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The Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart, 1890 - ca. 1920

Established in Baltimore in 1890, the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart are an order of Catholic nuns dedicated to educating “the poor, the afflicted and the neglected” in Catholic teachings and practice. Originally ministering specifically to African Americans, by 1896 the scope of their mission had expanded to people of all races. They soon founded schools for deaf children and provided catechism classes to Italian immigrants. After 1902 they founded houses to do mission work in the recently acquired American territories of Puerto Rico and Guam. The Mission Helpers' work placed them at the intersections of race, religion, gender, immigration, childcare, and education in turn-of-the-century America. This site explores and provides context for the first generation of Mission Helpers, roughly between the years 1890 and 1920, by tracing the activities of their earliest leaders, the Mothers Joseph Hartwell and Demetrias Cunningham, for the first time bringing to light examples of their correspondences, photographs, and official documentation for the general public.