About the Book

Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat Founder of the Society of the Sacred Heart Namesake of Barat College In researching Barat’s history, Sister Curry had access to unpublished primary material in the Society’s general archives in Rome, the archives of the United States Province of the Society of the Sacred Heart in St. Louis, and Barat's archives at DePaul University. She also had access to a trove of photographs, historical and contemporary. First-hand information from interviews with many Religious of the Sacred Heart, Barat’s former administrators, faculty and staff, both clerical and lay, and alumnae and alumni are also incorporated into her history of Barat.

The history of Barat College is situated within the framework of the educational philosophy of the Society of the Sacred Heart, the Society’s mission of higher education in the United States, and the history of the American Catholic Church from the mid-Nineteenth Century until the beginning of the Twenty-first Century. Many of the religious and social changes that have taken place in the Church, in the United States, and in the Chicago metropolitan area during these years form part of the history of Barat College. The audience that will welcome a history of Barat College is extensive. This history is important to the Religious of the Sacred Heart, to the vast Sacred Heart family, to Barat’s countless alumnae and alumni, its former faculty and staff, its many friends, and to those interested in the history of women’s colleges and in Catholic higher education in the United States.

Brief History of Barat College
Five Religious of the Sacred Heart came to Chicago in 1858. They founded an academy on Wabash Avenue, moved it the next year to Rush and Illinois Streets, and in 1860 moved it to Taylor Street on Chicago’s rapidly growing West Side. In 1904 the academy moved to Lake Forest in Chicago’s northern suburbs. Evolving from the academy, Barat College received its charter from the state of Illinois in 1918 and graduated its first class in 1920. During the years following World War I and during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, Barat’s enrollment grew slowly but its reputation as a strong liberal arts college in the traditions of the Society of the Sacred Heart grew rapidly. After World War II, Barat was able to take advantage of its international connections and its reputation for excellence to recruit an outstanding faculty and student body. In the post-war years its enrollment expanded, first to 500 and later to 800 students.

In the mid-1960’s, Barat was invited to enter into negotiations with the University of Chicago and then with the University of Notre Dame regarding the relocation of its campus from Lake Forest, first to the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago and then to South Bend. The decision was made, however, that physical proximity to a large coeducational institution was not necessary, and Barat remained in Lake Forest. In 1969 the governance of the college was transferred to a lay board of trustees, and in 1982 the college became co-educational. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, the college grew strong by means of its program for adult returning women, its Learning Opportunities Program, and its strong professional programs in education, studio art, theater, and dance. However, primarily because of financial difficulties, Barat College was sold to DePaul University in 2001. In June of 2005, DePaul closed the college.

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