This chronology offers a list of selected dates related to the Catholics and Social Security website.


  • 1727: Ursuline sisters arrive from France to open an orphanage, a school for street girls, and a health facility in New Orleans: the beginning of formal Catholic charity in the present United States.
  • 1845: The Society of St. Vincent de Paul in the United States is founded in St. Louis; a national organization of the SSVP is not established in 1864.
  • 1891: Rerum Novarum, the foundational document for modern Catholic social teaching, is written by Pope Leo XIII.
  • 1900: More than 800 Catholic institutions are operating in the U.S. by 1900, providing care to children, the aged, the disabled, and the ill.


  • 1910: The National Conference of Catholic Charities is founded at CUA in order "to bring about a sense of solidarity" among those in charitable ministries and "to be the attorney for the poor." NCCC promotes the establishment of diocesan bureaus of Catholic charities. Msgr. William J. Kerby of CUA is selected to be the first executive secretary of NCCC. The Conference continues to meet every other year until 1910, when the meetings became annual.
  • 1916: The Diocesan Directors Committee is created in the NCCC in order to give priests a more formal leadership role in the organization.
  • 1917: With the support of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, NCCC begins monthly publication of the Catholic Charities Review.
  • 1920: Msgr. John O'Grady succeeds Kerby as executive secretary of NCCC, a position he holds until 1961.
  • 1920: The Conference of Religious is formed within NCCC to promote specialized training and leadership development among women and men religious, and to foster improved institutionalized care and services.
  • 1923: NCCC publishes A Program for Catholic Child-Caring Homes, a work of the Conference on Religious, geared towards improving standards of institutional care.
  • 1929: The Depression prompts intense activity by NCCC and diocesan bureaus to promote social legislation based upon Catholic principles. Msgr. O'Grady becomes a major national voice on social reform.


  • 1933: The Federal Emergency Relief Administration is created; it is authorized to provide the first direct grants to States for unemployment relief.
  • 1934: The National Catholic School of Social Service is founded at CUA; Msgr. O'Grady, NCCC executive secretary, as its first dean.
  • June 8, 1934: The President recommends new legislation to promote economic security, stating: "Among our objectives I place the security of men, women and children of the nation first."
  • June 29, 1934: The President creates the Committee on Economic Security (CES) to study the problems relating to economic security and to make recommendations for a program of legislation. Dr. Edwin Witte is appointed its first Executive Director.
  • November 5, 1934: Roosevelt announces the members of a 23-member Advisory Council to the CES. Msgr. John A. Ryan, director of the Social Action Department at the National Catholic Welfare Conference and professor of political science at CUA, is appointed as a member of the Advisory Council. The Council establishes a number of subsidiary advisory committees: the Advisory Committee on Employment and Relief counts Msgr. John O'Grady of NCCC among its members.
  • January 15, 1935: The CES releases its Report to President Roosevelt.
  • January 17, 1935 The CES's recommendations, embodied in the Economic Security Bill, are introduced in Congress.
  • March 1, 1935: The House Ways and Means Committee votes to change the name of the Economic Security Bill is changed to the Social Security Bill.
  • April 19, 1935: The Social Security Bill is passed by the House of Representatives, 372 to 33, with 25 not voting.
  • May 6, 1935: The President terminates the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and creates the Works Progress Administration in its place. The WPA administers emergency work relief programs for the unemployed.
  • June 19, 1935: The Social Security Bill is passed in the Senate by a vote of 77 Yes, 6 No, and 12 Not Voting.
  • August 9, 1935: The final version of the Social Security Bill is passed Congress, with strong support from NCCC.
  • August 14, 1935: President Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act into law.
  • August 23, 1935: The Senate confirms the nominations of the original members of the Social Security Board: John G. Winant, Chairman (for six years), Arthur J. Altmeyer, (for four years), and Vincent M. Miles, (for two years).
  • November 6, 1935: The CES submits a Final Report to the President; it is then disbanded as the Social Security Board assumes permanent responsibility for administering the Social Security Act


  • January 1, 1936: An Informational Service is established under the Social Security Board to educate the public about the provisions and programs of the Act.
  • June 2, 1936: The Social Security account number, which contained no significant facts about the employee other than the State of registry, is approved by the Social Security Board.
  • November 24, 1936: The first applications for Social Security account numbers are distributed by the Post Office.
  • January 1, 1937: Workers begin to acquire credits toward old-age insurance benefits. The first lump-sum payments to eligible workers or their survivors made.
  • May 24, 1937: In three decisions, the Supreme Court validated the unemployment insurance provisions of the Social Security Act and ruled old-age pensions were constitutional.


  • 1949: The National Housing Act is passed with strong support from NCCC and Msgr. O'Grady, culminating 20 years of O'Grady's leadership of the Catholic community and the nation on housing needs.
  • 1951: The first meeting of the International Conference of Catholic Charities (later Caritas Internationalis) is held in Rome. Msgr. O'Grady is a prime mover in its founding.
  • 1985: NCCC celebrates its 75th Anniversary in San Francisco, with greetings from Pope John Paul II and President Reagan.
  • 1986: NCCC becomes Catholic Charities USA.

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