Notre Dame’s Alumnae before 1972

On June 11, 1917, Notre Dame added a new demographic to its alumni base – women.  According to Scholastic, the first two women to earn degrees from Notre Dame did not go unnoticed.  During commencement, it was reported that “[t]here was an enthusiastic outburst of applause in Washington Hall when the names of Sister Francis Jerome and Sister Lucretia (Holy Cross Sisters of St. Mary’s College) were read out as recipients of the M.A. [Greek] and M.Sc. [Chemistry] degrees [respectively]” [Scholastic, September 29, 1917, page 6].  The graduation of these two women at Notre Dame was not a one-off occurrence, but rather marked the beginning of a historic tradition of coeducation at Notre Dame.  Except for the 1919 commencement, women have graduated from Notre Dame every year since 1917.

Article regarding Commencement, 1917 [Scholastic, September 29, 1917, page 6]
Further research is needed to know when Sister Francis Jerome and Sister Lucretia began their studies at Notre Dame to earn these degrees, whether any of their time was in the classroom alongside their male counterparts, or if it was mostly independent study.  In 1918, Notre Dame established the summer school program, which was the gateway for women to study at Notre Dame.

Students and faculty of the Music Department Summer School Program, July 1919. They are posed outside, in front of Rockefeller Hall and the St. Edward statue.

The history of coeducation at Notre Dame is a fascinating and complex one.  The view of Notre Dame as an all-male bastion often leaves out the story of Notre Dame’s female students who were here before their more traditional female counterparts moved in for the fall semester of 1972.  A cursory overview of the commencement programs done in the 1980s gives us a glimpse of these pre-1972 women:  324 bachelor degrees, 4128 masters degrees, 184 PhDs, and 2 law degrees.  However, these numbers only tell part of the story.

Summer School Students, including nuns, priests, brothers, and lay men and women, posed on the steps of Bond Hall, 1929.  Photo by H.C. Elmore.

Going back through the commencement programs today, we gathered more personal information on these women to help humanize them.  Many women studied at Notre Dame but did not complete their degrees.  They, unfortunately, won’t be on this list, which was created to give a flavor of who these women were.  It is for informational purposes only, not to be used as the sole source of serious research.  Please contact the Registrar to verify student information.

At the time of this posting, we still have a ways to go to complete this list, but the data gathered thus far is quite interesting.  Perhaps there are more laywomen in the mix than what people assumed.  Sisters from Saint Mary’s comprise only a fraction of the other orders represented.  Notre Dame’s female graduates follows the diversity of the general student population, with women represented from across the country and internationally, including Nova Scotia and the Philippines.  The number of multiple degrees the women earned is a bit surprising, as was discovering two triple-Domers thus far:  Sister Mary Aloysi Kerner (BA 1922; MA 1923; PhD 1930) and Sister Mary Jerome Shaughnessy (MA 1926; BA 1930; M.Mus. 1935).

Three sisters looking at books on campus with the Main Building in the background, c1950.

Hopefully these lists will help to shine more light on Notre Dame’s pioneer alumnae, as they are an important part of the Notre Dame family and history.  There are many other resources available to do further research on these women, such as University RecordsNotre Dame publications, and the alumnae directories.


Tactile Campus Map

In the spring semester of 1978, fifth-year Architecture student Leroy Courseault developed a tactile map of campus for the visually impaired.  Courseault distinguished the buildings, roads, and terrain with different types of materials with different textures, such as various grades of sandpaper, wire, and rubber.

 Dr. Stephen J. Rogers Jr. explores a textured campus map as Architecture student Leroy Courseault, who designed and constructed the map, looks on, 1978/0515

Courseault consulted on his project with Dr. Stephen J. Rogers Jr. of the General program of Liberal Studies, who was the only blind faculty member at the time.  Rogers “found that the mental picture of the campus he had developed over the years turned out to be fairly accurate.  ‘But with Leroy’s map, I learned some things I never knew before,’ he said.  ‘It’s a marvelous success as a tactile instrument'” [UDIS 211/23].

Courseault also intended to add audio effects to the map to help orientate the visually impaired.  He planned to link sounds such as the Basilica bells, ducks at the lakes, or street noise, which are unique to certain areas of campus.

The tactile map located in the Main Building.  It is unclear when it was removed.  The most recent reference to it is 1984 in the University Archives’ online finding aids.

UDIS 211/23
GPHR 22/4224


Notre Dame Summer School

Notre Dame established a summer school program in 1918 “to help Religious teachers to make their work more interesting and more effective” [UPWC 41/44].  On a deeper level, the summer school program had a few other important side effects.  The program was open to both men and women and offered undergraduate and graduate coursework.  For decades, the majority of students were clergy from various congregations across the country:  primarily sisters along with priests and brothers.  These women were among Notre Dame’s first female students and alumnae.  Many of the summer school students were high school teachers and would promote Notre Dame to their college-bound male students.  Additionally, the Summer School program became a cornerstone in the foundation of the Graduate School.

