Exhibit Narrative: Mollie West

The Mollie West collection at the Women and Leadership Archives is extensive. With a few recent accession, the collection will eventually contain records from almost every year of Mollie’s life. Mollie’s papers contains records that encompass both her private and public life. The majority of the exhibit will focus on Mollie’s work in the public eye but there were key moments in her private life that influenced the direction of her work with labor unions and political parties. 

02 Mollies French horn edit

The French was near and dear to Mollie’s heart for her most of her life. She often wore a necklace with a little silver French Horn charm.

In order to place the story of Mollie West in its proper context, the exhibit will be told in chronological order using Omeka. Mollie’s actions reflect the backdrop of larger state, national, and global issues. The exhibit follows the entirety of Mollie’s life from her birth in 1916 to her death in 1915. Beginning in Poland, the viewer can follow a young Mollie as she becomes an immigrant in America learning to speak English and overcoming a physical disability. Her love of music and the French horn eventually starts her on a path of social and political activism. From there the narrative follows Mollie through marriage, personal tragedy, communism, labor unions, and political activism. The end of the exhibit will focus on Mollie’s feelings of uncertainty as she leavings the printing trade and feels she has lost her purpose only to find new meaning in her volunteer work with the Illinois Labor Historical Society. The narrative of Mollie West’s life is told mostly through photographs and documents. An audio recording of an interview allows Mollie to tell the exhibit viewer personally about some of the major events in her life. 

16 Mollie West women's hall of fame 1990

Women’s Hall of Fame inductee, 1990

The Women and Leadership Archives will play a vital role in promoting the Mollie West exhibit. Through their Facebook page, website, and blog, the exhibit as well as the Mollie West papers can be promoted to an audience that already follows work of the WLA. LUC has several times utilized and promoted the work of the WLA on their various social media platforms and will be a key source to announcing the exhibit to the larger LUC community and Chicago. The Illinois Labor Historical Society worked with the WLA on a memorial for Mollie West and their promotional help will ensure the exhibit reaches audiences outside of Chicago.

Be sure to check out one of my group member’s blog post explaining more about the exhibit: eHistory

*Images courtesy of the Women and Leadership Archives at Loyola University Chicago

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