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Dorothy Day was an activist who worked for such social causes as pacifism and women's suffrage through the prism of the Catholic Church.
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Intrigued by the Catholic faith for years, Dorothy Day converted in 1927. In 1933, she co-founded The Catholic Worker, a newspaper promoting Catholic teachings that became very successful and spawned the Catholic Worker Movement, which tackled issues of social justice guided by its religious principles. Day also helped establish special homes to help those in need.
"I never considered myself a liberal—I considered myself a radical."
"There are always answers; they are just not calculated to soothe."
Writer, editor and social reformer Dorothy Day was born on November 8, 1897, in New York City. Day was a radical during her time, working for such social causes as pacifism and women's suffrage. She was the third of five children born to her parents, Grace and John, who worked as a journalist. The family moved to California for his job when Dorothy was 6 years old. They later lived in Chicago.
A bright student, Day was accepted to the University of Illinois. She was enrolled there from 1914 to 1916, but she abandoned her studies to move to New York City. There Day became involved in a literary and liberal crowd in the city's Greenwich Village neighborhood. Playwright Eugene O'Neill was one of her friends at the time. Day worked as a journalist, writing for several socialist and progressive publications in 1910s and '20s. She interviewed a number of interesting public figures of the day, including Leon Trotsky.
Socially and politically active, Day was arrested several times for her involvement in protests. She even went on a hunger strike after being jailed for protesting in front of the White House in 1917 as part of an effort to get women the right to vote.
In personal life, Day experienced some turmoil. She was involved with writer Lionel Moise for a time. When she became pregnant, he insisted she have an abortion. She terminated her pregnancy, but the relationship still didn't last. After this incident, Day wandered around for a time, living in Europe and California among other places.
Using her experiences as a progressive activist and an artistic bohemian, Day wrote a novel The Eleventh Virgin. The book was published in 1924. Around this time, she became involved with Forster Batterham, a biologist and an anarchist. They lived together for several years and welcomed a daughter whom they named Tamar Therese. Day had the child baptized at a Catholic church—a decision that started her on the path to her spiritual awakening. In late 1927, she converted to Catholicism.
Day met Peter Maurin, a French immigrant and former Christian brother, in 1932. Together they founded The Catholic Worker, a newspaper promoting Catholic teachings and tackling societal issues of the day, the following year. The publication became very successful and spawned the Catholic Worker Movement, which tackled issues of social justice guided by its religious principles. As part of the movement’s belief in hospitality, Day helped establish special homes to help those in need.
In addition to her writing for The Catholic Worker, Day also penned several autobiographical works.
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