Browse Exhibits (4 total)

Catholics and a Living Wage

Catholics and a Living Wage: How Much is Enough?

How much do you need to live? Can you have too much? How much is too little? It's a question with a history, and Catholics had their own way of answering it back in the early twentieth century. Prompted by the increasingly obvious gulf that developed between the richest and poorest Americans in the wake of the dramatic industrial change, Catholic University's Professor Father John A. Ryan, an economist, theologian, and politically - connected Washingtonian addressed the question of what constituted a living wage from a Catholic perspective.

See "Background" to begin.

, ,

Catholics and Industrialization

Catholic Responses to Industrialization

The spread of industrialization across the world over the last three centuries has created enormous new wealth for some, and desperate poverty for others. As industrialization accelerated in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century, Americans debated vigorously how to best cope with the change.

American Catholics, too, weighed in on these issues. They brought their own unique perspectives to the debate, but they did not always agree. Monsignor John A. Ryan, for example, looked to the government to help the poor; others like Cardinal William O'Connell feared government intervention would be heavy handed and intrusive. Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, once a parochial school teacher but later alienated from the Church, looked to unions to earn workers a proper living.

See "Background" to begin.

, , , , ,

Catholics and Social Security

The National Conference of Catholic Charities and the Social Security Act of 1935

Broadly conceived, charity is love and kindness towards all. Practically speaking, charity is the act of providing assistance to those in need. Within these general conceptions, however, are many ideas as to what charitable action, behavior, and ideals are, as well as an accompanying range of charitable practices and institutions. Here we focus on charitable ideas and practices in a specific time and place: the United States during the Great Depression; by specific practitioners of charity: the National Conference of Catholic Charities and the U.S. Government; with respect to a particular policy and law: the Social Security Act passed in the midst of the economic disaster of the Depression, on August 14, 1935. This site offers a documentary history and supporting educational materials illuminative of the collaboration between administration and government officials and leadership figures in the National Conference of Catholic Charities.

See "Background" to begin


Catholics and Social Welfare: The Bishops' Program of Social Reconstruction, 1919

The 1919 Bishops’ Program of Social Reconstruction

In the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, the United States experienced economic changes that radically transformed politics and society. In an effort to address the uncertainty caused by these changes, the National Catholic Welfare Council (NCWC) issued the “Bishops’ Program of Social Reconstruction,” in 1919. The bishops’ plan offered a guide for overhauling America’s politics, society, and economy based on Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum and a variety of American influences. This website supplies a range of teaching resources related to these influences, the creation of the plan, as well as the opposition it encountered.

See “Background” for more information.

, , ,