20th c. journalist and social activist who co-founded the Catholic Worker Movement.

As a journalist, social activist, and peace advocate, Dorothy Day spent the majority of her life working toward a vision of social justice that affirmed the human dignity of all people. By engaging in corporal works of mercy—feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and imprisoned, burying the dead, and giving alms to the poor—Day’s daily outreach not only served to support those in need, but also provided a material example of how to treat all members of our communities. The Catholic Worker Movement, a simple program advocating for direct action, modeled for its participants true acts of mercy by giving from the heart through personal sacrifice.

While the crisis lasted, people loved each other. It was as though they were united in Christian solidarity. It makes one think of how people could, if they would, care for each other in times of stress, unjudgingly in pity and love.

Dorothy Day was born on November 8, 1897, in New York. Her nominally Protestant family moved from city to city to accommodate her father’s job as a sportswriter. While living in San Francisco, Day learned early lessons of generosity and social justice through her parents’ example—in particular, from her mother. In 1906, after the devastation wrought in the San Francisco earthquake, Day remembered how those displaced from their homes were helped by strangers and neighbors in a spirit of loving kindness. “All the neighbors joined my mother in serving the homeless,” Day later wrote. “Every stitch of available clothes was given away.” This moment held particular significance for the young girl, who would try to recapture this sense of community and humanity in the world, for the rest of her life.

A Message from Our Director, Patrick Murdock

Welcome to the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center. No matter who you are, where you’re from, or what you believe, we hope that as you engage with our “Visions of America” online exhibit—and our plans for opening the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center on Philadelphia’s historic Independence Mall—you find a piece of yourself in the story of America.

American values like faith, liberty, justice, hope, unity and love have shaped our country and formed us as a people. These same values have motivated some of our greatest cultural moments and political achievements from independence, to emancipation, to women’s suffrage, and to civil rights. And these values have pulled us through the nation’s darkest days of war, domestic strife, and terrorist attacks. We invite you to explore these values, their source, and the incredible lives of people they have inspired from America’s founding through today.

We hope that as you step into this journey of exploration, you will discover that these stories of great Americans—and the values they embraced—remain the values that unite us today. And we hope these values are an inseparable part of your story, too.