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Dorothy Day Center

The Center has a special focus on the life and legacy of Dorothy Day.   

Dorothy Day accepts DD medal

Dorothy Day receiving the De La Salle Medal from then-College president, Br. Gregory Nugent, on May 19, 1975.

The Dorothy Day Center for Study and Promotion of Social Catholicism is a resource for the campus, our local community and the worldwide Lasallian network on the Catholic social tradition. Its goals embody the Manhattan College's Lasallian mission, which includes social justice, faith in the presence of God, and concern for the poor.

The Center continues our history of living out the Catholic social justice tradition, which includes activism for labor justice, the Pacem in Terris Institute, the foundation of the Peace and Justice Studies program, the promotion of fair trade, and the development of community-engaged learning. View lectures and events the College has hosted to honor Day's legacy.

Named in honor of Servant of God, Dorothy Day, the Center seeks to study and promote the work of the following key figures and social movements she is associated with:

  • Peter Maurin, a former member of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools,
  • The Catholic Worker Movement,
  • Pax Christi,
  • The Plowshares Movement,
  • Labor justice movements, and
  • Movements for pacifism and nuclear disarmament. 

The Center aims to raise greater awareness of the witness of Dorothy Day and the wider Catholic social justice tradition.    

  • Dorothy Day Exhibit
    Image of Dorothy Day Exhibits

    A focal point of the Dorothy Day Center is our exhibit on the life of Dorothy Day. With over 100 artifacts donated by her family, the exhibit highlights Dorothy’s life as an activist, journalist, mother and grandmother. The exhibit is open to the public, including small groups. Visitors can also visit the offices of the Dorothy Day Guild and see a campus art exhibit.

    Please contact ddcenter@manhattan.edu for more information.

  • About Dorothy Day
    dorothy day

    By Julie Leininger-Pycior, Professor Emeritus of History 

    Dorothy Day was the leader of the Catholic Worker movement, founded in 1933. To this day, Catholic Workers live in radical solidarity with the poor and protest injustice. Day has been recommended by the Archdiocese of New York and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as a candidate for sainthood.

    Dorothy Day was born in Brooklyn on November 8, 1897. Preferring radical activism to classroom discussion, she dropped out of the University of Illinois and headed to New York City where she reported for socialist periodicals. She settled in a Staten Island bungalow with biologist Forster Batterham. Her partner believed neither in marriage nor religion, however, so when she had their baby Tamar baptized, the relationship ended. Meantime she prayed, “Where were the Catholics?” after witnessing Communists advocate for the unemployed. Soon after, she met philosopher Peter Maurin, an adherent of Catholic social justice teachings, and she began the Catholic Worker newspaper, maintaining the movement’s pacifism even during World War II.

    Her postwar protests against nuclear armament were unpopular, but later, growing opposition to the Vietnam War reinvigorated the Catholic Worker movement. (The Catholic Church has condemned most wars since the Cold War era, one measure of her continued influence.) In later life she continued attending daily Mass and pursued her activism, including being jailed alongside striking farmworkers a few years before her death. Her daughter Tamar Hennessy would eventually make Day a grandmother of nine children. Over the course of her life Day authored seven books. In her autobiography, she wrote, “The final word is love... We know him in the breaking of bread, and we know each other in the breaking of bread... We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes in community.” Day died on November 29, 1980 -- and is buried in Pleasant Plains on Staten Island.

  • Student Internships and Research

    The Dorothy Day Center aims to help students with internships and research projects. Past projects include:

    • 2020: “Bridging Science with Social Justice: What Public Health Can Learn from Dorothy Day”: Aimen Khurram
    • 2019: Dorothy Day: A Twentieth Century Take on Twenty–First Century Environmental Injustices on Low Income American Communities (Shannon Colford) 
    • 2018: Dorothy Day’s Feminism and Peace (Shannon Raczynski)
    • 2017: Challenging The Social Order: Worker Cooperatives Live Out the Vision of Dorothy Day (Emily Center)
    • 2016: Dorothy Day’s Witness and Manhattan College (Alannah Boyle)