“The first class of doctoral students in chemistry and the largest contingent in the newly created 1918 Summer Session for Advanced Studies,” including Rev. Julius A. Nieuwland, CSC (front row, center). (Caption from Schlereth, page 184)

From the beginning, coursework was available in most areas of study, including business, science, and liberal arts.  Since most of the students were secondary educators, the summer school program also offered specialized courses such as education and library science that were not normally offered during the regular school year.

Nuns and other students in a classroom (probably in Main Building) with audio-visual equipment during Summer School at the University of Notre Dame, c1950

In 1960, “One out of sixty-five nuns in the United States is improving her skills as a teacher or administrator at the University of Notre Dame this summer” with a total of 1373 nuns enrolled.  “The sisters, whose religious garb contrasts sharply with the Bermuda shorts and sports shirts of Notre Dame’s lay students, constitute the largest block of the 2877 summer school enrollment.  The student body currently numbers 268 priests, 79 seminarians, 163 Brothers, 904 lay men, and 90 lay women.”  Four-fifths of the summer session students were graduate students in 1960. [PNDP PR 60-55]

Two pages from a scrapbook “Sisters’ Summer Session at the University of Notre Dame,” by Sr. M. Madeline Dosmann, 1961

As time went on, demand for the summer school program declined.  The program was “originally intended to provide an opportunity for religious teachers to finish their baccalaureates in order to meet certification requirements then being imposed by many states” [Schlereth, page 161].  Its function perhaps was not as needed in later years as the numbers of clergy, particularly sisters, declined and the numbers of people with college degrees increased.  Summer sessions still exist today, but are primarily composed of regularly enrolled Notre Dame students.

For more information regarding the summer school sessions, the University Archives holds a number resources, including press releases, informational bulletins, course schedules, and newsletters.

PNDP 30-Su-1
PNDP 40-Su-1
UPWC 41/44
Notre Dame Press Releases
The University of Notre Dame:  A Portrait of Its History and Campus
, by Thomas Schlereth
GTJS 5/09
GPHR 45/1274
GHJC 50/40



When It’s Time to Change, You’ve Got to Rearrange

The building now known as Crowley Hall originally housed the Institute of Technology, which comprised of the following departments:  Theoretical and Experimental Engineering, Practical Mechanics, and Machine Drawing and Design.  The University Architect’s Building Inventory lists Fr. John Zahm, CSC, and Brother Charles Harding, CSC, as principle architects.  It is one of many examples of buildings on campus that have held a number of different functions over the years.

Institute of Technology Exterior, c1890s

The 1892-1893 prospectus bulletin stated that “[t]his building has been erected on the most approved plans, after a study of the best institutions of the kind at home and abroad.”  The 1893-1894 bulletin boasted that it was “a large and commodious building, devoted to the use of the students of civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering.  It is fully equipped with all the appliances for wood and metal working, and is supplied with the most approved forms of forges and cupolas for blacksmithing and foundry work.  The rooms for mechanical drawing, and the laboratories for special experimental work in mechanical engineering are used, and are complete in all their appointments.”

In 1907, the Chemistry department settled into this building, which would then be dubbed “Chemistry Hall.”  The Pharmacy Department had laboratories on the second floor.

Pharmacy laboratory in the Institute of Technology, c1910s
1913 Pharmacy Class, including Knute Rockne (second from left) and “Cupid” Gross

On September 13, 1916, fire broke out in the phosphorus collection on the third floor, injuring a number of firemen, students, and spectators.  With all the different chemicals and potential reactions in the building, the firemen had to use a different approach than water, which was only making matters worse.  They used wet sand to extinguish the phosphorus fire and the South Bend firefighters left the scene eight hours later, saving the lower two floors.

The Institute of Technology on fire, September 1916

A week later, however, some of the remaining phosphorous again ignited and continued to ravage the building, sending dangerous sparks as far away as St. Edward’s Hall.  This occurred when class was being held in the already charred building.  The building and its contents were pretty much destroyed, except for a small addition on the northeast corner, which remained untouched by the fire.

World War I Athletic Regiment, April 1917.
Chemistry Hall, destroyed by fire, is in the background

The cornerstone for new Chemistry Hall was laid at the 1917 commencement extercises and is now the Riley Hall of Art and Design.  Nieuwland Hall was built in 1952 as a new facility for the Chemistry Department.  Chemistry also has space in Stepan Chemistry Hall, which was completed in 1982 with an addition in 2002.

