Collection Description

Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, gave historian William Miller complete access to Catholic Worker files. Miller also typed copious and detailed notes on his personal correspondence with Dorothy Day. Daughter Carol Miller transcribed Dorothy Day’s personal diaries and journals. This material is housed at University Archives and Special Collection of the St. Thomas University Library.

The Collection includes:

  • Dorothy Day’s journals (1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1972) transcribed from the original handwritten journals
  • Dorothy Day manuscript for the “Biography of Peter Maurin”
  • Typed notes of articles published in the Catholic Worker, 1933-1967. Subjects include Pacifism, World War II, the Depression, Racism, AntiSemitism, and Labor)
  • Notes taken from letters to Dorothy Day and to “the Catholic Worker” (1933-1965)
  • Notes from letters to Dorothy Day written prior to the founding of the Catholic Worker (1917-1933)
  • Notes from Journals of Dorothy Day (1917-1933)
  • Notes from personal interviews with former and current Catholic Worker members conducted by Miller in the 1960’s. (Among these interviews is one with Malcolm Cowley who knew Dorothy Day in the 1920’s.)

Biographical Information

William D. Miller (1916-1995). Professor Emeritus of History at Marquette University, and the first historian to write a detailed history of the Catholic Worker in the context of American social and intellectual history. His seminal work marked the beginning of serious study of the Worker movement. Miller, through his friendship with Dorothy Day, obtained possession of and unrestricted access to the Catholic Worker/ Dorothy Day files which are now housed at Marquette University under a number of restrictions until the year 2005.

Dorothy Day (1897-1980). Co-founder and Editor of the Catholic Worker until her death, she has been described by some as the most significant American Catholic of the twentieth century. Day, with the help and inspiration of Peter Maurin, founded the Catholic Worker movement in 1933. Catholic Workers developed a unique form of Christian existentialism which they simply defined as “gentle personalism.” Since its founding in 1933, this grassroots Catholic lay movement has been consistently personlist, pacifist, anticapitalist, and anarchistic. Catholic Workers accept voluntary poverty, they feed and care for the poor, and publish a newspaper which reflects the philosophic basis for their existence.

Peter Maurin (1877-1949). A French peasant who had been trained as a Christian Brother, he came to the United States via Canada in the second decade of the 20th century. Familiar with the ideas of the French personalists, Maurin introduced these ideas to the United States and in doing so created the basic philosophy of the Catholic Worker Movement. With Dorothy Day he founded this movement in 1933 and remained a part of it until his death in 1949.

Related Websites

  • The Catholic Worker Movement
    The Catholic Worker Homepage is an unofficial site, but includes a wealth of information.
  • Dorothy Day-Catholic Worker Collection
    Web site for the an extensive collection of Catholic Worker at the Department of Special Collections and University Archives of the Marquette University Libraries.

Special Inquiries

For special inquiries about the collection, contact Isabel Medina at