char•it•y | noun | love of humankind
The Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul first arrived in Chicago in 1861. This order of nuns, like many others called to this growing metropolis, responded to the urban needs of their time by ministering to the sick and poor through hospitals (such as St. Joseph's), and orphanages (such as the St. Vincent Infant Asylum), which they administered. In 1914, seeing a need to offer childcare and social services for Chicago's working mothers, the Daughters of Charity helped found the Catholic Social Center in what is today's West Loop. A year later, in 1915, seeing similar needs in the largely working class immigrant neighborhood of Lincoln Park, the sisters helped found the DePaul Day Nursery and Social Center in a two-flat donated by labor leader Agnes Nestor at Halsted and Webster. Over the course of nearly a century, the two organizations—now called Marillac Social Center and St. Vincent de Paul Center - have seen new buildings, and name changes, but the missions of both remain committed to "strengthening and empowering those most in need to reach their greatest potential."
The Voices of Charity Oral History Project was initiated in honor of the Centennials of Marillac Social Center (in 2014) and the St. Vincent de Paul Center (in 2015). In order to document the histories of the two Centers, narrators were selected based on their having worked at one of the Centers for at least ten years or more. In all, twenty-one narrators were interviewed between October 2012 and October 2013. Interviews lasted anywhere from one hour to over three hours, and addressed workers' experiences dating as far back as the 1960s. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and checked against the audio for omissions/errors; minor edits were made to ensure clarity.
The oral history project was generously funded by the Irene and Bill Beck Faculty Fellowship, sponsored by the Beck Research Initiative for Women, Gender, and Community and the Irwin W. Steans Center for Community-based Service Learning and Community Service Studies. The website design was generously funded by the Vincentian Endowment Fund of DePaul University.