You can now read three publications of Sister Mary Ellen O’Hanlon (1882-1961), revered and renowned professor of botany at Rosary College in the mid 20th century. Sister O’Hanlon focused her research on using “an enlightened, scientific approach to human differences to combat racism and prejudice” (Women Building Chicago 1790-1990, page 645), advocated for racial justice, and was very active in the civil rights movement. Sister Diane Kennedy explains Sister O’Hanlon’s writing as extremely important in “guiding college students, workers and others toward the civil rights movement.” (Dominican Magazine Fall 2013, page 10.)
The three publications are:
Somewhere there is recorded an Arabian proverb in which the author distinguishes three classes of human beings – “those who are immovable, those who are movable, and those who move.” This very terse and pithy classification of mankind does not coincide with the more popular but much less profound distinctions which are offered by the physical anthropologist; because a proportionate representation of all three of these classes, according to the Arabian philosopher, would undoubtedly be found in each of the various “races” or groups which are distinguished by the anthropologist. Because of their popularity and the exaggeration of their significance, these less fundamental and quite superficial distinctions designate but also confuse the meaning of the concept of race.
The Heresy of Race
This booklet is designed to answer some of the current questions which are almost certain to be asked whenever the subject of race relations is proposed. The reception of RACIAL MYTHS and the continuous call for it from many types of organizations, institutions and individuals seem to indicate that this sequel to it will meet a similar response and may be of some help to the many sincere souls who are rightly disposed toward social justice and Christian charity.
Three Careers: Highlights and Overtones
Introduction by Sister Benvenuta Bras, O.P.: Sister Mary Ellen O’Hanlon, a member of the Rosary College faculty during the first 30-some years of its existence existence, a demanding professor of botany, was well-known in college and professional circles. Characteristic were her imperious bearing, her confident statements of opinion, her strong and perhaps domineering manner, and with that, her friendly and engaging personality. Members of the Rosary faculty knew her well. Yet for many of our younger sisters, her name means only a prayer on the list of our deceased sisters. I expected to find therein data for a “curriculum vitae,” with appropriate dates, lists of publications, professional memberships and possibly some correspondence, and, in her obituary, an account of her last days. What I did find changed my plans completely. Sister Mary Ellen left a typed autobiography, THREE CAREERS, clearly intended for publication. My astonishment and delight increased exponentially as I read, and I knew at once that her own presentation was infinitely superior to any summary I could make. Therefore the following pages offer THREE CAREERS as she wrote it, beginning with a table of contents and a list of illustrations for her proposed work.