The critical roles of Catholic nuns in Chicago's development
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Suellen Hoy's Good Hearts describes and analyzes the activities and contributions of Catholic nuns in Chicago. Beginning with the arrival of women-religious in 1846 and ending with the sisters' social activism in the 1960s, Good Hearts traces the development and evolution of the sisters' work and ministry that included education, health care, and social services.
Contrary to conventional portrayals of religious as reclusive and conservative, the nuns in Good Hearts are revealed as dynamic, powerful agents of change. Catholic sisters lived on the edge, serving sick and poor immigrants as well as those racially and religiously unlike themselves, such as the uneducated black migrants from the South. At all times, the sisters emphasized the importance of education to social mobility and equality. Hoy makes extensive use of primary documents, secondary sources, and personal interviews, as well as a series of revealing photographs to document their work and show that while almost always hidden, never-ending, and regularly ignored by male church leaders, the sisters' contributions were unique and generous, often saving those most at risk in a growing city.About the Author:
Suellen Hoy, guest professor of history at the University of Notre Dame, is the author of Chasing Dirt: The American Pursuit of Cleanliness and other books.
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