But the story of this 1893 building does not end with the fire.  Notre Dame restored the building, which became Hoynes Hall, the home of the Law School until the Law School Building was completed in 1931.  Later it housed the Architecture Department and Psychology Department, and it has been the home of the Music Department since 1976.  It was named for Patrick F. Crowley, who founded the Christian Family Movement (CFM) with his wife Patricia.  They were named Laetare Medalists in 1966.  Crowley’s brother-in-law John Caron made the gift to the University in Crowley’s name.  The Architecture Department moved to Lemonnier Library (now Bond Hall) when the Hesburgh Library opened in 1963.  The Psychology Department moved to Haggar Hall in 1974.

After the fire as Hoynes Hall, c1920s

PNDP 10-Ch-1
PNDP 10-Cr-1
PNDP 30-Bu-02:  1892-1894 Bulletins
GGPP 02/01
GNDL 30/30
GNDS 03/04

Art at Notre Dame

Art has long been an important offering in the curriculum at Notre Dame.  “Drawing and painting have been always favorite studies at Notre Dame, and improvements will be made to render these studies more attractive during the coming year [1870-1871].  Casts, busts, and valuable paintings will be procured for the use of the drawing class,  directed by Prof. C.A.B. Von Weller and Bro. Albert” [University catalog, 1869-1870, page 71].

Art class posed outside with their paintings and drawings, c1860s-1870s

Notre Dame has also been able to attract notable artists to the faculty, such as Luigi Gregori, Rev. Anthony Lauck, CSC, and Ivan Mestrovic, whose works continue to adorn campus.

Rev. Anthony Lauck teaching an Art Sculpture Class in a studio in the Main Building, Spring Semester 1953


Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh and Ivan Mestrovic in an Art Studio, c1960s

Notre Dame also has a long history of collecting art since the 1800s.  In 1917, University  President Rev. John Cavanaugh, CSC, obtained 136 paintings from Monseigneur Marois of Quebec.  Charles Wightman added another 108 masterpieces and became benefactor of the Wightman Memorial Gallery, housed in the University Library (now Bond Hall).

In 1932, the University hired Dr. Maurice H. Goldblatt as director of the Art Gallery.    He was a prominent authority on identifying originals from forgeries by examining chemical compositions of the paints and by using such tools as ultraviolet rays, x-rays, spectographs, and lightoscopes.  He worked on many high-profile international cases, including forgeries of the Mona Lisa.

Dr. Maurice Goldblatt, Director of the Wightman Art Collection, beside the fireplace of Francisco Borgia II in the Frederick H. Wickett Memorial Collection, c1933

The Snite Museum of Art was dedicated in 1980.  Notre Dame continues to collect and preserve important works and host traveling exhibits, including student work.  As such, the Snite Museum of Art is a valuable resource to the University and to the broader community.


UDIS 214/29-30
GSBA 2/14
GPHR 45/1779
GNDL 41/18
GDIS 51/03

Shakespeare Marathon 1984

In the spring of 1984, English Professor Paul Rathburn organized a Shakespeare Reading Marathon to raise money for Adam Milani, a St. Joseph High School student who was seriously injured in a hockey game the previous December.  April 25-29, 1984, on the Fieldhouse Mall, students, staff, and faculty continuously read Shakespeare for 100 hours.  Among the campus celebrities who participated were Football Coach Gerry Faust (pictured), Men’s Basketball Coach Digger Phelps, Professor Emil T. Hofman, and the Glee Club.  For their efforts, they raised over $5000 for the Milani Fund and earned a Guinness World Record for continuous reading of Shakespeare.

Sources:  The Observer, April 26 and May 2, 1984
UDIS 208/25
GPHR 20/13

Wireless Transmission at Notre Dame

In April 1899, Professor Jerome Green and his assistants were experimenting with wireless telegraphy.  Green is thought to be the first to send wireless transmissions in America and the first to use homemade apparatuses, as opposed to using foreign-made equipment.  The experiments started by transmitting signals from the physics laboratory in Science Hall (now called LaFortune Hall) to other rooms in the building.  They succeeded in sending signals from Science Hall to Sorin Hall, then from the flag pole to the Novitiate (which was located near present-day Holy Cross House).  “They found that everything worked perfectly well here, and so they set about their last and greatest trial.  This was to send a message from Notre Dame to St. Mary’s Academy which is more than a mile away from the University [, using the Basilica of the Sacred Heart for the transmission wire]. … This is the farthest distance a message has been sent in this country as far as we know and the boys in the scientific department feel highly elated over their success.” [Scholastic, 04/22/1899, page 494].

News traveled quickly of Green’s success, which “led the Chicago Tribune to invite Professor Green to Chicago to test the conditions that obtain in a large city.” [Scholastic, 05/06/1899].  The obstacles were great, but after experimenting sending signals to and from various buildings, Green was finally successful in sending messages for half an hour between the Tribune and Marquette buildings.  He was “able, after six hours of trial, to prove the Marconi system practical.” [Sunday Times Herald Chicago, 04/23/1899].

Sources:  Scholastic Magazine, 1899
Jerome J. Green Clippings (CZDD and PNDP 01-Gr-3)