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Mary Florence O'Shea Papers

Identifier: A10049

Scope and Contents

The Mary Florence O'Shea Papers contain materials from four generations of her family, including items from the O'Sheas, the Stokes and the Maleys. Neither Mary Florence nor Mary Jane had children, and these papers represent the end of their familial line. The bulk of the materials come from Mary Florence's own activities, and is grouped according to each significant milestone as she accounted for them.

There are hundreds of family photos, much ephemera related to her travels and interests, with a particular emphasis on her year spent in Burma from 1953 to 1954. Also of note is her collection of photographs and ephemera from her time as the principal of Luke O'Toole School located on Chicago's south side.


  • 1864 - 2010
  • Majority of material found within 1943 - 1997

Language of Materials


Biographical / Historical

Mary Florence O’Shea was born September 8th, 1920. She graduated from Rosary College in 1941. From there she attended University of Chicago Teachers’ College and Loyola University from 1941 to 1943. During that same period she taught math at Wendell Phillips High School and chemistry at Marshall High School.

In 1943 she, along with her sister Mary Jane, enlisted in the Naval WAVES program, and served as a Navigation Instructor, Navigation Training Officer and Assistant Communications Officer, until 1946. Mary Florence and her sister Mary Jane were the first women ever to serve on military flight crews.

During the years of 1952-1954 she received a Fulbright Grant to teach in Burma. She taught for the State's Central High School from June 1953-1954, and was given the name Daw Myint Swe by her students and associates, who continued to use this address in their correspondence with her over the years. While in Southeast Asia she used the opportunity to visit Singapore, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan and Thailand, finally returning to the United States via Hawaii in April of 1954.

After returning from her travels and work in Burma, Mary Florence began work with Phillips High School. On March 14, 1955 she was transferred from Phillips High to the Hyde Park High School, an assignment which began March 14, 1955. Mary Florence was later appointed principal of Philip Murray School on September 7, 1959. She later served as principal for Luke O'Toole Elementary School from 1964 until [1985]. She retired from Chicago Public Schools on December 20th, 1985.

Mary Florence continued to travel until the early 2000s. She passed away on the 20th of February, 2010.

Mrs. B.Maley died January 28, 1896, aged 74 years old

Bernard Stokes, brother of Caroline Stokes O'Shea, died March 31, 1933.

Carrie Stokes O'Shea, Mary Florence's mother, was buried on the first of August, 1942.


6.75 Linear Feet


Generally throughout the collection materials are arranged chronologically, excepting in the case of subject files and correspondence where materials are alphabetical. The whole collection is arranged chronologically, progressing from the O'Shea family papers on through each significant chapter of Mary Florence's life, in respect to her own particular organizational style.

Mary Florence O'Shea kept many photographs documenting her activities throughout her life. These photographs were not kept in a single location, nor necessarily with the relevant collections, within her home. Prints that were found with the individual collections were often stored separately. In the interest of ease of access, photographs for any given series are interfiled with the relevant papers as the final Sub-series of each given Series.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials bequeathed to Dominican University by Mary Florence O'Shea



Related Materials

The Burma Studies Foundation, NIU, DeKalb, IL

Separated Materials

Duplicate materials and moldy materials discarded. Most of the book collection transferred to the Rebecca Crown Library for processing. Slides were evaluated on a case-by-case basis and faded or discolored items were discarded. The bulk of the discarded slides were from Mary Florence's 1986 trip to China. She purchased several color slide packets of tourist destinations, all of which were severely discolored or faded.

Several hundred photographs were discarded from Mary Florence's travels, due to fading, duplication, damage, or for a lack of contextual information. Images of locations that are well-documented popularly, such as Paris, Rome, Sicily, London, etc., and which contained no intrinsic value other than as tourist photography, were also discarded. In all, 16 photograph albums were removed from the collection. A single two-volume sample of her photo album making was retained.

Select books removed to the general Special Collections book collection: The Way to Cook by Julia Child, signed to Florence; Your Irish Ancestors by J. Anderson Black placed with Mae Kennedy Kane's genealogical books; Le Vrai Visage du Padre Pio: Prêtre et Apôtre by Maria Winowska, signed to Mary Jane, placed with Fribourg book collection.

Hats and scarves transferred to the fabric department via Susan Strawn.



Steven Szegedi

Personal Names:

Margaret Aung Thwin
O'Neill, Sister Thomas Aquinas
O'Shea, Mary Jane
Mary Florence O'Shea Papers
8021 O'Shea Family Papers
Steven Szegedi
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Dominican University Archives Repository

Dominican University Archives and Special Collections
7900 West Division Street
River Forest IL 60305 USA
(708) 524-5929