Mary Mangan, S.L. | Webster University

Mary Mangan, S.L.

Black and white photograph portrait of Mary ManganInterviews


Marjorie Therese "Mary" Mangan (1913-2007), a native of Chicago, heard about what was then Webster College from her piano teacher whose nieces had attended the St. Louis-based institution. Mangan saw the college for the first time when she arrived the fall of her freshman year.


Sr. Mary earned an A.B. degree in history from Webster in 1935. She worked and taught for a few years and then entered the Loretto order in Nerinx, KY. She later earned a M.A. in history from St. Louis University in 1951 and a Ph.D. in International Relations from Yale University in 1964.


Sr. Mary taught at Loretto Heights College in Denver from 1948-1956. She returned to Webster as a faculty member in 1956 and during her subsequent career at Webster University, she chaired the history department for several years and also served as chair of the university faculty. She was made Professor Emeritus in 1979 although she continued teaching part-time for many years afterwards.


Sr. Mary was particularly interested in race relations and African-American history. She was one of the first group of ten college and university faculty members to receive a Danforth Foundation fellowship which enabled her to do post-doctoral work in Black Studies under John Hope Franklin at the University of Chicago (1969-1970). She spent two previous summers conducting workshops on race relations sponsored by the National Catholic Conference on Interracial Justice and substituted for a summer at Miles College, a historically black institution in Birmingham, Alabama, so a faculty member could take a leave to continue his studies.


Sr. Mary was formally recognized for her teaching and many contributions to Webster on several occasions. She received the Outstanding Educator of America Award (1972), Distinguished Alumna Award (1982), the Mary Elizabeth Newell Award for loyalty and commitment to Webster(1988), the Sisters of Loretto Service Award (1997), and the University's Declaration of Merit Award (1998).


Sr. Mary retired for good in 2001. She moved to the Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, KY in 2005 and passed away in 2007.


Interview note

Sr. Mary experienced change firsthand as she saw Webster University transform from a St. Louis-based, Catholic women's college to a secular, global university. In her first interview from July 2002, she talks about her background and what brought her to Webster College in 1931. She describes campus life in the 1930s and what she did after graduation. In February 2003, Sr. Mary sat down for her second interview which covered her teaching career. She shares her opinion on the changes that occurred at Webster, including coeducation, the transition from a Catholic college to a secular institution, and the establishment of international campuses.


Black and white photograph of Mary Mangan in her habit

Selected writings by Sr. Mary Mangan

"History and the liberally educated person." (1956). In Mary Emil, I.H.M. (Ed.), Report of Everett Curriculum Workshop (pp. 56-61). Seattle, WA: Heiden's Mailing Bureau.


The history of Webster (Loretto) College from September 1, 1916 to September 1, 1917. (1934) Webster College (unpublished manuscript).


"The Sisters of Loretto: St. Louis, 1847-1997." (1997-98, Winter). Gateway Heritage, 18(3), pp. 26-35.


Story of Webster University: the first fifty years, 1915-1965. Webster University (unpublished manuscript).


"Unwritten history." (1967). In Traxler, M.P., S.S.N.D. (Ed.), Split-level lives: American nuns speak on race. Techny, IL: Divine Word Publications.



"In memoriam: Sister Mary Mangan, S.L. Nov. 21, 1913-July 3, 2007." (2008, Winter). Webster World, 13(2), p. 42.


"Professor Emeritus Mary Mangan to receive Sisters of Loretto Service Award in June." (1997, Spring). Webster World, 3(11), p. 32.


Schuster, J. (1988, Summer). Sister Mary Mangan: "Too busy to retire." Webster World, 1(1), pp. 8-9.


"Sister Mary Mangan, Webster University professor, social activist." (2007, July 8). St. Louis Post-Dispatch. (Webster/Eden access)