Tag Archives: elizabeth anne sueltenfuss

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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THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR

           Before the Colbert Report, before Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, and before Saturday Night Live, as the United States wrenched its socio-political way through the tail end of the Johnson Presidency and the start of Richard M. Nixon’s term in office, there aired a prime time comedy/variety show that grabbed the rug under this country’s status quo and gave it a firm, playful tug.  The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour wasn’t enough of a tug to cause a bone-breaking fall, but it was enough to rock its balance.

            And rock, it did.  In 1967, Tom and Dick Smothers were a couple of clean cut young men noted for their comedy/folk song stand up routines, so CBS felt safe in signing them into a slot opposite NBC’s wildly popular Western, Bonanza.  With writers such as Steve Martin, Rob Reiner and Roger Mason and top quality guests such as The Doors, The Beatles, Jefferson Airplane, Harry Nilsson, Jonathan Winters, Liberace, Judy Collins and Donovan; The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour proved to be far more popular than CBS believed it would be, and continued through the spring of 1969.

The Smothers Brothers surprised CBS in other ways too.  Back in those days, it was rare to see African American musicians perform on prime time television.  Racial segregation was enforced in the US Southern States until 1965 and the civil rights movement battled to protect people of color all through the 1960s.  Against CBS’ counsel, the Smothers Brothers repeatedly featured black artists such as the Ike and Tina Turner Review, Ray Charles, Harry Belafonte and Nancy Wilson.  The Smothers Brothers regularly challenged bigotry, closed mindedness, the Vietnam War and underfunding for education.  They passionately supported comedian Pat Paulson’s 1968 Presidential bid.

Censorship was a constant challenge for the Smothers Brothers.  As a child, I remember my family gathering in the living room to watch their comedy hour.  We would be enjoying one of David Steinberg or Pat Paulsen’s stand up performances, only to hear it interrupted by a blaring “be-e-ep.”  I’d turn to my Dad, who would roll his eyes and mutter, “Nixon” under his breath.  These comedians weren’t censored due to swearing—but due to their political and social commentary.

The Smothers Brothers, their guests and writers fought back against the CBS censors.  Roger Mason, the show’s lead writer and composer and performer of the instrumental hit Classical Gas, recited his poem The Censor on the show, sitting on a stool, cradling his guitar and pointing a pair of scissors directly at the camera.

In the monologue that led CBS to cancel the program, David Steinberg discussed the Biblical story of Jonah.  He said, “as they have been known to do from time to time, the Gentiles grabbed the Jew by the Old Testament and threw him off the boat.”  This thinly veiled double-barreled reference to male genitalia and historical persecution of the Jews during prime time was the final straw for CBS.  That episode did not air, and the Smothers Brothers show was canceled.

If you would like to see that and some of the other fine (uncensored) episodes from the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour’s third and final season, just come to the Sueltenfuss Library where you can check out the four volume DVD set, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, PN1992.8.C66 S66 2008.  You will not only be entertained, but you’ll truly taste the flavor of the 1960s.

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Women’s History Month

In commemoration of Women’s History Month, Sueltenfuss Library has dedicated a display about Sr. Elizabeth Anne Sueltenfuss. The display is located on the 2nd floor of the library. View a slideshow of Sr. Elizabeth Anne Sueltenfuss here.

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