The Ramonat Seminar: St. Ignatius Catalog

“For the greater glory of God (A.M.D.G)”

I got a chance to check out this course catalog from 1879-1880, about 10 years after St. Ignatius College’s (the predecessor to Loyola University) conception. Check out Dan’s coverage of the other catalog we used, and the other members of the seminar’s sources here. A general break down is as follows…

  • Pgs. 3-5 list the members of the board of trustees, and so on. The President and Faculty members are all Jesuits, as one would expect!
  • Pgs. 6-8 have Acknowledgments for recent donors to the school’s museum (which includes several pieces of meteorite by Miss Mary Walshe, and a pistol of the year 1805 by Mr. Patrick Mangan), as well as a general history, mission statement, and payment needed to attend
  • Pgs. 9-14 showcase the 3 courses of study, namely the Classics (broken into the Grammar and Collegiate departments), the Scientific, and the Commercial, as well as the Preparatory track for students who are literate and over the age of ten who want to prepare to enter the official courses offered
  • Pg. 15-20 spans the student directory
  • Pg. 20 shows that there were a total of 192 students registered at that time, 76 in the Classical Course (liberal arts if you will), 2 in the Scientific Course, 77 in the Commercial Course, and 37 in the Preparatory Department
  • Pgs. 21-22 cover three organization on campus The Chrysostomian Society (A literature society), The German Academy (language club), and The St. Cecilia Society (literary and religious festivals), with Faculty seemingly heavily involved with selection of the Presidents
  • Pgs. 23-34 covers various marks of distinction, akin to a deans list, with a Premium position (sometimes 1st and 2nd), and distinguished spot where multiple students could be placed as of June 30th, 1880, in each field of study under the Classical department major/degree track, than the Commercial department major/degree track
  • Pg. 35-38 is an Appendix section detailing the hopes for the Museum, and what is already in the collection (noting a more detailed list is to come even though this one seems pretty detailed already!)
  • Pg. 39 is a list of distinguished students for the Annual Examination, dated Monday, September 6, 1880, with scores ranging from an 100 to a .75* at the lowest end
  • Finally, Pg.40 covers what I assume is a two-part programme for the Annual Commencement Exercises, with selected poetry reading (some being Henry Longfellow “The Famine“), music, distribution of awards, and everything one would remember from their own middle school/high school graduation with an old timey style

*.75 is the lowest I could see

(Will add bold and italics to make the list easier to read later on!)

What I found most striking about this assignment was the amount of siblings in the courses (through a quick glance through the student directory), and overall parallelisms with Loyola Chicago of today when it comes to course structure. I found myself wanting to know more about Daniel Byrne and John Pyne (the only Scientific Students), George Blatter (Poetry major who wrote “Our Future,” for the end of the year programme), James Jordan (100 mark on the final exam/Annual examination), and many others!

The rivalry between the classics aka the Humanities and degrees geared towards Science and Industry is echoed here, and differs from the 1870’s version of this same catalog. Generously gifted by the University itself, Ellen Skerrett’s Born in Chicago: A History of Chicago’s Jesuit University offers insights as to why the initial curriculum might have expanded beyond the classics, as urban diversification, and Catholic/Protestant competition would have forced the Jesuits to expand the scope of their degrees, and therefore enhance their value (48-56). The Scientific track is tacked onto the Commercial course, however, and these particular problems are a little anachronistically associated here, seeing as that was more towards the 1890s.

Nevertheless, it was interesting to see how the humanities still dominated even back then, with such a small student population, who probably ranged in age from 10 to late teens. “The College is intended for Day Scholars only”, stuck out to me as well because, even though it’s a boarding school set up, these students would have returned home at one point, making it essentially a school full of commuters.

What was the college experience like for the students who graced St. Ignatius College doors, before it moved and transformed into Loyola University Chicago?

Essentially, the school year would have been roughly similar to the high school system of now, broken into four quarters (1st of September, the 15th of November, the 1st of February and the 15th of April), which would comprise the 10 month Scholastic Year (school year or academic year) beginning on the first Monday of September, and ending on the last Wednesday of June.

This education all together came with the hefty price tag of $40.00 per student (though greatly reduced from the $60.00 price tag the education warranted in the 1870s), with payments made at the start of each quarter or semi-annually ($10.00-$20.00), with other associated school fees.

Unlike today’s universities,  “[o]nce every month…badges of distinction for proficiency are bestowed upon the most deserving”, and a student could advance to higher classrooms throughout the “session” or academic year. And, “satisfactory testimonials” instead of transcripts were required for transfer students, which the Prefect of Studies would use to place them into classes.

Also Bulletins/Monthly Reports detailing the “Deportment (behaviors/manners), Diligence, and Proficiency” of each student is interesting, akin to a more encompassing dean’s list. Mimicking a bordering school of today, when it comes to the instruction of Catholic teachings, and the education in general, “the pupils [were] constantly under the watchful care of one or more of the Prefects or Professors”. A stress on academic rigor and an emphasis on moral character building was placed on the student population. And, after they made it through, they’d be greeted by the music featured above and below during their graduation ceremony.

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Now, while it’s easy to reconstruct a macro version of the institution, it’s harder to see how the students themselves were impacted. Did few make it through the whole course? Did the Jesuits feel any pressures with the Catholic community? What did they encounter when returning home from school? What of their futures afterwards in the recently reconstructed Post-Fire Chicago?

In the third chapter (The Era of Urban Chaos) of Dominic A. Pacyga’s A Biography Chicago, “Catholics, Jews, socialists, anarchists, and others all seemed indistinguishable to many native-born Protestant white Americans”  (76). Still considered pariah by the dominate power structure for being Catholics (if not any number of different intersecting identities such a working class, Jewish, etc.), what kept some in school/how did it feel to be marked outside of it? And, on the flip side, what made it inaccessible to others?

Dominic’s assertion in chapter four (Reacting to Chaos) that, “[b]y the late 1880s and early 1890s…[t]he West Side Irish had made it in America. The institutions they built allowed them the social mobility to climb up the class ladder” (121). So, for those who had not climbed up the ladder, and so on, what did it feel like to be left behind…? Did St. Ignatius’ degrees become worthwhile for more reasons that just a solid, Jesuit education?

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