for information.)

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Discovered in the Archives: Robert Frost visits the Lake

Among the University Archives is a single card catalog drawer holding chronological notes on events throughout the school’s history, from building projects to special guests. This week I discovered renowned poet Robert Frost spoke here on March 3, 1941. Frost is but one gem in a studded line of special visitors at OLLU.  Others have included poet Nikki Giovanni, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, and actor Edward James Olmos.

According to the file, when Frost visited, he read some of his poems and “talked to the students on education ‘from spelling up and from poetry down.’” But my favorite bit draws a picture of the Pulitzer winner’s visit to campus: “In the afternoon before the lecture he walked over the campus looking at the shrubs, trees, and flowers.”

See what Robert Frost looked like in 1941.

Read more about Robert Frost and check out his poetry.

(We are celebrating enduring treasures from Our Lady of the Lake University’s past throughout American Archives Month this October. Visit the Archives in Providence Hall, 6A, for a peak into history, to relive events, or to learn about the fascinating characters in OLLU’s life story. The Archives are open 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, or by appointment. Call Anna Beyer, x2338, for information.)

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